THE NIGERIAN HEALTH SECTOR: "SOME TRUTHS AND SHAPESHIFTERS" PART 1


By Dr. Jide Akeju
16Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. 17And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. 18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. 19 And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear. 22And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. 24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. 25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. 26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. 27Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. 28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.”  1kings3:16-28 (KJV Bible)


When the news about the sack of all resident doctors was eventually confirmed, many Nigerians took to social media to express their unwavering support for the definitive judgment meted out to the striking, arrogant and greedy doctors who had failed to respond to the Ebola virus outbreak. Among those who joined the bandwagon of solidarity with the Nigerian emperor were other health workers under the banner of the “Assembly of Healthcare Professionals and Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU)” some of who said the resident doctors were deserving of such a drastic decision after embarking on a prolonged “illegal” strike action. A sensible individual who claims to be concerned about the happenings in the Nigerian health sector ought to ask him/herself a very critical question; “How does one justify the sacking of resident doctors who are affiliate members of the parent body called the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) for a strike declared and enforced by the parent body?”



Who on earth are JOHESU that seem to have the Health Ministry and the Government by the gonads?

The creation of this hydra-headed structure still remains a mystery to me despite a lot of effort to trace its point of origin and insertion. This body seems to have perfected the art of ”shapeshifting” believed to only exist in folklore and mythology. Like the Marvel comics character “Mystique”, this amorphous organization has found a way to appear as whatever they wish to any group of people, peddling falsehood and retaining their ”integrity” in the process. They were out with a press release shortly after the NMA called for a nationwide strike on the 1st of July 2014 in which they condemned the strike and declared it illegal. By the 17th of July, they had sued the NMA and challenged the legal right of the association to declare a strike when it was not a part of the recognized trade unions in Nigeria and therefore did not have a right to negotiate any trade issues with the Federal government (FG). If the NMA does in fact have no right to seat at the table with the FG, who then is responsible for negotiating on its behalf?


The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) is described on its website as the only national federation of trade unions in the country with “fundamental aims and objective to protect, defend and promote the rights, well-being and the interests of all workers, pensioners and the trade unions; to promote and defend a Nigerian nation that would be just, democratic, transparent and prosperous and to advance the cause of the working class generally etc.” There are about 16 listed ways of achieving these for “all Nigerian workers” both in the public and private sector all clearly stated on the website. The congress has about 43 affiliate bodies listed on its website with their relevant addresses and contacts. It is mentioned that the umbrella body is aware of the existence of a massive and dynamic informal sector of the economy which is currently not a member of the congress; a status not also extended to the military and paramilitary services as well as civil establishments that carry out duties classified by law as essential. The only example given under civil establishments was the central bank of Nigeria. The JOHESU take pride in their ability to hold negotiations with FG on labour disputes citing that all 5 affiliate members are also members of the NLC and Trade Union congress of Nigeria (TUC). I have to agree with a column written by Ibrahim Idris about 7months ago in “Premium Times” where he described JOHESU as illegal. A quick look at the current letter headed papers on which their communiques are printed would reveal 5 logos by the left side margin vertically oriented. One communique released on the 6th of January 2014 reveals a logo at the top (consisting of the images of 2 tablets and one capsule surrounded by the acronym) with the title as “Assembly of Healthcare Professionals and Joint Health Sector Unions”; another released on the 17th of January 2014 has only the expanded JOHESU at the top. Subsequently, the letter head has remained as “Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Healthcare Professionals”. I really wonder how such a “dynamic” organization gets to command the attention of the FG.

To be Continued....

Dr Jide Akeju BDS
Senior Registrar
Jideakej@gmail.com

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