Activities at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri were temporally paralysed, on Thursday, following a peaceful demonstration embarked upon by staff of the hospital over planned privatisation of the establishment.
The protesting workers, under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), alleged that the management of the hospital had concluded plans to privatise the hospital, under the guise of private public partnership (PPP), before the expiration of the current administration in the country.
The aggrieved staff, who marched to the hospital board room, where the board members were holding a meeting, to press home on their demands, carried placards with different inscriptions. Some of the placards read: “With privatisation, our jobs are at stake”, “Laboratory department is not for sale”, “Hospital is not a profit-making company”, and “We need help. This is a farce. This privatisation is fake.”
Speaking to journalists at the hospital premises, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, FMC Owerri branch, Mr. Clifford Ezeugwu, described the FMC Owerri as the most expensive federal government-owned hospital in the country.
Ezeugwu, who explained that every unit in the hospital was functional and efficient, stressed that, the internally-generated revenue of the hospital was the highest among the federal health establishments in Nigeria.
“What is going to happen to the masses and staff, if the hospital is privatised? No FMC in this country has been privatised except FMC, Owerri,” Ezeugwu said.
Also speaking, a member of the union, Mr. Sam Nwokeji, alleged that the management had not paid the 2013/2014 promotion arrears, lamenting that it was only the FMC Owerri that had not paid the arrears.
“Our management wants to sell off the hospital, under the guise of PPP and we say ‘no’ to it. We will continue to kick against it, because it is against the interest of both the staff and the masses.”
Addressing the protesting staff, the Chairman of the board of the hospital, Mr. Amadi Okoroafor, acknowledged that the board had received the privatisation documents from the management of the hospital and assured them the stakeholders would be involved before arriving at any decision.
He advised the leadership of the union to go back and study the privatisation procedure before they were invited by the board to defend their petition.