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OAUTHC Laid-off Employees: Nigerians And The Endurance Problem

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OAUTHC Laid-off Employees: Nigerians And The Endurance Problem

By Sodiq Lawal Chocomilo

I recently discovered that Nigerians have problems with endurance. They can endure any pain, injustice, or bad or terrible action for a long time. This, I’ve figured out, is the strength of politicians, including top people in the civil service. When I sat down, I discovered that some Nigerians are not only cowards but also lack the enduring spirit to drive home their demands. They prefer to continue suffering than to bear the risks associated with decisions. We also have problems with selective oppressors. We can dine with A after accusing B by consoling ourselves that A is not responsible for our problems. Both A and B dine together in secret.

Two weeks ago, the gates leading to the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex were shut down by aggrieved laid-off employees. They held several placards depicting their demands before they could open the gates. Men, including women with their babies, were agitating in the hot sun during the day while they slept in the same spot to be fed upon by mosquitoes at night. On Thursday, at the OAU Teaching Hospital Complex, they were so angry, agitated, and conspicuously vexed. John Okeniyi, the Chief Medical Director of OAUTHC, allegedly drove them to the breaking point.

Before I went, I saw footage and images from the protest location, and what I saw there was a group of helpless Nigerians who had been duped and asked to perform at their worst. For four days, crying babies and heartbroken mothers entertained John Okeniyi and the other members of the OAUTHC management team in front of the hospital entrance. They (management) were unable to contain their excitement because they were having so much fun. No matter how engaging a film may be, a weary viewer will undoubtedly end the session. The members of OAUTHC’s management board are individuals who never tire. They enjoyed the lamentation of the laid-off employees and they do not want them to stop.

Unfortunately, Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi’s intervention on the fourth day brought an end to the misery of OAUTHC’s laid-off staff. Along with bags of food to be distributed among the laid-off workers, he gave them N10 million. Additionally, he pledged to get in touch with John Okeniyi, the CMD of OAUTHC, and important players in the medical field to address this grave issue. Was that term “serious” I just used really correct? Naturally, it is. Do the victims realize how serious this problem is? That I am unable to say. 

Two weeks after the demonstration ended, I was still upset about how the victims had squandered their money, time, and energy by organizing a protest that had no outcomes. Receiving N10m and sacks of rice from Ooni of Ife was not the original goal of the demonstration. The protest leaders are expected to receive 50 lashes while standing in the sweltering sun in their underwear. You terminated the demonstration in exchange for N10 million and rice bags, failing to meet one of the three demands. This is abuse of protest. Three demands from you sparked a four-day protest. These three demands are to pay the outstanding salaries, retract the accusation of job racketeering, and notify the public that they were employed through memo.

What has fascinated me after the protest ended is how these demonstrators were able to have faith in Ooni of Ife to settle the ongoing conflict between OAUTHC and the laid-off employees. Even though Ooni is a first-class monarch, his authority is only applicable to the Ife resort, palace, and other native-based businesses in which he most likely has stock. This is not a question of ownership. It is not a chieftaincy issue. Ooni of Ife just got involved to accomplish his goal of allowing patients and workers to enter the complex easily and preventing an escalation of the situation. We can’t expect Ooni of Ife not to perform his job properly, but we may question the protest leaders about why they failed to take responsibility for carrying out their requests.

As I thought about the situation, the general sense of loss and the purposeful throwing money or temporary fixes to issues weighed on my mind. There were more than 2,000 people working there. You just asked them not report to work due to job racketeering. You later requested 500 to continue while 1500 should be put away. It would be pardonable if it were a master-slave relationship, but this is between a set of privileged people and those who put them in office. Less than a week following Ooni of Ife’s intervention, a number of laid-off workers stormed the hospital complex, claiming they had heard from reliable sources that very few of them had been assigned to take exams. They swarmed the hospital grounds, vowing to sabotage the drill. Police stormed the hospital grounds and used tear gas to chase them out after they refused to leave for hours. Their gain was that the exam failed to hold, but their loss was that they felt tear gas.

You’ll realize why endurance seems to be a problem for Nigerians if you ever sit down with some of these laid-off individuals and listen to their experiences. You’ll even ask them to move permanently to the hospital’s gate while wearing boxing gloves and visiting their homes. I’ve heard accounts from people who quit their prior positions in order to take a position with the federal government. In order to obtain these employment, several people told me they had to sell off assets like vehicles. They did not get a wage when they were hired. They needed loans since they assumed it will be reimbursed later. They were forced to sell their properties or look for other loans months later. To live, some have turned into infamous debtors. There are also a lot of people who owe their wards’ school fees and rent. I have no idea how they sleep at night, moping about debt when they have unpaid paychecks for the past 14 months. This is evil.

Like President Bola Tinubu, like the CMD of OAUTHC, John Okeniyi, like the Ministry of Health, Both the greedy and the shameless are not different from each other. They did not investigate the alleged job racketeering. They did not apprehend the real culprits; rather, they sent employees away. That’s what cowards do. They walk away from situations and use weaker ones as bait. John Okeniyi has found in President Tinubu a mentor and coward. Tinubu also removed fuel subsidies rather than fighting subsidy scams or oil theft. He floated Naira as a currency instead of waging war against bank owners and Bureau de Change operators, among others, who weakened Naira through selfish desires. You floated the currency of a country whose economy is unstructured and unorganized.

Why did Tinubu remove subsidies without enhancing public transportation? Why did he float the naira as a currency without boosting local production and exportation? Tinubu stacked governors’ purses with gains from subsidy removal and could not even ask them what they did with it. You know someone is greedy, and you are still throwing more funds at him. Governors who cannot account for N5 billion would never account for N10 billion. Tinubu understood that our governors are notorious embezzlers, yet he’s throwing more funds at them and asking citizens who are chained by hunger to serve as watchdogs. Like Tinubu, who removed subsidy and used its gains to drive the luxury lifestyle of the political class and expected the clappings of the masses, the CMD of OAUTHC thought he could take 500 workers out of wood while the remaining 1500 workers would smile at him. 

Eni nkan na de ba lo le ro yin ohun to n sele, lorisirisi iriri aye. Only a person who has personally faced misfortune can truly express the terrible occurrences taking place on this planet. Let me be clear: laid-off employees have experienced adversity, and their tales are indeed terrible. If you ask them why it took them so long to express their dissatisfaction publicly, they will tell you that the people they contacted told them to endure. And if you ask them why they are still not occupying OAUTHC, they would tell you that Ooni of Ife and other stakeholders told them to endure till they solved this issue. Where is the solution? Not available. Just endure and die. That’s the message. If something were to go wrong, someone might wonder if it’s my business, or perhaps I should just tell them to bear it. It’s true that Nigerians struggle with endurance.

 
Disclaimer: This piece represents the opinion of the writer not that of Blaze Newz Nigeria

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