Federal Psychiatric Hospital Uselu Workers on Strike, Threaten to Release Lunatics
There is tension and confusion at Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Uselu, Edo state, southsouth Nigeria, following protest by members of staff of the hospital and mass protest by Uselu community chiefs and youths over the appointment of Dr. Sunday Olotu as Medical Director of the hospital.
The protesters had called for the retention of Acting Medical Director of the health institution, Dr. O. C Ikeji as substantive Medical Director.
Dr. Olotu had been appointed as substantive Medical Director of the hospital via a letter of appointment dated 26 March 2012 and signed by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the staff of the hospital, however, kicked against the appointment of Dr. Olotu. It issued a notice on 2 April, 2012, signed by its Chairman, Comrade K. O. Oriakhi and five others, calling for a three-day warning strike.
When we visited the hospital along New Lagos Road, Benin at about 9.00 am Tuesday, workers were seen discussing in groups, just as all doors to administrative buildings were all locked.
Uselu community chiefs and youths had yesterday afternoon staged a march round town, calling for the retention of Dr. Ikeji as CMD of the hospital.
They alleged that Dr. Ikeji had done so much to develop and stabilise the hospital and Uselu community.
The Uselu chiefs threatened that should the federal government go ahead to announce Dr. Olotu as substantive CMD of the psychiatric hospital it would be tantamount to looking for their trouble, following which they will embark on a three-day warning strike after which they will open the gates leading to the wards and release the psychiatric patients into the streets of Benin.
The Uselu community chiefs however made a U-turn this morning, saying that their previous stance was based on misinformation.
A press statement issued and signed by the PRO of Uselu Psychiatric Hospital, Stewart Efe however described the activities of those behind the strike as “upsurge of dissidents and gangsterism.”
“It may interest you to know that the appointment letter dated 26/3/2012 and signed by the Health Minister, Dr. Mohammad Ali Pate has been handed over to Dr. Sunny Osasu Olotu, thus confirming his appointment, which takes effect as from 20/3/2012,” the press statement said.
When contacted, Dr. Olotu who spoke on phone from Abuja said that he was in Abuja with the Minister of State for Health with a view to resolving the crisis, which he said was uncalled for, just as he frowned at the activities of those agitating for Dr. Ikeji.
“It is supposed to be a political appointment and not a labour matter, hence there was no reason why the union should engage in protest,” Dr. Olotu said.
He, however, appealed for all to be calm, adding that the crisis would soon be resolved amicably.
—Jethro Ibileke/ Benin City