THE Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has been called upon to wade into the brewing crisis between members of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria, MHWUN, Lagos branch, and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, who are spoiling for a showdown over alleged insensitivity of management to their plights and highhandedness of the Agency’s Director of Administration/Human Resource.
At a peaceful protest in Lagos, the workers called for removal of the Director, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, on allegations that she lacks administrative expertise and the right attitude to staff welfare.
Placards displayed during the protest had messages such as “Say No Nepotism in NAFDAC”; “President Buhari, If Your Government Is Serious about Fighting Corruption, then we must start from Yetunde Oni”; “PMB Sack NAFDAC management now, enough of impunity” among others.
Making the call, Comrade Ibrahim Attah Isah said the Minister of Health should urgently intervene in the alleged administrative irregularity on-going at the agency. Addressing the workers, Isah said: “We are here to picket the Director of Admin and Human Resources, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, unfortunately she is not here, but we want to make it clear to her that we have heard her atrocities in NAFDAC.”
He explained that many of their members have been suspended for over a year while no attempt is on to investigate their guilt or otherwise. “Some people have been on suspension since October last year without their salary being paid and it is against the public service rule.
“If anyone committed any offence, after maximum of three months, the person should be called back and investigated but while you are doing that such person is entitled to half pay.”
“Last year, the Agency declared 21 vacancies for Chief Regulatory Officers and to move to that position, you have to be Assistant Chief. The Agency invited 37 staff to write the exam and 25 passed. Instead of promoting 21 out of the 25 that passed, Director of Administration and Human resources promoted only 15 staff, he said.
On his part, the Union’s Secretary, NAFDAC Chapter, Anzaku Peters said: “This year, three vacancies were declared for that same position and they are inviting 27 people to write the exam, our question is what will happen to the previous six people that passed?” Further, he alleged that the Agency had introduced some offices which do not exist in public service rule.
“They introduced the office of Deputy Director in Charge, in public service such does not exist. When a director leaves, you nominate an acting director which you will notify the Head of Service, Federal Civil Service Commission and tell them that this person is acting director and will be there for a particular period of time, then you fill form 66 so that when time comes you can have a substantive director by either retaining the person or appointing new substantive director for that position, but what we have in NAFDAC is impunity, they have turned everything upside down.
Union executives are now being re-deployed without following due process in accordance with Labour Act. We are appealing to the Minister to look into all these issues.” Anzaku Peters said all efforts to table their grievances to the management proved abortive as several letters were turned down without any feedback.
He however hinted that the Union may be forced to embark on an indefinite strike nationwide. “Few weeks ago, we embarked on a week warning strike, I am seeing an indefinite strike looming around the corner if these issues were not properly addressed.” he noted.