By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The intervention of the President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki was very critical to ending the strike by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).
The Union which called off its 6 weeks strike on Thursday, made it categorically clear in their statement that the intervention of Saraki contributed immensely to their decision to shelve the strike.
The union embarked on a nationwide strike on April 17, 2018 to press home its demands over allowances and welfare, which government signed on Sept. 30, 2017.
The statement issued by the Union Chairman Mr Josiah Biobelemoye reads in part:
“Saraki has put machinery in place with a view to permanently resolve the issues in contention.
“JOHESU considered Saraki’s intervention after holding just two meetings with the leadership, where serious progress was made and the gains presented to NEC of JOHESU after exhaustive deliberations.
“The NEC in the session approved that the strike be suspended on May 31 because of sympathy for the suffering Nigerian masses and also pave way for further negotiations to continue on Monday, June 4, 2018.’’
Biobelemoye emphasised that the strike was neither ill nor politically motivated but was a move to save the health sector from imminent collapse.
Recall that the President of the Senate had called the Union for a meeting with a view to addressing their grievances.
The meeting of the Union with the Senate’s President immediately culminated to a meeting between Saraki and the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige and the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole.
This is not the first time Saraki is intervening in a major strike affecting the Nigerian people.
In July 2017, recall that The President of the Senate intervened in unending strike by lecturers of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, (LAUTECH).
Saraki’s intervention and further meetings with stakeholders, which earned him wide commendation by Nigerians, on social and conventional media eventually led to the suspension of the strike in October.
Lecturers of LAUTECH had gone on strike on June 2 over poor funding by the two owner states of the university, Oyo and Osun.
The President of the Senate in November also intervened in the outstanding payment of over N2 billion in scholarships allowances to Nigerian students abroad.
Saraki upon returning from the 137th Inter-parliamentary Union Assembly (IPU), in Russia, and having been briefed by Nigerian students on their plight, called a meeting with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the Federal Scholarship Board (FSB).
At the meeting, Saraki said: “We must look for ways to reestablish the pipelines and remove the bottlenecks, so that our students who went abroad with the promise and assurance of scholarship funding, will get their stipends as and when due.
“Under the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) entered into by Nigeria and several foreign governments, some of the host countries have responsibility for part of the upkeep of Nigerian students – while Nigeria must necessarily fulfill her own part.
“If we don’t rectify this situation – let me put it bluntly – we would be sacrificing their futures; and that, is unthinkable.” He said.
He therefore directed the FSB to prepare a comprehensive report on the outstanding allowances and tuition and submit to the education committees to enable the Senate make provision for its settlement in the budget.
Also, when the Kwara Polytechnic students protested a school-fees hike, the President of the Senate intervened.
In a statement which he personally signed, Saraki who took sides with the prtesting students, urged the state government to take another look at the fees which had gone up by N20,000.
Although the management of the institution insisted that there was no hike, Saraki appealed that the present economic situation was too harsh for a hike.