Lagos State Government has reabsorbed 34 medical doctors out of the 788 sacked recently by the state government, THISDAY can report.
It was gathered that the 34 doctors had re-applied to the state Ministry of Health, following which Governor Babatunde Fashola, approved their being reabsorbed into the state ministry. The state government, it was gathered, also added that by the move, it was not foreclosing further reabsorbing of other doctors, who also have applied to be reabsorbed.
Meanwhile, a new twist emerged Monday as the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) issued the Federal Government a two-week ultimatum within which it should prevail on the state government to recall the 788 medical doctors or face an indefinite strike.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said Fashola had accepted its offer to intervene in talks between the state government and the medical doctors.
The NARD, in a communiqué jointly signed by its President, Dr. Chiedozie Achonwa and Acting Secretary General, Dr. Usman Galadima, after its ordinary general meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and read to journalists in Abuja, said it had already directed its members nationwide to proceed on a three-day warning strike scheduled for May 31 to June 2,
Achonwa said: “NARD therefore resolved to perfect its mandate by giving the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum commencing from May 28 (yesterday) to prevail on the Lagos State government to recall the Doctors and implement earlier agreements or face an indefinite nationwide strike in solidarity with our colleagues.”
On its part, NLC’s Head of Information/Publicity, Chris Uyot, said in a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday that contact had already been established between the NLC President, Comrade Abdulwahed Omar and the state Governor.
He stated that the governor had assured the union of his willingness to accept the intervention. NLC said the crisis could still be solved if all parties in the dispute were willing to embrace dialogue and consider the interests of the people in Lagos State as well as respect relevant national labour laws and conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
It added that the strike continued to hold dire consequences for the majority of patients who have been denied access to medical services.
In another development, the NLC has joined the Trade Union Congress (TUC), to kick against the proposed increase in electricity tariff slated for this week, saying such increase should only be contemplated when there is an improvement in electricity supply.
Omar, who disclosed this in a statement, said the move was insensitive to the plight of Nigerian workers and the masses.
According to him, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) which ruled a year ago that meter maintenance fee was illegal has not taken steps to ensure that consumers receive a refund of the monies that were paid as maintenance fee, and has not lived up to its promise to provide pre-paid meters to all Nigerians.
“The position of NERC that the sector requires substantial increase in tariff for investment to be possible is not tenable; so is the assurance that the working poor and rural poor would not be adversely affected by the increase. Experience has shown that deregulation has never benefited the Nigerian poor. Rather, the corporate class rips off the people,” Omar said in the statement. The NLC chief also disagreed with claims by NERC that it has done a thorough job to sensitize Nigerians about the new tariffs, noting that many still remain confused about the tariff regime and its impact on their lives.
Not even workers and their unions in the PHCN have been consulted, Omar added.
“We reiterate our view that given the sleaze in the sector a few years ago, and the poor services underscored by epileptic power supply as well as capacity deficit of regulators, the rational step should be to improve power supply and distribution capacity before a contemplated tariff review,” he said.
Meanwhile, ASUU’s National President, Ukachukwu Awuzie, at a press conference in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, frowned on the state government’s decision to sack the doctors, who were exercising their fundamental human right as enabled by both the constitution of the land as well as labour law.
According to him, the sack of the doctors was irrational and urged Fashola to come down from the high horse and face the reality by announcing to Lagosians and all Nigerians the commitment of government to implementing CONMESS as earlier agreed with the NMA.
“We do not see the rationality in sacking 788 doctors in any society, especially in Nigeria and Lagos State in particular which has less than 10 per cent of the doctors that it needs. The flexing of power is irrational and in this case also detrimental to the well-being of the people, government is elected to serve.
“For the sake of God and humanity, the government of Lagos State should come down from its high horse and face the reality that it’s so called ad hoc recruitment of doctors would not solve the problem nor will the government be able to replace these doctors with foreign ones as they cannot pay them,” Awuzie said. The ASUU chief who noted that the present stance of the Lagos State government "falls short of premium concern for life”, vowed, “this shall be reversed. It does not portray the government as concerned with the health and well-being of an average Lagosian.”
Describing the press briefing as the first step in the mediation of the union in the lingering crisis, the ASUU boss explained that it would watch the government for sometime before it takes further action which he said would be based on deliberation by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union at its pre-delegate conference meeting holding in Abuja this weekend.
The ASUU president charged Lagos State government to recall all doctors sacked for participating in the current strike and undertake to refrain from victimizing any doctor for participating in the on-going strike.
He insisted that Nigerian doctors are patriots and should not be treated like villains, saying: “The government should recall the doctors while discussion on any grey area could be handled thereafter. This is the only wise and reasonable thing to do now, we must put aside our ego and do that which is for the greater good of our people and Lagosians in particular.”