Andy Esiet, Calabar
Barely 24 hours after Resident doctors had called off their two months old strike, 352 intern doctors of the of University of Calabar Teaching hospital, (UCTH) yesterday staged a peaceful protest in Calabar demanding payment of their 11 months old salary.
The interns protested peacefully on the streets of Calabar chanting solidarity songs and carrying placards with various inscriptions as “pay UCTH interns now, don’t harass us, Pay us now, we are hungry , we are frustrated, our rents are expanding ” and many others.
One of the interns, Miss Nmuoeke Maurine said, “the reason for our protest is because of our 11 months salaries and over two months suspension that we don’t even know when it will he called off.
“We have not done anything to the management to attract this unfair treatment, none of us received up to a month salary for the past 11 months and this is discouraging.
“I guess the money should be available because other medical institutions are being paid. Our demand is that they should pay us our complete salary. We did not commit any crime asking for our money, let them lift the suspension. We have worked for our money.”.
Shadrach Atheodor on her part said, “We are not here to fight or make problem, our emphasis Is that we should be paid. I was invited to the DSS Office yesterday,they told us not to do any peaceful protest, the DSS has tried their best but if the management do the needful, we won’t be gathered here today.
“We have written several memos to the Chief Medical Director (CMD) but he has not acknowledged any of the memos, he has refused to respond. We are crying for our Salaries.”.
Another intern, Gideon Duba, said that the UCTH is owing them for 11 months and whenever they try engaging the management for their payments the management keep saying it is a national issue.
Gideon said that their Salaries amount to about N480 million and . called on the federal government, EfCC, minister of health to help resolve the none payment of their salaries.
He said, “we have worked and asked for our salary but they say we are disturbing that we are causing security threats. A memo was released on the 2nd of August , placing us on a one month suspension, to allow for the resolving of the issue but until now, nothing has been done.
“They said we should write an apology letter, we have done so, yet no solution. The management is not sincere in this whole thing. We are 352 in number. We are owed over 480 Million naira and when you open up, they will call the security agency to come after you. we are being enslaved we call on the federal government, the EFCC, Minister of Health, to please look into this issue.”.
Top sources in the UCTH said the intern money has been sent to the hospital by the Federal Government but such money has been diverted by the hospital for something else. Similarly salary arrears for staff since 2016 is suffering same fate despite release by the Federal Government.
However the CMD of UCTH, Professor Ikpeme Ikpeme had earlier denied all these saying the issue is with the Federal Government as all their documents have been prepared and sent to the Health Ministry for verification and payment.