8th November, 2010
Striking doctors in the Lagos State public hospitals have accused the Lagos StateÂ Government of lying over the real issue that led to the strike, saying thatÂ government was only resorting to cheap blackmail.
The doctors were referring to the advertorial placed by the state government inÂ several dailies yesterday accusing the doctors of refusing to dialogue with theÂ government and that they had refused to appear before the Committee on theÂ Development of Pay Policy, Review and Salary Determination in the state publicÂ service.
Vice Chairman, Medical Guild, Dr. Taofeek Majolagbe told P.M. NEWS that the stateÂ government was only resorting to cheap blackmail and lying over the issue at stakeÂ and refused to address the plight of the doctors.
â€œIt is all lies and it is unfortunate that the state government is resorting toÂ cheap blackmail.Â There has not been any offer as at today.Â The committee they saidÂ we did not appear before it had already concluded its report by 30 September, 2010.
â€œWe actually met with the committee even though we did not aver to it.Â GovernmentÂ should come out with the report of the committee; that may help to resolve the issueÂ rather than peddling lies about us,â€ said Majolagbe.
As for the state government accusing the doctors of refusing to call off the strikeÂ despite intervention by the Oba of Lagos, the governor and prominent Lagosians,Â Majolagbe said â€œwhat kind of meeting?Â Is it the meeting the Oba of Lagos held withÂ our chairman and told us to go and call off the strike by 7.00 p.m. that day?â€
He stated also that the meeting with Governor Babatunde Fashola,Â ended with theÂ governor lambasting the doctors, adding that only said they would never negotiateÂ with the doctors under pressure.
â€œThey have already told us that they control the media and that they will use theÂ media against us and go on a media war,â€ he said, but said the doctors were notÂ perturbed.
Stating the state governmentâ€™s position, Commissioner for Information and Strategy,Â Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele lamented that the strike had continued until now despiteÂ personal intervention by Fashola, the State House of Assembly, former governors,Â elder statesmen, senior medical practitioners and well meaning Lagosians.
According to Opeyemi, the strike was being prolonged because of the insistence thatÂ all existing Establishment and Civil Service procedures be set aside by the governorÂ by arbitrarily directing a salary increment for doctors alone to the exclusion ofÂ other professional cadres in the health sector and service wide.
â€œWhen recently, the Federal Government, without prior consultation with the otherÂ two tiers of government introduced a specialised salary structure for doctors in itsÂ employ, called CONMESS, some of the associations of doctors in the state, especiallyÂ the Association of Resident Doctors and the Medical Guild, began agitations for anÂ immediate implementation of same structure in Lagos State.â€
â€œThe decision of the doctors was without consideration for the directive of theÂ national body of the Nigeria Medical Association which said no state chapter shouldÂ threaten or embark on any strike over CONMESS,â€ he stated.
The commissioner said the doctors had also refused to appear before the committeeÂ set up by the government to determine a new pay package for all its employees, butÂ wanted the government to by-pass civil service procedure and meet their needsÂ immediately.
According to him, â€œthe doctors had refused to negotiate with the committee or makeÂ any representation to it but insisted on the governor single handedly signing aÂ paper for them or directing by fiat, a wage increase for the doctors alone.
â€œThe governor has consistently stated that he would not be coerced or blackmailedÂ into acting in an arbitrary manner, noting that even the intransigence of theÂ doctors and any interest group trying to make political capital out of theÂ unfortunate development would not make him violate well established public serviceÂ rules and law.â€
The commissioner stated that rather than blame the government for not negotiatingÂ with the doctors as being mischievously projected, â€œall men of good will shouldÂ prevail on the Medical Guild and the Association of Resident Doctors to call off theÂ strike forthwith and resume negotiation with the government in the interest of theÂ good people of Lagos State and the Hippocratic Oath they took as caregivers.â€