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.