The cold war between members of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and other health workers deepened on Wednesday when the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) asked the leadership of the senate to probe the February 1, 2021, public hearing on the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill 2020.
The Chairman of JOHESU, Comrade Joy Bio Josiah, in response to the earlier statement by the NMA, accusing it of blackmailing the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said the allegation was a figment of imagination of the NMA hierarchy.
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Josiah, in a statement, said, “For the records and umpteenth time, we assert boldly and responsibly that Dr Oloriegbe who has complained of the tyrannical propensities of a perceived political dynasty until fate and fortune smiled on him in the 2019 senatorial elections when he defeated then incumbent Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has been more tyrannical than any other medical doctor chairman of the Senate Committee on Health.
“In the last 22 years of our democracy, at least the following, which include late Senator Martins from Rivers West, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa now Governor of Delta State and Dr Lanre Tejuosho from Ogun Central had been Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Health. JOHESU/AHPA or any of the other health professional bodies never accused these medics of bias at hearings.”
JOHESU insisted that Oloriegbe at the February 1, 2021, hearing recognised his medical constituents above and over other stakeholders.
“At the public hearing of February 1, 2021, JOHESU vividly declares again that Oloriegbe gave MDCN, NMA and a representative of pathologists the floor three times spanning over 15 minutes, while professions like pharmacy, medical laboratory science, nursing, radiography and JOHESU representatives got two minutes each to canvass their positions.
“We must make the point that a third public hearing at the National Assembly even recognised personal contributions and not only group representations. Attempts to draw Oloriegbe’s attention to these facts have always been met by threats of eviction by the sergeant-at-arms.”
JOHESU, therefore, asked the senate to probe the February 1, 2021, hearing and reorganise the Senate Committee on Health.
The Senate Committee on Health dismissed accusations of unfair treatment of health professionals during the public hearing.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, told Daily Trust on phone that all the associations and unions present at the event were allowed to make presentations.
The lawmaker also debunked the allegation of giving preferential treatment to one association against others, saying all were treated with fairness despite time constraint.
He said the noise was as a result of inter-professional rivalry among the health professionals, noting that the public hearing was not a platform for unions to play politics.
He said, “We allowed everybody to speak. We also received memoranda from them, which I assured them that their views would be accommodated.
“No association or union was denied from expressing its views on the bills.
“We don’t do public hearing for unions or associations to play their politics. All these accusations were as a result of inter professional rivalry among them.”
He added that, “We are not part of whatever politics they are playing. I don’t have any interest except the interest of Nigeria.”