27th May, 2012
Lagos State Government on Saturday condemned the recourse to blackmail and arm twisting by the Nigeria Medical Association and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on the issue of medical doctors sacked in the state over an illegal strike.
The State Government in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, said it would soon be clear to the people that it is the NUPENG whose stock in trade is to call a strike at every flimsy excuse that is seeking to inflict more pains on the people through its sympathy strike and not the State Government that has taken decisive steps to restore normalcy in the health sector in Lagos State.
Noting that NUPENG has shown clearly by its rash ultimatum that it had a clear political agenda, the Commissioner said it was most unfortunate that NUPENG’s voice was not raised in defence of doctors in the military hospitals who have not been paid for nine whole months while calling a strike in support of doctors who are well paid up to date but who chose to abandon their patients with many avoidable deaths recorded adding that, in other climes, such doctors should be facing prosecution now.
The statement also reiterated the State Government’s warning against the continued intimidation of old and newly employed doctors who have conscientiously decided to work in the state hospitals to save lives by the Nigeria Medical Association.
According to the statement, NUPENG should not use the doctors’ strike as a subterfuge to get back at the Lagos State Government for spearheading the much needed clearing of Apapa which has become a nightmare to lawful residents and businesses in the area due to indiscriminate parking and blockade of the roads by tanker drivers
The statement also noted that the medical profession is one that has always been a refined profession that is guided by decorum from its members as distinct from the present set of political jobbers who are masquerading as medical doctors and issuing unguarded statements like the ones from the leadership of the NMA in the Federal Capital Territory and Oyo State.
According to the commissioner, the State Government would not be stampeded or intimidated by the antics of politically sponsored unions into abdicating its responsibilities to the citizenry and the rest of its workforce, adding that the dictatorship of a union to the detriment of the well being of the society will not stand.
While thanking the well meaning Nigerians and civil society organizations, traditional rulers, religious leaders, the members of the Bar and Federal Parliament who have offered meaningful intervention towards the resolution of the situation, the Commissioner noted with dismay the antics of doctors who abandoned their patients without any justifiable reason and who are currently engaged in a campaign of calumny against the State Government and the Doctors who are ready to offer conscientious service to the people.
The statement added: “We have observed that some people are still making efforts to intimidate the doctors who are working in our hospitals, threatening to ‘report’ them to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) and arrange for them to be ‘punished”.
The laws setting up MDCN are detailed in the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap 221 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and the Code of Conduct of Medical Ethics is a body of rules drawn up by MDCN to guide professional conduct of Medical and Dental Practitioners, the Statement noted.
The statement also lists the responsibilities of MDCN to include determining the standard of knowledge and skill to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the medical or dental profession, securing the establishment and maintenance of register of persons entitled to practice as members of the medical profession, reviewing and preparing the code of conduct and performing other functions conferred on MDCN by the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act.
“The MDCN is modeled after the highest traditions of a profession that has traditionally been held in the highest esteem by other professions, but is now running the risk of being brought into disrepute by the misguided activities of some people.”
Mr Ibirogba said the MDCN has a mandate to apply sanctions on erring practitioners for such infractions as ‘Infamous Conduct’ and ‘Professional Misconduct’.
The statement went further to state that It is bizarre in the extreme for anyone to suggest that taking up an employment offer for which one is qualified could conceivably be construed as belonging to either of these two categories, which are defined strictly along professional lines, in accordance with international standards.
The statement adds that It is as absurd as saying that anyone could be disciplined by the MDCN for refusing to attend meetings of the NMA (like most doctors currently believe), or failing to vote for a particular candidate in an election.
“Every registered Medical and Dental Practitioner is supposed to have received a copy of the MDCN Code of Medical Ethics. Part of what this was meant to achieve is that nobody should be in a position to hoodwink any doctors with vague threats of illegal use of statutory powers belonging to a regulatory body that is supposed to be totally insulated from petty politics”.
“In the recent past the MDCN itself has come out strongly against the detrimental effect of frequent and precipitate strike actions by doctors, which invariably cost the lives of innocent citizens and put a taint on the profession”, the statement adds.
He said the deliberate dissemination of such lies and threats by misguided elements within the ranks of the striking Nigerian Medical Association who may be identified can itself be construed as professional misconduct, and will be reported as such to the appropriate quarters for necessary action.
The commissioner assured the good citizens of Lagos State of the resolve of Government to ensure a rapid scale-up of services in the State’s hospitals back to full operational status as soon as possible.