Bauchi volunteer health workers give 14-day ultimatum to withdraw services over govt neglect
Story from Ahmad SAKA, Bauchi
The Bauchi State Union of Volunteers and Temporary Health Workers has given the state government 14 days within which to address their plights or risk losing their services across hospitals in the state.
The Chairman of the Union, Comrade Yusuf Aliyu Fada who made this known while addressing a press conference at the Bauchi Emir Palace Primary Health Care Center PHC, noted that a series of efforts by the union to get the government support has proved unsuccessful.
The Chairman said that the aim of establishing the union, presently with 2,897 members was to ensure support to the government by ensuring effective healthcare service delivery in the state as well as create an avenue for job creation for its members.
Fada claimed that his members have been carrying out effective healthcare services across the state in which over 100 healthcare facilities are headed by them without even monthly stipend or been employed even on casual bases.
Despite being volunteer workers, Fada said members of the union have been raising funds among themselves to purchase medical consumables and drugs to render free medical services in the hard to reach areas of the state.
The Chairman who decried that there were five promises made by the government of Bauchi State to his union, said none has been fulfilled to date.
The first promise, the chairman of the volunteer health workers said, was made during the 2019 election manifesto presentation that was done by the present Governor at the DEC conference hall.
“During the event, I stood up on behalf of the volunteer health workers and asked the Governor who was then contesting for the seat on whether he will consider the plights of my members if he emerged the governor and he promised to do so within first one hundred days in office, that he will casualize our members”, the chairman recalled.
He said after the said hundred days in office, the union has written several letters to the Governor to remind him of his promise but to no avail.
“As a result of that, we had organised for a peaceful demonstration to the government house to register our grievances but before you know the information reached the government and we were immediately summoned to a meeting at the government house”, Fada said.
“We had the meeting with the then Commissioner of Health and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) government house. The CSO told us that if not that the governor has travelled, he would have personally attended the meeting to hear from us directly. But he assured us that whatever we discussed would be transmitted to the governor as soon as he comes back”, the chairman of the union further explained.
He said during the meeting, they were promised employment within June to July of 2020, that government is going to lift the employment embargo to employ health workers in which about 70 to 80 per cent of the job slots are going to be members of his union.
According to him, the present administration in the state has failed to fulfill the promise it made that within one hundred days in office, they will casualize his members.
Fada who announced the decision of the union to embark on an indefinite strike after the two weeks ultimatum by withdrawing volunteer services across hospitals stressed that the union is taking the action because the state government has neglected them.
According to Fada: “We don’t want to embark on any strike, however, we are left with no option than to go for it after the expiration of the two weeks notice we are issuing today if the government failed to take the needed action”.
Reacting to the development, the State Commissioner of Health, Dr Samaila Dahuwa said that the state government was looking into their plights with a view of employing them.
The Commissioner while urging them to exercise patience as the state government is not unmindful of what they are going through, said “they are volunteers, meaning, they chose to volunteer not that someone asked them to”.
The Commissioner, however, said that members of the union are making great contributions in the health sector in Bauchi State, adding that volunteers are allowed to work so that when the government wants to employ workers, they will have an edge and be considered first.
Dr Dahuwa pleaded with them not to withdraw their services but continue serving, assuring that the government is working on their issues and will soon be addressed.