Abia State health workers have cried out over the rate at which their colleagues are dying out of frustration, suffering and hunger following the non-payment of salaries for over 12 months.
Officials of the Abia State Hospital Management Board stated this in Umuahia on Tuesday, while protesting over unpaid salaries, lamenting that the state government had turned the board into a place of frustration, pain and death.
An official of the board said, “We buried three of our members last week and three are in the mortuary, and there is no money to bury them.
“One of us, a young lady, has recently developed mental problem. She walks about on the street aimlessly.”
The workers staged a protest at the front of their office which was under lock and key, wielding placards with inscriptions such as, “Save our souls in HMB”, “Our children are dying of hunger”, “Pay HMB workers their 12 months’ salary arrears” and “Our landlords are on our necks for house rent” among others.
Speaking during the protest, the state chairman of Allied Action Committee, Echeta Chikezie, stated that government paid the basic salaries of 2019 just last year; pointing out that the workers accepted it because of the suffering they were going through.
The agreement with the state government, he said, stated that from 2022, the workers will be paid alongside core ministries as of when due.
“We have decided to be working outside the gate instead of working inside and dying inside,” he said.
Chikezie, who regretted that the workers had been made to protest all the time before they were paid, stated, “This is how we are paid, we must lock up the gate, protest, cry out, plead before payment. Workers deserve their wages, it is our right and not a privilege.”
The state chairman, Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria, HMB branch, Chidinma Nwokoma, who said health workers were going through hell, stated, “We are treated with so much wickedness and pain.”
She regretted that since the inception of the Ikpeazu-led administration, they had suffered much and must protest before they get one month salary.
She added, “Our heart is bleeding that the governor, whose mother is retired as a nurse, a health worker, can hate us this much. We are treated like a second class citizen and our children are being thrown out of school.”
Reacting, a staff of HMB, Nkechi Gabriel, reiterated that a HMB woman in her home could not take care of her family.
Gabriel stated, “I was taken to court recently by my landlord because I could not pay my rent, the judge, whose sister is a staff of HMB and aware of our our plight, had mercy on me.”