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Health sector shutdown looms as JOHESU gives FG 15-day ultimatum

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  • Six days after similar threat by NMA, others

A total shutdown of the health sector is imminent as the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professionals Association (AHPA) have threatened to commence an indefinite strike in 15 days if the Federal Government fails to address “outstanding welfare issues” of its members.

The unions’ threat is coming barely six days after the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government.

The sector is already facing disruption in services because of the industrial action commenced by the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors on August 2.

JOHESU, which is the umbrella body for all health workers’ unions and associations, issued the strike notice to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, in a memo dated September 2.

The notice was jointly signed by the National President of Medical and Health Workers’ Union, Biobelemonye Josiah; its Acting Secretary General, Comrade Yusuf A. Kiyawa; the National President, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Comrade (Dr.) Ogbonna O.C. and its General Secretary, Comrade Martin Egbanubi.

Others are: National President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Comrade Michael E. Nnachi and Deputy Gen. Secretary, NANNM, Comrade Nuhu Philip; National President, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Comrade (Dr.) Mako lo Hassan, and NASU General Secretary, Com (Prince) Peters Adeyemi JP.

The notice was also signed by National President, Senior Staff Association of Universities’ Teaching Hospitals Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Comrade (Dr.) E. O. Popoola and its Ag. Gen. Sec., Comrade (Dr.) B. A. Akintola and AHPA Executive, Comrade Olumide Akintayo.

Copies of the memo were sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Office of the President of the Senate; Speaker of the House of Representatives; the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment; the Director General, Department of State Service; the Inspector General of Police Force; the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum; the President, Nigeria Labour Congress and the President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria.

In the letter, JOHESU listed some of the welfare issues to include the adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHES), payment of all withheld salaries, review of the implementation of COVID-19 special inducement and hazard allowance, increase in retirement age from 60 to 65 years for health workers and 70 years for consultants.

“Others are payment of reviewed hazard allowance in terms of payment that guarantee fairness and justice to all concerned; payment of actual 30 per cent consolidated basic shift duty allowance to nurses/midwives and others; payment of teaching allowance to members on CONHESS 7 and 8 (nurses, midwives and others) and proper placement of nurse graduates and interns.”

The union also listed other demands to include the payment of outstanding salaries of intern health professionals and proper implementation of the consultant pharmacist cadre for pharmacists in the public sector.

The letter reads: “You will recall that up till the time of writing this letter, the federal government has not deemed it fit to honour the terms of settlement entered into with JOHESU since September 2017.

“This is especially the upward review of CONHESS salary structure as agreed, to be completed within five weeks from the date of agreement amongst other requests.

“Government did not deem it fit to address these key issues during the duration of the last seven days warning strike and has only met with JOHESU on July 12.

“JOHESU, in compliance with the provision of Section 41 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap.T8 LFN 2004, is constrained to give the Federal Government of Nigeria 15 days ultimatum with effect from September 3.

“This also is to inform you that with effect from midnight of September 17, all our members in the federal health institutions shall embark on an indefinite strike action in all state and local government health institutions.

“You are all placed on red alert for the strike if the federal government foot drags in attending to our demands.”

The unions said they had shown patriotism despite the government’s “nonchalant attitude” to the welfare of health workers.

The Nation

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Nigerians To Pay More For Beverages, Sweetened Drinks As FG Enforces Sugar Tax

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The Federal Government has commenced the implementation of the N10 per litre sugar tax on carbonated sugar drinks and beverages.

According to the Chief Superintendent of Customs, Department of Excise, Free Trade Zone and Industrial Incentives, Dennis Ituma, the tax would help combat Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

He spoke at a Policy Breakfast Meeting which held in Abuja this weekend.

The event was organised by the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) to proffer ways to implement tax and other interventions to reduce consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) in Nigeria.

The implementation is coming despite pleas by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and some related stakeholders who asked the government to halt the policy introduced in the Finance Act, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 2021.

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In a statement, the Coalition Representative of the 12-member NASR, Omei Bongos-Ikwue, quoted  the Customs official as saying the services had commenced.

“The N10 per litre of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages has been implemented on June 1, by July 21, all excise duties must have been collected and paid into the federation account. It should interest you that taxation on SSBs was a policy of the Federal Government in 1984 but was stopped in January 2009.

“Previously both SSBs, alcoholic drinks and tobacco were all taxed until 2009 when SSBs was removed from taxable beverages,” he said.

Members of the NASR are Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Nigeria Cancer Society, Breast Without Spot, Lafiya Wealth Initiative, TalkHealth9ja, Nigeria Health Watch, Project PINK BLUE, Sustainable Development Initiative, African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), Bundies Care Initiative, and Nigerian Heart Foundation.

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Ekweremadu: Immigration says Ukpo birthday certificate shows he’s 21 not 15

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Birth certificate of Ekweremadu ‘kidney donor’ shows he’s 21, says immigration

The Nigeria Immigration Service says David Ukpo, the “kidney donor” at the centre of the organ harvesting allegation against Ike Ekweremadu, is 21 years old — not 15.

Spokesman for the NIS, Amos Okpu, disclosed this in a statement released on Sunday.

Okpu said the birth certificate presented by Ukpo during his international passport registration showed that he is 21 years old.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, were arrested last Thursday and arraigned in court for allegedly bringing a child to the UK for organ harvesting.

They were subsequently remanded in custody till July 7 while investigations are still ongoing.

The senator had written to the UK high commission to support a visa application of a “donor”.

Although the UK police said the donor was 15, Ukpo was listed as 21 years old on his international passport and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) portal.

The immigration spokesman said the birth certificate issued by the National Population Commission (NPC) and the national identity number (NIN) slip presented by Ukpo indicated that he is 21.

He explained that Ukpo’s date of birth was listed as October 12, 2000 — meaning he will be 22 years old in October 2022.

“The facts of the matter concerning the case above, therefore, are that the said Mr David Ukpo Nwamina applied and paid for the enhanced standard passport using the NIS portal after which he approached the Gwagwalada Passport Office, FCT Abuja, on the 2nd November 2021 for his interview,” the statement reads.

“To support his application, Mr. Nwamina presented all the necessary documents required, including his National Population Commission (NPC) issued Birth Certificate, showing 12 October, 2000, as his date of birth; his National Identity Number (NIN) corroborating the date of birth on his birth certificate, issued by NIMC; a letter of introduction issued by Ebonyi State Government Liaison Office situated at Maitama District Abuja, and a Guarantor’s form duly signed by one Mr. Uchechukwu Chukwuma Ogbonno.
“In view of the above, the general public may wish to be informed that the date of birth, or any other information for that matter, on any Nigerian passport is printed on the document only after a thorough vetting process that involves both physical and forensic examination of the applicant’s breeder documents. Mr. Nwamina’s case, therefore, was not different.”

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South African police investigate death of 20 in nightclub 

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South African police are investigating the deaths of at least 20 people at a nightclub in the coastal town of East London early Sunday morning.

According to AP, it is unclear what led to the deaths of the young people, who were reportedly attending a party to celebrate the end of winter school exams.

Local newspaper Daily Dispatch reported that bodies were strewn across tables and chairs without any visible signs of injuries.

“At this point we cannot confirm the cause of death,” said health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana.

“We are going to conduct autopsies as soon as possible to establish the probable cause of death. The deceased have been taken to state mortuaries,” Manana added.

The owner of the club, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA that he had been called to the scene early Sunday morning.

“I am still uncertain about what really happened, but when I was called in the morning I was told the place was too full and that some people were trying to force their way into the tavern,” he said.

“However, we will hear what the police say about the cause of death,” Ndevu added.

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