By Elijah Ugani; Health Correspondent
Nurses in Cross River State Monday began an indefinite industrial action following the state’s refusal to reverse the promotion of a junior nurse to superintend over her seniors in Obudu local government area of the state.
The nurses under the aegis of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) Cross River State Chapter say one Christiana Akeke said to be a relative of Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade was made the Primary Health Care Coordinator in Obudu, the Governor’s hometown by the chairman of the Local Government Service Commission following her appointment into the Board of the state Primary Health Care Development Agency.
“In line with the SEC decision of 12/12/2016 on the protracted demand of the Association for the reversal of the posting of junior staff on level 13th to cover duties as Director PHCC of Obudu and as such to superintend over nurses who are on grade levels 16 and 15 (Director and Deputy Director); I have the mandate to inform you that the decision of SEC to re-issue a 7-days ultimatum to the State Government to reverse the posting or face industrial action had been fully communicated to the appropriate organs of the Government” a release signed by the state secretary of NANNM Comrade David Chukwuka and made available to CrossRiverWatch read.
The release further directed the local government chairmen of the association to “Mobilize our members and for them to commence indefinite strike, effectiveness from 23/01/2017, by this directives, none of our members in your unit for any reason what so ever should be seen at your hospital/health facility/institution”.
“We were long informed by the leadership of Nigeria Labor Congress when we reported the matter to them that the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has directed the chairman of Local Government Service Commission, Dr. Peter Adigeb to reverse the posting and he remained adamant over it. I have personally spoken with the DG Primary Health Care Development Agency and she has always promised that the Governor will look into it, we have been pushed to the wall no nurse will go to work until the reversal is effected” the state chairman Comrade Ogar Ojong told CrossRiverWatch in a telephone chat.
When contacted at first, the said Peter Adigeb told CrossRiverWatch that he was in the State House of Assembly and further calls to his line as at press time were not connecting.
The Commissioner for Health Dr. Inyang Asibong when contacted appealed to the nurses to; “Rescind their action and be disposed for a dialogue with the Government for the nurses to resume duties as they cannot downplay the issue of health service delivery”.
She assured the nurses that government had already taken steps to ensure their concern is addressed and will see it through.
Similarly, the Director General of the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Betta Edu said that “We will call the leadership of NANNM to a meeting for them to call off the strike, the Chairman Local Government Service Commission is the person that has allowed this issue to degenerate to the extent of this strike, I don’t know why he has not effected the reversal on the Governor’s directive”.
When CrossRiverWatch visited General Hospital Ogoja, there was no nurse found in the premises of the hospital.
On his part, the medical superintendent of the Hospital, Dr. Patrick Ubi lamented the effect of the industrial action.
“We can no longer admit patients, we will discharge patients who are strong because we don’t have the nurses who care for the patients, we had to plead with some who assisted in the maternity ward in the delivery of children; I have just addressed my colleague doctors to always make themselves available for emergency cases, as you can see, no nurse is found within the premises. I want to appeal to the Government to use proactive measures to call the nurses back to work” he said.
Also, our correspondents across the state say all government health facilities and Primary Health Care centers are currently closed due to the strike.
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