From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Medical And Health Workers Union Of Nigeria (MHWUN) has threatened to embark on a nation wide strike if the federal government continues foot dragging on resolving issues with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other university based unions.
In a statement signed by MHWUN National President, Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah and Acting Secretary General, Comrade Auwalu Kiyawa, the union condemned in strong terms government’s actions and response to the protracted strike by the unions describing it as a “huge national embarrassment”
In the statement which was made available to Journalists at the weekend, the medical workers said no responsible Government would close down its Public Tertiary Institutions in
this 21st century because of patriotic demands for a better funding of its Universities and good welfare for its teaching and non-teaching staff.
“The Leadership of Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria have followed with a keen interest the ongoing industrial impasse in the Country’s Public tertiary Institutions, which had led to their closure since 14h February, 2022 and the lethargic response of Government in addressing the problem.
“It is equally disheartening to note that since the unfortunate strike started,
Government actions and response to such a huge national embarrassment had
been more of “motion without movement”. If anything, Government response has
not gone beyond the watery statement of “We are meeting with the Unions…” or the usual out-dated tactics of blackmailing Union Leaders as in similar situation. We condemn in strong terms the lethargic attitude of Government in resolving the issues in contention.
“In order to protect the future of our
youths whose academic life is being disrupted, we call on the Government to implement without further delay all the agreements it had entered with the Unions. We urge the relevant MDAs to ensure that President Mohammadu Buhari’s earlier directive to resolve all outstanding issues with the Unions is backed by immediate acceptable action that would end the stalemate.
“MHWUN wishes to use this medium to unequivocally state that we firmly
stand behind the University based Unions and the clear position of NLC leadership in this historic struggle.
“Our State Councils have been put on a
red alert, as we will not hesitate to declare a solidarity strike in support of
the Unions if Government fails to resolve the issue within a reasonable time.” The statement read in parts.
The union decried that instead of addressing the lecturers demands, Federal Government and political actors are channeling resources to fund political ambitions.
“The Leadership of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria is particularly irked that the Federal Government and the political Actors have abandoned the children of the poor masses at home to waste away, instead they are seen dissipating energy and resources that could have been used to resolve the issue to fund political tussle to occupy plum offices that previous occupiers have failed to use for the benefit of the masses. We are more worried with the development because the academic future of the Citizenry is being disrupted whereas the politicians and top Government officials have their children mostly in well funded and equipped oversea schools or in relatively expensive private schools in Nigeria.
“Discerning minds will agree with us that the negative impact of the strike to
the future of our children and Nigeria in general cannot be quantified. We
call on people of goodwill to stand up in defense of the right and future of
our children and Nigeria, by demanding Government to do the right thing
and bring back these children to the classroom.” They said.
The ASUU, NASU, SAUTHRIAI, NAAT had been on strike for more than five months due to the apparent failure of Government to sign the re-negotiated 2009
Agreement with ASUU, failure to honour the terms reached at the May 2021 MoU
signed with ASUU, and habitual failure of Government to respect Collective
Bargaining Agreements willingly signed with Unions.
Also in contention is the
refusal of Government to adopt the home-grown innovative solutions provided by
the Unions in the payment of University Workers’ Salaries.
The medical workers further condemned the growing insecurity situation of the country as well as the energy crises in the nation, and called on the government to take necessary actions to address the problems.
“Furthermore, the Medical and health Workers Union of Nigeria categorically condemn in the strongest words the spate of insecurity in the Country. The rising orgies of killing, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, and extreme agitation for secession have assumed a dangerous dimension. Hardly any day passes by without reports of security challenges in some parts of the Country. Human lives have become so cheap and without value Nigerian workers are no longer safe both at their homes and at work places, as many
have lost their lives to these enemies of State.
We equally condemn the current scarcity of diesel, cooking gas, petrol and aviation fuel, and the rising wave of arbitrary prices all over the country.
“We therefore, demand for a
resolute action from Government to end this degrading assault on the sovereignty of our Nation.” The statement added.