From Benjamin Babine, Abuja
Following the public hearing on five health bills held on Monday, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has expressed displeasure over the ‘bad treatment’ and ‘intimidation’ of its members by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Sen Ibrahim Oloriegbe.
JOHESU National Chairman Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, addressing journalists in Abuja, said Sen Oloriegbe, who is a sponsor of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCAN) bill, displayed a high level of bias against other health professionals during the hearing.
The unions demanded an apology and also demanded that the MDCAN bill be stepped down because Sen Oloriegbe ‘as a Medical Practitioner and an interested party in the bill is not eligible to preside over a public hearing of that nature on moral ground.’
Biobelemoye said the aforementioned bill should be suspended until all litigations on the existing Act are decided and resolved. He stressed the unions wouldn’t guarantee industrial peace in the health sector nationwide if the issues are not resolved.
‘JOHESU condemns in its entirety the harassment and intimidation of health workers professionals during the public hearing by Senator Ibrahim Y. Oloriegbe; Chairman, Senate Committee on Health. The action is not only unfortunate undemocratic, discriminatory, and unparliamentary.
‘It is a violation of our members’ right 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,’ Biobelemoye said.
‘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 their 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. Senator (Dr.) Oloriegbe as a sponsor of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCAN) bill displayed a high level of bias against other health professionals during the public hearing.
‘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 litigation presently before courts of competent jurisdiction in the country.’
JOHESU comprises 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).