The Nigeria Labour Congress has appealed to President Mahammadu Buhari to intervene in the six weeks old strike by staff of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State.
The appeal was contained in letter signed by the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Friday.
The letter said the urgent intervention of the President would forestall “the deepening of a consequential run away industrial conflict”.
Wabba said: “Workers in the institution have been on strike for the past six weeks, protesting against the utter contempt for the rule of law in the wake of established corrupt practices against the Medical Director, Dr Angela Uwakwem.
“This condemnable situation has been worsened by outright refusal of Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Linus Awute, to bring to Mr President’s attention for approval, the Management Board’s resolution.
“The board has recommended that the medical director and the top management proceed on leave to pave way for a thorough investigation into the matter.”
The letter said the President may wish to know that a prima facie case of gross financial misconduct and embezzlement had been established against the medical director.
The letter added that this was by way of an illegal virement of personnel costs meant to pay staff promotion arrears for 2013 and 2014.
It also spoke of siphoning of funds meant for the running of the centre through channels of a questionable privatisation process of some sections and services rendered by the hospital.
It added that it was on the strength of the prima facie case established by the board that the FMC, Owerri board halted the privatisation process.
The letter also said the board passed a resolution that the MD and indicted members of her Top Management Committee should proceed on compulsory leave.
It said this was to enable full investigation to take place as prescribed by law and the Public Service Rules.
The letter said the MD and the indicted TMC members refused to budge, leveraging on their ally – the permanent secretary’s cover for their “nefarious acts”.
It said this was an utter disregard to the powers and authority of the board of the institution to make recommendations to Mr. President on matters of this nature.
Wabba said further in the letter: “This is the background to the indefinite strike by workers in the medical centre, which has now gone on for the past six weeks, with dire consequences.
“This perpetuation of illegality and illegitimacy by the MD and her team, we strongly believe, must not be allowed to continue.
“Similarly, the permanent secretary must not be allowed to continue to usurp the powers of the President by holding onto the board’s recommendation to you, Sir.”
The letter called on the President to intervene by considering and approving the necessary recommendations of the board or a directive action to the circumstances.
It also called for urgent payment of all outstanding entitlements of affected workers adding that this will go a long way in enthroning greater productivity and better industrial harmony in the centre.