Medical doctors working with Osun Government on Thursday, July 6, staged another peaceful protest, the third in two months, over the non-payment of their salary arrears and poor condition of public hospitals in the State. The protest was led by the Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Osun State chapter, Dr Tokunbo Olajumoke. The doctors staged similar protest on June 1, on the same issues.
The doctors, who chanted anti – government slogans marched from the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo to the popular Olaiya Junction to Oke Fia Roundabout.
The NMA chairman , who later addressed journalists, said salaries of doctors had been slashed drastically, saying they were now receiving a paltry 30 percent of their salaries while the state government was taxing them based on the 100 per cent of the salaries.
Olajumoke said that the doctors were not carried along when the governor decided to order that their salaries should be slashed .
“ Our protest is not only centred on our salaries rather on our hospitals that lacked equipment and drugs. The conditions of our hospitals are bad, there are no drugs: the most expensive drugs in many hospitals are paracetamol and other painkillers. We say no to obnoxious tax regime , we say no to amputated salaries and we want our hospitals to work in the interest of the people , who can not afford to seek treatment abroad”.
Reacting to the protest, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Adelani Baderinwa , appealed to the doctors to show understanding with the government .
Osun Physicians March (June 1st) For Second Time In One Month
For the second time in one month, physicians in the employment of Nigeria’s Osun state government, an arm of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Thursday, staged another peaceful protest in Osogbo, the Osun state capital. It will be recalled that the medical personnel on May 4, all dressed in their medical robes marched through major streets in the state capital to protest half salary being paid them by government for almost two years. The association also said the health sector in the state was not well-funded.
The medical doctors again trooped out in protest, reportedly saying after the May 4 peaceful protest, Osun state government ignored them and never attempted to bring them to the negotiation table.
The Osun State Government has previously disagreed with the claims by the Nigeria Medical Association in the state, that it has been insensitive to the welfare of its doctors.
A statement by the Director of the Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Semiu Okanlawon, following the previous May 4 protest, stated that the claims by the NMA were “far from the truth.”
“This government has engaged the doctors, perhaps, more than any other category of workers in the state, on the need to equally be sensitive to the hardship foisted on the finances of the state especially since Nigeria as a whole entered into its trying period of economic recession.
The Osun government has developed perhaps the most ingenious formula for satisfying the needs of its workforce within the limit of the available resources. This was what necessitated the setting up of a revenue apportionment committee led by no less personality than a former number (one) labour leader in Nigeria and veteran labour activists on the continent of Africa, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu.”
On the state of the health facilities, the government noted that the doctors should be fair enough to admit that the health sector of Osun had witnessed a huge improvement since the coming of the present administration.
“Apart from the huge investment of about N1.8 billion for the upgrading of the state General Hospitals, this administration has ensured that health care safety and emergency measures are improved as with the provision of the state-of-the-art ambulances across the length and breadth of this state
As a professional body whose duty it is to save lives, we expect and continue to implore the doctors to see themselves as partners with the government in the overall task of ensuring the sanctity of lives which the doctors also swore an oath to protect.
We hereby wish to reiterate for the umpteenth time, that the Rauf Aregbesola administration remains a labour-friendly one and we have always called on all groups, including the NMA to be sensitive to the prevailing economic situation across the land while the government continues its relentless efforts to make the best of the situation we have found ourselves as a country.”
You will recall that The Kogi state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, also directed its members to embark on an indefinite strike over government’s failure to pay doctors’ salaries.