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.
A communique jointly signed by its chairman, Tijani Godwin, and Secretary, Zubair Kabiru, after an emergency congress on Tuesday in Lokoja, said that the strike would commence on Wednesday.
The NMA expressed disappointment over government’s inability to pay the doctors’ salaries and arrears as agreed two months ago, and wondered why it was difficult for government to fulfil basic commitments.
“We have presented our demands to government, but none has been met; we are left with no other option than to go on strike,” the association said.
The medical doctors frowned at government’s refusal to clear nine doctors during the screening exercise even after they provided all necessary documents, and also decried the consistent deductions in the salaries and arrears of doctors.
The association advised doctors intending to pick up employment with the Kogi Government to be “very cautious” as many of their colleagues were owed huge sums.
Governor Yahaya Bello Kogi Governor
The NMA embarked on a warning strike in December, 2016 but suspended the action after government promised to pay their salaries.
Government, however, appears to have reneged on that promise, forcing the doctors to abandon the hospitals again.