4th May, 2012
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Friday assured Lagosians that government was doing all in its power to end the strike of doctors in its hospitals as soon as possible, appealing to the people to remain calm while also showing more understanding.
Addressing hundreds of Lagos men and women who marched to Lagos House, under the aegis of Concerned Lagosians, to show concern over the strike and show their solidarity with the government, Governor Fashola apologised to the people for the inconveniences they are undergoing as a result of the strike but promised that government would soon find solution to the problem.
Describing the on-going strike as a very painful period, Governor Fashola regretted that lives were being lost as a result of the continued strike and expressed regrets that neither he nor his administration could bring back any life that has been lost.
According to the Governor, “Since 2002, at least to my knowledge, we have worked to improve the conditions in which the doctors and nurses and other health workers operate; from their offices to the libraries, to the theatres, to the School of Medicine, and we have not stopped.”
Noting that the great transformation being witnessed in the state’s healthcare delivery since 2002, was done with tax-payers’ money, Governor Fashola declared, “But the truth is that hospitals, by themselves, don’t save life. It is people who do so”, expressing regrets that government could not stand up for the people when they needed it most.
“I assure you that we will end this strike as soon as possible. I appeal to you to remain calm and show more understanding until we find our way out of this. We will continue to run our health missions and bring healthcare closer to you in your various local governments”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola said the objective of his administration has always been to make the hospitals a place of last resort, adding “we want to do things to ensure that we keep you healthy”.
Earlier, the spokesman of the group, Mr. Sesan Sobande, had told the governor that the group was at the Lagos House to show solidarity with the government as well as concern over the strike which, according to him, has had a devastating effect on the people of Lagos.
Sobande, who commended the state government for the tremendous improvement in the hospitals and clinics in the state, noted that Lagosians were not unaware of the great efforts being continuously made by the present administration to improve the quality of healthcare in the state including equipping the hospitals with state-of-the-art facilities.
Calling on the striking doctors to return to work in the interest of the people of Lagos, the spokesman said the claim about inadequate salary and remunerations being advanced by the doctors could not stand, going by the published figures and facts concerning their current welfare package.
He told the Governor, “We are here to solidarise with government. Whichever way you want to end the strike, we want to be able to go to hospital from Monday. We are tired of seeing deaths in our hospitals”.
A female spokesman, Evangelist Bilikisu Popoola, lamented that most of the doctors have their private clinics which they run while they make the government hospitals their secondary assignment, adding that even while working in the government hospitals, they often refer the patients to their private hospitals for purchase of drugs and other treatments at exorbitant costs to the patients.
She called on the government to retire those of them who are not committed to working in general hospitals, adding “They should not be allowed to destroy the good works of this governor and his administration.”
Participants in the march, comprising people of different ethics groups resident in Lagos, carried placards some of which read “Doctors, allow Lagosians to enjoy dividends of democracy”, “Doctors save and don’t kill Lagosians”, “Doctors you lament over money while Lagosians die”, “Doctors are a clog in the wheel of progress in Lagos State”, “Protection of life is paramount in Lagos State, Doctors please go back to work”.
With the Governor to receive the protesters were the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris and his Special Duties counterpart, Dr. Wale Ahmed and the Special Adviser on Health, Dr. (Mrs.) Yewande Adesina, among other members of the State Executive Council and other top government functionaries.