Delta Commissioner Orders Arrest Of 12 Nurses As Government Threatens Striking Health Workers

The Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye, has allegedly ordered the arrest of at least 12 health workers who are members of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, currently on strike.

SaharaReporters learnt from a source that the government vowed to intimidate members of the NANNM to coerce them into suspending their strike action, rather than addressing the five-point demands of the health union.

The NANNM demanded that the government should look into: one, the demotion of principals of Nursing and Midwifery Schools; two, the imposition of a junior nursing officer as the director of nursing services; three, the non-implementation of nurses that were laterally transferred to the Ministry of Health.

Others include the implementation of License Community Nursing and Midwifery; volunteer nursing recruitment instead of actual recruitment, the general members’ welfare, including promotions, arrears and uniform allowance.

Speaking with SaharaReporters, one of the nurses said, “The Commissioner arrested our members. The total arrested members are now 12. I cannot disclose the names of the arrested. The government will use it to witch-hunt them later. That was what they did to the principals.”  

The government had earlier in a circular dated December 3 threatened to punish any nurse or midwife in the service of the state who embarked on a strike action to protest against demotion, poor welfare and allowances.

The state Ministry of Health, Asaba, issued the threat in a circular, marked, HNC3/T/15, to all principal state schools of nursing and other government centres where the nurses and midwives were domiciled.

In the letter obtained by SaharaReporters, the state government, instead of implementing the demands of the health workers, threatened to deal with any nurse or midwife who “flouts this directive” according to the rule of engagement and extant provisions.

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Nurses, Midwives Begin Indefinite Strike In Delta

SaharaReporters gathered that the health workers commenced their strike on Thursday, based on a five-point demand.

The NANNM directed its unit chairmen and secretaries to ask workers to embark on an indefinite strike on Thursday.

SaharaReporters obtained the circular, which was signed by the NANNM State Secretary, Mr David Ezugwu.

The circular, titled, “State-Wide Strike”, reads, “Sequel to the resolutions adopted by the state executive council and the unwillingness of the Delta State Ministry of Health to heed to our association’s requests as contained in the 14-day ultimatum to the Delta State Government, and other correspondences to the office of the Commissioner for Health, I have the directive to make the following communication to you:

“One, you are by this letter asked to make the final preparation and mobilisation of all members in your unit for the commencement of a state-wide indefinite strike by all nurses and midwives in Delta State.

“Two, there shall be no room for any skeletal services by any of our members in your unit throughout the pendency of the strike.

“Three; that the strike will not be called off until our demands are met. Four, that all our nurses and midwives in your unit are by this communication directed to commence the indefinite strike by 12midnight of December 3.”

But in the government circular, also obtained by SaharaReporters and signed by one Mrs C.I. Nwodi for the health commissioner, the state government, instead of addressing the demands, threatened to deal with the health workers.

This has now led to the arrest of at least 12 members of the health union.

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SaharaReporters, New York

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