Some health workers recently employed by the management of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital in Ile-Ife, Osun State, have complained about the failure of management to pay their salaries for over 10 months.
These employees revealed the extreme financial hardships they have endured, resorting to begging in order to provide for their families as a result of the prolonged salary delays.
One employee, identified as Ben, shared his personal struggle with PUNCH, stating that he has been unable to support his family ever since he began working at OAUTH on December 13, 2022, due to the non-payment of his salary.
“I was given an appointment letter on December 13, 2022, after the completion of my medicals. I was posted to the place of my primary assignment. Since then, we have been in this sorry-case situation; no salary was paid to me as a staff member.
I have rented an apartment and did a lot of things with my savings in the hope of recovering it when they would start paying me, but nothing came out from it,” he lamented.
A worker, who didn’t want to reveal his name, shared that not getting paid and unfair rules in Nigeria’s healthcare system are causing medical professionals to leave the country.
He said, “Some of the reasons why our medical practitioners, such as doctors, pharmacists, nurses, medical laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, radiographers, etc. are leaving the country to the US, other European and African countries is because the ones that are working in Nigeria are suffering.
“Imagine a medical staff member working in a Federal Government teaching hospital for over 10 months without being paid one kobo because we have not been captured by the IPPIS due to one or two reasons best known to the ministry and the hospital management.
Many lives are already miserable. Staff members are living in debt, families are breaking apart, many are not able to pay their children’s school fees, and some are depressed. How do you want that same worker to attend to a patient?”
He mentioned that despite trying everything to get their requests heard, they couldn’t make it happen. He’s asking the right people in charge to help them out.
“In the past, various health unions, such as JOHESU, had embarked on strike actions in solidarity with the newly employed staff to persuade the management to pay salaries, but these steps yielded no positive result because the employees were always forced or threatened back to work by the ministry of health.
“In September 2023, some officials of the Ministry of Health came to the hospital to carry out a verification for the new staff members. It’s been two months, and till this moment, we have not heard anything from them. The staff members are still working, suffering, and smiling.
“To well-meaning Nigerians and the constituted authorities, please save the soul of the newly employed staff of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital,” he explained.
John Okeniyi, the Chief Medical Director of OAUTH, refused to address inquiries on why these staff salaries remain unpaid.
Okeniyi instead referred to Muhammed Ali Pate’s recent tweet on promises he made to address the issue.
“I am not able to grant you any interviews formally or otherwise at this time because the Hon. Minister of Health (FMoHSW) has waded into this matter, and I can only direct you to see his response to the issue on his Twitter (X) handle. I am awaiting directives from the FMoHSW,” he explained.
Pate, in a tweet on his verified X handle on October 13, confirmed that the investigation had been completed and the issue would be resolved soon.
He tweeted, “We are addressing the OAUTH situation. The investigation has just been completed on this unfortunate situation. We understand the difficulties being faced by numerous innocent health workers and will do our best to resolve it equitably.”