Neuro-psychiatric hospital workers, consultants stage protest in Lagos

Lagos  -Health workers and consultants at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest over alleged inadequate welfare packages and poor working conditions at the hospital.
The workers, under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), had accused the Medical Director, Dr Rahman Lawal, of performing below expectation during his first four years tenure which ended on Aug. 21.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workers, who had embarked on an indefinite strike since Aug. 31, were demanding for a change of the management of the hospital.
NAN also reports that the hospital’s chapter of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) on Tuesday embarked on a three-day strike to express their grievances.
The Chairman of the hospital’s association, Dr Grace Ijarogbe, said that the consultants were not happy about the deplorable state of infrastructure in the hospital.
Ijarogbe alleged that the tenure of Lawal, as the Medical Director of the hospital, had ended on Aug. 21, and ought to have vacated office in accordance with the civil service rule.
“There is a process in this country by which people exit the civil service.
“It is at the compulsory age of 60 years or 35 years in service, and the medical director is almost 61 years old.
“He has served his tenure in office and by the circular as we see in today’s civil service, he ought to have left.
“We are asking questions, how can you be substantive and then, become acting? Where has the civil service rule gone?” she asked.
The chairman then urged President Muhammadu Buhari to upgrade the facilities of the hospital and provide funds that would be used to effectively run the system.
Ijarogbe said: “We know money has been provided and we want somebody else who will use the money to run the hospital.
“We the health professionals are willing to work hard to make sure that we give Nigerians a good mental health service that is perfect.’’
Also speaking at a rally, the Chairman of JOHESU, Mr Uzondu Eke, said that some of the workers’ demands include payment of promotion arrears from 2011 to 2014.
Eke said that the hospital had suffered setback during the tenure of Lawal, hence, their demand for a change of leadership.
He said: “The main problem is that Lawal did not perform. He did not solve our problems and he did not uplift the hospital in all ramifications and so he is scored below pass mark.
“Lawal has done the little he can do and so he should exit the system.”
Reacting to the protest, Lawal denied all the allegations made against him by the workers, describing the three-day warning strike by the consultants as illegal.
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Lawal told NAN that he had resigned as a civil servant before taking the political appointment as the hospital medical director, which he said, many of his adversaries were not aware of.
According to him, a special committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Health is already looking into whether he is eligible for a second term, “and pending the time, l was asked to continue to act as the medical director.
“But, unfortunately my people could not understand and they went about with rumours that I bribed the ministry officials to get a letter of recommendation.
“And of course, the consultants that I expect to know better, these are people who hope to become medical directors, they are the ones saying `I came with a letter purportedly signed by the Permanent Secretary’.
“I think that is an insult on my integrity, and again and insult on the integrity of the permanent secretary.
“If they do not believe the letter that was given to me, l challenged them to go to the ministry to confirm.” (NAN)

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