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Strike: UNILAG put on hold 50th convocation

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Following refusal by the non-academic staff unions in the nation’s universities to call off their two-month-old industrial action including threats by the unions’ chapters at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka to disrupt the planned 50th convocation ceremonies scheduled to hold between February 19 and 22, the institution’s management yesterday postponed the ceremony indefinitely.
In a statement issued by the university and signed by Principal Assistant Registrar (Information), Mrs. Taiwo Oloyede, a new date would be announced for the ceremony soon.
Although Oloyede did not give reasons for the abrupt postponement, New Telegraph learnt the striking workers comprising members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), had threatened to disrupt the convocation ceremony over what they described as neglect they had suffered in the hands of government.

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Lagos workers get N100m housing subvention

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…as Ambode okays Fagba flyover

Lagos State Head of Service, Mrs Folashade Adesoye yesterday said that the state had increased its budgetary provision for Housing loans for its members of staff from N50 million to N100 million with a view to improving workers’ welfare.

Adesoye, who disclosed this at the on-going ministerial briefing, said the Staff Housing Board had so far disbursed loans to about 280 public servants from various MDAs, saying a total of N95, 033, 564 had so far been disbursed to the staff.

She said: ‘’ I am extremely delighted to inform you that the budgetary provision for Housing loan has increased from N50 million to N100 million, laying credence to government’s commitment to staff welfare.

“However, owing to the increasing number of staff and the opening up of new residential areas, there is a conspicuous deficit in the number of buses. However, His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has promised to re-fleet the scheme with state –of – the-art buses.

“In a bid to develop a world class public service where staff have the right attitude, government has initiated issuance of Letters of Commendation to officer identified to have consistently met or exceeded set targets and exhibited exceptional work ethics and diligence in the discharge of their duties.’’

Meanwhile, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had approved construction of a flyover bridge at the Fagba intersection to ease perennial traffic gridlock and reduce travel time within the axis.

The governor approved the construction of the Fagba Flyover Bridge after an inspection of the ongoing construction of Pen Cinema Flyover Bridge, where he observed the need to holistically address the traffic gridlock around Agege-Iju axis to make Pen Cinema Flyover Bridge more effective.

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Stop killings or resign, protesters tell Buhari

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Hundreds of Catholic Church members yesterday staged a peaceful protest in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, over the horrendous killings in some parts of the country.

They asked President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently embark on measures to stop the killings and restore peace to troubled spots.

The protesters, who gathered at the St. Anne Catholic Church, Ibara, Abeokuta, took to the streets after a requiem mass for the repose of two priests and 17 parishioners killed in Benue State by suspected herdsmen in April.

 

They were armed with placards bearing inscriptions such as “President Buhari, protect Nigerians or resign,” “Human life is sacred,” “Killing is a sin,” “We want peace in Nigeria,” and “Enough is enough, government be responsible.”

Speaking with reporters after the mass, the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, Most Rev. Peter Odetoyinbo, said the Federal Government must act fast and curb wanton bloodshed in the country.

“Protection of lives is so important in the country. We must protect lives.”

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Editorial

End health workers’ strike now

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The game being played by the Federal Government and health workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) is dangerous to the health of Nigerians and the economic wellbeing of the Nigerian nation.

 

On April 17, JOHESU called out its members, which include the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutes (SSAUTHRIA), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Medical and Health Workers Union (NHWU) and the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Workers (NUAHP), on a nationwide strike to force the hands of the Federal Government to accede to its requests.

 

JOHESU’s demands include the implementation of the adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), the payment of specialist allowances to deserving health professionals, payment of arrears of the skipping of CONHESS 10, increase of retirement age of health workers from 60 to 65 years and the review of the composition of the Boards of Federal Health Institutions (FHIs), as well as the abolition of the position of Deputy Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (DCMAC), among others.

 

But the Federal Government, from all indications, is not ready to accede to the striking workers’ demands.

 

In one of his reactions to the strike, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said JOHESU’s demand to be on the same pay level with doctors was not realistic. Adewole, said instead, salaries and wages of the health workers would be adjusted.

 

While the altercation between the union and the Federal Government is going on, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) threw its hat in the ring.

 

The association threatened to embark on strike if the Federal Government acceded to JOHESU’s demands. Both the F e d e r a l G ov e r n – ment and the NMA seem to be on the same page in terms of their stand on the JOH E S U ’ s strike. But while the Federal G ov e r n – ment and the medical pract i t i o n e r s have taken healthcare to the chess b o a r d , many people, the majority being the poor, are paying the price.

 

While patients have been sent away from public health facilities, those who could afford to pay have gone to seek medical attention in private hospitals.

 

But those who could not pay have resigned to fate. It may be difficult to get the number of those who might have died because of lack of data in Nigeria. But certainly, a lot would have needlessly lost the battle to stay alive, albeit due to what could be termed minor health challenges, because of the ongoing strike. The strike has claimed lives. We sympathise with the 19 members of JOHESU who were injured in an accident on the Benin-Auchi Road on Saturday.

 

About 40 health workers, said to be staff of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) chapter of the union, were on their way to a function in line with the strike in Auchi, when the accident occurred. An engineer with an information technology firm reportedly lost his life.

 

The man, a victim of armed robbery, was reportedly rejected at a private hospital because there was no police report, but there were no health workers to attend to him at the government-owned health facility he was later taken to.

 

So the breadwinner of a family lost his life because of the strike. Several others are dying but their deaths are probably not reported. Unfortunately, the strike came when the President also had to take a medical trip to the United Kingdom. But apart from the leaders, how many Nigerians could afford to go outside the country for medical attention?

 

That probably explains why the leaders may not be keen in addressing the demands of the striking health workers.

 

While we cannot deny workers, particularly those in the health sector, the right to take steps to seek redress to their perceived short-change in the hands of their employers, going on strike at the slightest opportunity does nobody no good. In other climes, strikes have gone out of fashion. We encourage workers’ unions in Nigeria to devise new but proactive means to get employers to accede to their demands.

 

It is also pertinent to note that JOHESU was yet to comply with the directive by the National Industrial Court (NIC), Abuja, which, last Thursday, ordered the union to suspend its strike and resume duties within 24 hours.

 

Justice Babatunde Adejumo, who is president of NIC, gave the order after listening to the submissions of Mr. Okere Nnamdi in an ex-parte motion filed by a non-governmental organisation, Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International.

 

Adejumo ordered the Ministers of Health, Labour and Employment, among others, to immediately set up a committee to address issues raised by labour.

 

The judge ordered that the parties should arrive at an acceptable and amicable solution in the interest of Nigerians who are bearing the brunt of the strike action. We also implore the Federal Government to immediately find a lasting solution to the incessant strikes in the health sector.

 

This is necessary in order to safe many more souls which will be lost to the strike. A failed nation is it which cannot provide for the economic and health needs of its citizens.

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