By Michael Oche, Abuja
Health workers under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), have threaten to disrupt activities in the health sector if their demands on the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2020, are not resolved as soon as possible.
JOHESU national chairman, Comrade Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, told journalists at a press conference in Abuja, that the health workers are demanding that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCAN) (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2020 under consideration at the National Assembly be stepped down until all litigations on the existing Act are decided and resolved.
The chairman also expressed the unions displeasure over what it termed “harassment and intimidation” of its members by the chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, during a public hearing on the Medical and Dental Bill.
The Union demanded immediate apology from the Senator and said failure to do so will attract severe consequences.
He said, “The National Leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions called this press conference to express total displeasure on the bad treatment of our members during the Public Hearing on Five Health Bills held on 1st February, 2021.
“JOHESU comprising of five affiliate unions: Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Assembly of HealthCare Professional Associations (AHPA), condemns in its entirety the harassment and intimidation of health workers and professionals during the above public hearing by Senator Ibrahim Y. Oloriegbe; the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health.
“The action is not only unfortunate but undemocratic, discriminatory, and unparlimentary. It is a violation of our members’ rights to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
“JOHESU demands an unreserved apology on this unfortunate incidence from Senator Oloriegbe or face the wrath of JOHESU members through all possible means legitimate means.”’
On its position over the contesting MDCAN Bill, the Union said: “JOHESU position is premised on the following: That the purpose of the public hearing was defeated because other critical stakeholders who submitted memoranda ahead of time were not allowed to make presentations even though sufficient time was given to medical practitioners and affiliated bodies. Furthermore, he totally disregarded the arranged list of presenters during the public hearing and hand-picked presenters instead, while barring his perceived antagonists.
“That Senator (Dr.) Oloriegbe as a sponsor of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCAN) bill displayed high level of bias against other health professionals during the public hearing. That Senator Oloriegbe as a Medical Practitioner and interested party in the bill is not eligible to preside over a public hearing of that nature on moral ground.
“That Senator Oloriegbe has not provided level playing ground to other health professionals, he had always give undue advantage Medical Practitioners at any Senate Committee legislative forum that has to do with the health sector. That the action of Senator Oloriegbe is against the Fundamental Rights as contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and the International Labour Convention on harassment and intimidation 2019.
“That the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2020 is against Rule 7 Section 1(5) of the House of Representatives and Order 41 of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria; because, the existing MDCAN Act is subject of litigations presently before courts of competent jurisdiction in the country.”
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