Stop starving us, Abia health workers tell government

Governor Ikpeazu of Abia State

Hundreds of workers of Abia Hospitals Management Board (HMB), on Monday in Umuahia, staged a protest against the non-payment of their 11 months salaries and leave allowances.

The protesters, who locked the entrance to the headquarters of the board located on Aba Road, said that the inability of the state government to pay them had left many of them in precarious situations.

The placard-carrying protesters barricaded the road as they chanted anti-government songs.

Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Pay us our 11 months salary”, “Our 2017 annual leave allowance not paid”, Stop starving us” and “Our children are out of school”, among others.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesters, who came from various HMB offices across the state, paralysed official activities at the board’s headquarters.

Speaking with journalists, Mr Ejike Nwaukwa, Chairman, Medical and Health Workers’ Union, HMB branch, said that they were protesting because government had failed to come to their rescue despite their writing series of letters to express their plight.

“The last time we were paid salaries was in September 2018. We have not been paid our 2017 leave allowances till date.

“Notwithstanding, we have been coming to work, hoping that government will come to our rescue, until last week Monday when we stopped coming to work and had to lock up our offices,” he said.

Nwaukwa, who said that the board had about 18 general hospitals, with over 1,000 workers, claimed that the union had lost some of its members because of the situation.

Mr Okoro Ogbonnaya, the Chairman, Medical and Health Workers’ Union in Abia, condemned the situation and assured the workers of the union’s support.

Ogbonnaya called for urgent intervention by the executive and the legislative arms of government to ameliorate the plight of the workers.

One of the protesters, Mrs Chidinma Wokeoma, described the situation as unbearable, saying that she had been relying on charity for survival.

“I am a widow with two children who are in the university. If not for the help I have been getting from people, my children would have dropped out of school by now,” Wokeoma said.

Mr Onyebuchi Ememmanka, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, was not available to react to the development when NAN visited his office.

However, when a call was put through to him, he said: “I’m not in Umuahia at the moment, but I will come back in two hours’ time. I will react officially to it after consulting with the management of HMB.”