FG shuts down Federal Medical Centre Owerri

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Doctors of the hospital on strike
Doctors of the hospital on strike

The Federal Government yesterday shut down the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, temporar­ily to allow government re­strategise on the rules of engagement and an interim administration to be put in place to oversee affairs of the institution.

The government also ordered that the staff’s December salaries be stopped because they are not working.

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Ad­ewole, expressed dismay during his recent visit to Owerri, saying he was sad­dened because “it showed labour unionism at the highest level of impunity whereby employees of gov­ernment, who have been getting their salaries regu­larly, were all clad in black and chanting solidarity songs.”

While briefing news­men yesterday in Abuja, the minister explained that it also showed that la­bour unions were unyield­ing to all overtures from the executive and legisla­ture, even at the realisa­tion that “I was barely one month in office and should have been given the benefit of doubt.

“The penchant to resort to strikes and disruption of services is inimical to the overall development of the country and should only be deployed as a weapon when dialogue has failed.

“A situation where workers are fully aware of the fact that the FMC, Owerri, was the only func­tional hospital in the state at the moment, but still disrupted services simply shows how bad our value systems have degenerated.

“The workers, among other things accused the medical director of misap­propriating funds, but for which she was found not guilty. What level of cor­ruption is more than the fact that people have been receiving salaries for the past eight months without working? Let he/she that is without sin cast the first stone.

“The fact-finding com­mittee that investigated the allegations against the medical director has since submitted its report and the contents of that report were brought to the public domain at a press confer­ence held at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity on November 3, 2015. The Ministry of Health recalled the medical director, who has been exoner­ated of the allegations lev­elled against her.

“This singular action sparked off another round of protests from the unions who insisted that she must go, hinging their demand on a minority report sub­mitted by the union mem­bers of the committee which indicted the medical director.”

According to him, the FMC must work to deliver healthcare services to the Nigerian people because that is the mandate for which the Federal Govern­ment is maintaining over 2,500 people employed in the centre with the avail­able meagre resources, inclusive of tax payer’s money.

It would be recalled that the crisis at the FMC, Ow­erri, started in April, 2015 and has completely para­lysed activities in the cen­tre ever since.

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