2,897 volunteers, temporary health workers issue 2 weeks ultimatum to Bauchi government over employment, threaten to withdraw services

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Leaders of the volunteer health workers in Bauchi state

By Akanji Alowolodu, Bauchi

2,897 Health graduates who have offered their professional services voluntarily working in various PHCs across Bauchi State under the aegis of ‘Bauchi State Union of Volunteers and Temporary Health Workers’ have threatened to withdraw their services. 
The volunteer health workers therefore gave a two week ultimatum to the State government in agitation for permanent employment into the Civil service after serving for a long time voluntarily. 
The volunteers said that they may be forced to withdraw their voluntary services in the twenty Local government areas of the state Public Healthcare facilities over the non-challant attitude of the government towards their plight having promised to engage them but nothing has been done.
State Chairman of the Union of Volunteers and Temporary Health Workers, Comrade Yusuf Aliyu Fada who addressed a press conference on Tuesday at the Cikin Fada Primary Health Care center in Bauchi, said that the over 100 healthcare facilities in the state are headed by its members without monthly allowances and employment for over a decade.

The Chairman also said that despite the fact that they are volunteers, they still raise funds among themselves to purchase medical consumables and drugs in order to render free medical services to all the hard to reach areas of the state.
He added that some of the health services the members render at the health facilities in the state include creating awareness campaign on second wave of Covid-19, organizing rallies with posters and banners in compliance with NCDC protocol guidelines, organizing public lectures on important of Covid-19 vaccine and the importance of supporting government in the fight against COVID-19 as well as conducting spraying and chlorination of wells during cholera outbreak in the state voluntarily.
According to him, “During 2019 gubernatorial manifestos presentation held at DEC conference hall, G.R.A, Bauchi, we drew the attention of His excellency, the governor of Bauchi State who was contesting for the seat of the governor on the plight of volunteer health workers in the state, despite the numerous Humanitarian service being rendered to vulnerable members of the society and healthcare facilities/hospitals across 20 LGA’s of the state.
“We pleaded with him to intervene when he emerged as executive governor of Bauchi state.His reply was that he will casualize the services of the volunteer health workers within 100 days in office. When he become governor of the state, after one year in office, all the promises were not fulfilled”, he lamented. 
He added that, “We sent many reminding letters to the governor’s office, SSG office and Chief of Staff, but there was no respond. Thereafter, we then decided to conduct a peaceful demonstration with good faith, thinking that our letters of reminder have not yet reached the table of the governor, that was why there was no response.”

Yusuf Aliyu Fada said that, “Our thinking was that hopefully, if we reach the government house protesting in large numbers, the governor will respond to our demands. We were well organized for the planned peaceful demonstration on the 2nd of March, 2020, but on 1st March 2020, we received a call from the Chief Security Officer to the Government house drawing our attention to have a dialogue with the government at the government house Bauchi around 8:30pm between our officials and the then commissioner of health, Dr. Aliyu Maigoro”.
With all these promises made several times without keeping their words,we are becoming hopeless especially considering the following factors which include over 10 years without single official employment in the health sector, no replacement for over 10 years despite exodus of health workers through retirement every blessed month, Increase in mortality rate recorded for many years, transfer of service and  construction of over 150 new healthcare facilitie within 10 years, without single employment” he said.
But in a reaction to the development, the State Commissioner of Health, Dr Samaila Dahuwa said that the state government is looking into their plight with a view of employing them. 
The Commissioner added that the volunteer workers should exercise patience as the state government is not unmindful of what they are going through.
He however reminded them that, “They are volunteers meaning, they chose to volunteer not that someone asked them to. However, they are making great contributions in the health sector in Bauchi state. Nobody would be happy to get to the point of lacking manpower to the extent that people will volunteer”.
He added that, “Why volunteers are allowed to work is so that when the government wants to employ workers, they will have an edge and be considered first.We plead with them not to withdraw their services but they should continue since they volunteered. They should also know that the government is working on their issues and they will soon be addressed”. 

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