Coronavirus: Buhari begs health workers over demands

President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to workers in the health sector to show understanding with the administration in their demands, especially given the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak on the economy.

He said his administration was bracing up for the challenges expected to follow the outbreak of the disease.

The President, who made the appeal on Tuesday when workers in the health sector the under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly Healthcare Professionals Associations (AHPA) paid him a courtesy call at the State House, Abuja, assured that government was looking into their issues with a view to resolving them.

A statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) quoted him as saying: “Your case is certainly receiving attention, but you must bear in mind the condition that the country is in now. Coronavirus is not improving matters. It is affecting what we very much depend on, the petroleum industry and therefore revenue.”

President Buhari also called on the visitors to appeal to the patriotic sentiments of their members in these trying times and continue to work for further development of the country.

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He added: “So please try and help us with your people. Let us be patriotic, let us look at the ways and means of the government and appeal for restraining. We have to emphasise that it is very important we maintain cohesion together because if we allow sentiments or popularity to overwhelm our reasoning faculties, we will be in trouble and it will be too late for us to adjust, so please bear with us.”

President Buhari leader used the opportunity to stress that his administration’s successful drive for food sufficiency in the last four years will definitely come in handy now with the drop in government revenue.

“We thank God. God is very sympathetic to us. The three previous rainy seasons were good. We had good foresight in getting fertiliser, making it available and we virtually achieved food security. We made good decisions, and we saved hundreds of millions of dollars on the importation of food. If not, we would have been in real trouble,” he added.

JOHESU, an amalgam of five registered trade unions and AHPA, under the leadership of Comrade Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, had come to intimate the President with some of the contentious issues in the sector and to thank him for some of the positive developments.

Notably, they appreciated President Buhari’s prompt release of funds for tackling Coronavirus; thanked him for assenting to the National Health Act which provides for a one per cent consolidated fund for the health sector, and for rejecting the advice of stakeholders who clamoured for the privatisation of the health sector which would have deprived the masses access to affordable healthcare.

They also requested the President’s intervention in the adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS); withheld April and May 2018 salaries of members; gazetting of the scheme of service for nurses; and restoration of teaching allowances among others.

Also in attendance were Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; the Minister and the Minister of State in the Health Ministry, Dr Osagie Ehanire and Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora respectively; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.

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