President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told the health sector workers to be patient with his government over their demands as the country was dealing with a bigger task of tackling Coronavirus.
He stated that the outbreak of the disease had posed fresh challenges for the economy, especially the impact on crude oil revenue.
Buhari made the appeal in Abuja when members of the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly Healthcare Professionals Associations visited him at the Presidential Villa.
“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”, the President told the union members.
Recall that the unions have been demanding an upward review of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure.
In addition to CONHESS, the workers have also protested the withheld April and May 2018 salaries of members.
They have also pressed for the gazetting of scheme of service for nurses and the payment of teaching allowances.
In 2019, JOHESU in particular had threatened a seven-day warning strike over the issues.
However, meeting with Buhari on Tuesday where the issues were again raised, the President urged patience and appealed for support to enable the country to tackle the Coronavirus threat first.
Calling for patriotism, he stated, “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 restraint…
“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.”
But, JOHESU and AHPA, led by Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, still pressed for the issues affecting the members, though they commended the Buhari regime for some of the achievements it recorded in the health sector.
For instance, they commended Buhari for signing the National Health Act and “rejecting the advice of stakeholders who clamoured for the privatisation of the health sector.”