From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Health workers have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to include the adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) in the 2022 budget before passage.
The workers warned that failure to do so could lead to industrial disharmony.
The health workers include members of the national leadership of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA).
JOHESU Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah, made the call when he on a live television programme on Monday.
He said: “We’re expecting that Mr. President will do us well because as a union, we have yielded to his request that we should keep the health sector strike free for the period. We have done our part, we expect that no matter the games the Federal Ministry of Health is playing by trying to deny us our right, the president has the power to direct that the committee’s job should be included in the budget before he signs it.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians to plead on our behalf because we have been very patient, we have been very patriotic and we will not want a situation where all the efforts we have put to ensure there is peace in the health sector to waste because if it is not put into the budget, next year – a few days from now, which when we go into next year, certainly, the health sector will not be as peaceful as we have tried to keep it.
“If they don’t put the adjusted CONHESS into the budget then they should be ready for us,” the JOHESU chairman said.
Josiah said the unions were aware there was a provision of N80 billion set aside to take care of the salary adjustment for health workers.
He said it would be wrong for the Federal Ministry of Health to ‘divert’ the funds for other purposes.
“At the peak of our agitation, the office of the chief of staff to the president also intervened. We are aware there was a provision of N80 billion to take care of adjustment of salaries. It is our belief that even if they have not specifically stated that this amount is for CONHESS adjustment, I think, there is a provision made already,” he said.
On the adjustments made to the hazard allowance, Josiah said the unions have accepted the explanation offered by the Federal Government.
He, however, warned that any attempt to favour one union against the other would be resisted.
He also called for a balance in the leadership of the health ministry, saying this would benefit the country.
“Right from the beginning of this administration, we asked that the three top personnel should not come from one profession. The minister and minister of state should not come from one profession and the permanent secretary. For now, that has not been heeded and the country is suffering for that.
“I want to ask again; if the president is hearing me, that he should rejig and any other government that is coming should take this free advice and make the health system work for the masses.”