EXACTLY one week to the end of the deadline given by doctors in the employ of the Lagos State government to the government to begin negotiations with them on issues bordering on the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), The Guardian gathered yesterday that both parties are yet to commence talks on the matter.
Lagos State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Edamisan Temiye, said that the only thing his members have heard about the negotiation plans was a committee set up by the state government to look into salary issues of health workers in the state.
He said that the committee was short of the expectations of his members because no member of NMA was included in the committee, adding that they only he only learnt about in the media.
He warned that if by next Saturday, the government refuses to call members of the Medical Guild and NMA for negotiations, they would have no option than to meet with the intention of embarking on another strike.
Several attempts to get comments from the Lagos State government on the matter failed yesterday as calls and text messages put through to both the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris and his Information counterpart, Lateef Aderemi Igbiroba, were not answered.
The Lagos State Government had sacked 788 medical doctors in one fell swoop on May 4, for going on strike and refusing to answer queries. The crisis paralysed the healthcare sector in the state until the end of May when the state government recalled the doctors after compllaints from members of the public.
According to a source, the last strike was called off on the altar of politics devoid of public interest.
“Lagos State Government actually meant to sack the doctors. But when the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) declared their intention to go on strike over the sack, the Presidency was shaken. President Jonathan appealed to them to call off the strike, and made known his plan to come to Lagos to broker peace between the stae government and the doctors.
“When leaders of Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) in Lagos got hint of the president’s plan, they where not comfortable. They knew that if the president comes to Lagos, he would end the crisis and that would have been a plus for the PDP in the state. That was why it had to take the leadership of ACN to make the public announcement that the doctors had been recalled,” the source said.
The source, who is very close to the doctors, told The Guardian that another strike by Lagos doctors may affect doctors under the employ of the Federal Government nationwide as the National NMA had pledged during reinstatement of the sacked doctors to join the strike if the Lagos State government refuses to meet demands of the doctors during negotiations.
But NMA President, Dr. Osahon Enabule, could not be reached for his comment on the development.
Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote also confirmed that Lagos State Government was yet to call his members for negotiation.
His words: “We have not started any negotiation; they have not called us for any negotiation at all. The committee they (Lagos State government) set up, we do not know who are its members. The committee was supposed to have started work on Monday. But we do not know what is going on.”