UCH Workers Threaten Strike Over Power Cut

Medical and nonmedical workers of Nigeria’s premier teaching hospital, the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan on Wednesday threatened to down tools over lack of electricity in the expansive hospital complex.

The Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) on March 19, 2024 disconnected the hospital from the national grid and left the fate of patients including babies on incubators at the mercy of the diesel-powered generators.

Reacting to the situation in the hospital, the Joint Action Committee (JAC), the umbrella body of workers’ unions in the hospital  after a meeting on Wednesday called on the Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde to intervene and save the hospital from collapse.

The JAC comprises members of Non-academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), and Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals Research Institutions and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAN).

Speaking to journalists, the JAC Chairman, Comrade Oludayo Olabampe, confirmed that hospital the IBEDC disconnected the hospital Tuesday, March 19 unpaid electricity bill of N495 million.

Olabampe said:

“The congress is about briefing our members on the actions we have taken on their behalf to address their welfare while the power outage last since Tuesday last week.

“Since Tuesday last week, we have been experiencing total power outage simply because the IBEDC cut our light, they said UCH is owing N495m debt. And they said we must settle a substantial amount before the power can be restored.

“Since that happened, our members have been going through a lot of unbearable conditions to perform their duties. We cannot allow this to continue. So, we felt we must do something to address it. We must let Nigerians know what is happening to UCH. Look at this hospital that served the whole Nigeria. If this is happening to UCH that means it is happening to all Nigerians.

“We want to say that if you come to UCH now you may not get the best of care because of power outage. UCH has been in darkness and nothing is working. We are calling on well to do Nigerians to come to our rescue. People in government. They should help UCH.

“Our members are languishing, they are working like slaves, imagine a situation when you work in a hospital without light. We cannot continue to work in darkness. We don’t want to lose any member.

“Some of our members are exposed to high risks, we cannot pump water, we are using torchlights to work. So, we want to reduce the hazard. We cannot continue to work in darkness.”


Earlier, the spokesman of IBEDC, Busolami Tunwase told journalists that the debt of UCH was hindering the smooth operations of the company and that all efforts to negotiate payments has been futile.

“UCH is owing us, it is correct. They owe about N500m. We have written to them more than four times. We have called for a meeting so that we can sit down and discuss and spread the debt even if they cannot pay once. We just want to know how to get our money”

“We have kept it this far because we understand the critical nature of the UCH and the lives involved. There is no way we will just go and disconnect them.

“But currently, there is a fault around that area. There is a local fault around that area; that is what necessitated this outage. It is just a coincidence that this one is coming when we are trying to get them to sit down with us to have a meeting on how to settle their debt,” Tunwase said.

On his part, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo while acknowledging that indeed the hospital was is indebted to IBEDC pleaded that the electricity company should take into account the fact that the hospital renders social services primarily. He noted that the IBEDC was charging the hospital as if it were a profit-making factory.

The CMD explains:

“The company should realise that we are rendering social services. Lots of people come here for treatment without having any money.

“So these are the things IBEDC should consider and not treat us as if we are a manufacturing company.”

“We are owing about four hundred and seventy something million, but about N200 million of it is owed by College Of Medicine, not UCH.

“But because UI’s College of Medicine is within UCH, they lumped us together, whereas we are separate agencies. While the college belongs to the Federal ministry of Education, UCH belongs to the Federal Ministry of Health.”

“We pay between N30 million and N45 million every month as electricity bills, but IBEDC gives us bills ranging from N45 million to N71 million.

“Whereas, we only receive N14 million for overhead per month from the government, we supplement it with our internally-general revenue (IGR).”

The CMD has appealed to both the government and public spirited individuals and organisations to step forward and help the hospital out of the situation.

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