Worse than codeine and tramadol, strikes have been abused in Nigeria and anyone who opposes strikers is usually struck. And that has been my lot this past week. The Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU) has kicked me from here to Casablanca because I told the strikers that if they no longer find their husbands attractive, they could move further up the road because theirs wasn’t a Catholic marriage. But the slaps and punches are not new. I’m used to them. Many of the responses I got were quite educating but there were the ones from people who I suspect were high on something more than their anger. Those ones I found amusing. One even said I did the piece because I am married to a doctor! What does a widow say to that? I’m standing my ground though, slapped and punched, because I think Nigerians are already harassed and beleaguered enough without health workers promoting their headache to migraine.
Yes, JOHESU strikers need bigger pay packets, but then so do we all.
However, my real anger is against the government. I have reliably learnt that most hospitals have more administrative staff than patients. In a country with about 35,000 doctors or a bit more practicing in all hospitals in Nigeria (private and public), which is roughly a ratio of 1 doctor to 5,142 patients as against the 1:600 WHO target, I learnt there are all kinds of clerical officers running all over the place doing little or nothing and getting paid for just leaving their houses. The number of nurses is as deplorable. Now, when you spend money meant to pay real medical staff on personnel who just sit and gossip from 8am to 4.00pm, how does that make you a serious employer? Our civil service is due for overhaul and reorganization. Nobody needs to be sacked. Let’s just post personnel where they are needed and pay critical staff as much as we can. Like I always say, our lives, individual and national, depend on our teachers and our health sector professionals.
According to a very reliable insider, ‘the most annoying part of their strikes when they embark on them is that they do everything to prevent doctors from carrying out their duties. They lock up equipment and materials and on a particular occasion contaminated laboratory reagents so that if the doctors carry out the tests by themselves, they will get wrong results. They also often threaten the lives of doctors if they do anything that could truncate their strikes.’
Imagine the temerity and cold-bloodedness of that! I still can’t get over an employee getting so bold as to abandon his duty post, threaten his employer’s business and still expects to be paid. It does not matter how long I’m punched and slapped, I will never agree to the meanness and lawlessness that cost us human lives.
If a man in the quest for more money ends the lives of others, he is guilty of the sin of ‘money ritual.’ It is as simple as that. And that is why I think government needs to pay teachers and health professionals better than the rest of us. Some will attempt to bite my nose off for that too but I’m a columnist and that is my opinion. Pardon me if you do not agree but this is neither an editorial nor an investigative story, just my two kobo on the matter.
Here’s the jury’s verdict from my mailbox
Madam, I can’t just hold myself any longer, your diction and literary ingenuity burst my head. You are indeed too much. Wow! ‘JOHESU, This Is Not A Catholic Marriage!’ A masterpiece. Kudos to you ma, more ink to your pen. – Your avid reader; Mgbii Onyedika (Holy Dikable).
I doubt if you know that I buy Sunday Sun because of you – because of your articles. The article on the JOHESU strike is just on point.
– R.A. Akinlesi
On the JOHESU matter, I will like to give you my opinion. If ‘they’ know that I am a doctor, they will burst an artery. Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti can be referenced. There is no marriage in this case least of all a Catholic marriage. An okro tree cannot or should not grow taller than the person that planted it and if it does, all you need to do is to bend it when you want to harvest the okro fruit. – Name withheld on request.
Your Sunday piece was a one-arm analysis. I am not a health professional but the JOHESU grievances are in order. Can you count how many times doctors went on strike since 1999 and the federal government acceded to their demands because the Minister of Health is always a medical doctor. Espirit de corps? Caregiving is an all-in-one affair. -08055944682
You are again right. But I ask, did the government have an agreement with JOHESU? If yes, government should honour it otherwise government should wield the big stick. – Ken. Awka
Your article on JOHESU is a nice one. Congrats. -Jeff Nwosu from Nsukka
Funke, your position in “JOHESU, This Is Not Catholic Marriage” is too one-sided to justify your stance. Workers, whether in the civil service or private sector, have civil right to go on strike for as long as their employers fail to attend to their grouse.
Workers are not slaves to their employers to be maltreated, are they? Put the deaths and sufferings of patients where they belong: government’s insensitivity to lives of its citizenry.
This Buhari/APC government is a curse on Nigeria. If not for anything but lives of patients in government hospitals, a sane government would react fast to JOHESU to stop the strike to save lives of patients across the country.
If JOHESU workers resign, will they be paid their parting financial rights promptly by this insensitive government?
– Lai Ashadele
The JOHESU strike is unfortunate and disturbing. It exposes the failed system we run in Nigeria.
Any workable system pays for output, work done, hours put in the job execution and not for paper qualification. If the doctors think they are the all-in-all, why are the hospitals not functioning? -08038571431
Madam Funke, just finished reading your lecture titled, JOHESU, This Is Not Catholic Marriage.
Where did you learn all these things? Intelligence that seems out of this world, a super gifted adult in mind usage.
You’ve got all it takes to make anything around you grow positively and progressively. – Chris. Abuja, Nigeria