Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole has warned the striking medical doctors employed by the state to go back to work or he would be forced to wield the big stick and impose the “no work, no pay” rule.
Speaking yesterday at a meeting with the Association of Resident Doctors, Medical and Dental Consultants Association in Government House, Benin City, Oshiomole described the ongoing nationwide warning strike by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) as provocative, avoidable, illegal and unnecessary as it affects Edo State.
“If you have any grievance you are obliged by law, by tradition; compelled by your own oath not to abandon your patients as if there is pleasure. The facts are not in dispute because doctors under in the employment of Edo State Government are not staff of the federal government,” Oshiomole said.
According to him, “The federal government has no hand in your employment, promotion and posting. How we find money to pay, the federal government has no hand in it. So, I believe therefore, that even if we are to talk in the context of employer-employee relationship, you are obliged by law to state the particulars of your grievance to your employer.”
Oshiomhole argued that there was nothing in the convention or the law that allows the doctors to simply walk out of their jobs, adding “the fact that your colleagues under federal employment had dispute and they sought meeting with the Minister of Health, those are meetings between your colleagues and the federal government. How is Edo State a part of that?”
He stressed: “I expect that if you feel obliged to go on that strike, I think you should inform us that the strike is inevitable. I do understand the logic and essence of solidarity, but in this business, before you resort to solidarity action, people who are themselves directly involved in the dispute may choose on their own to first go on strike.
“If after sometime you feel that no one is listening and there is need to reinforce by way of solidarity, subject to the rule of law, then you can decide to go on a secondary action. I am not aware that you can go on strike the same day as those who are directly affected,” he said.
The governor expressed worry that if solidarity was the basis of Edo doctors’ participation in the strike, doctors in the private practice should have been part of the action.
“I am unable to resist the conclusion that the strike like some other ones are designed to enrich those at the private practice by shutting down public hospitals so that those who are sick have no choice but to go to private clinics where some of your members on strike from work go to their own clinics to work.
“And to think that anyone would do this, such that those who cannot afford private health care are now left to die, is a gross abuse of your skills. It borders on blackmail on the entire system and holds all of us to ransom.
“When a doctor no longer bother about the life of a patient that is the beginning of the end.”
Oshiomhole warned that “In Edo State, we will not submit to this blackmail. You are doing essential services because of the nature of your work. You are not expected to go on strike. Let us realise that beyond naira and kobo, there is life.
“I simply don’t understand why the NMA wants to preside over mass death on the eve of Christmas. Even If you don’t have other sentiments, on the mood of the Christmas, you choose to watch people die. That is why yesterday, I told the Commissioner for Health to put you on notice that if a doctor choose not to work, I am sure they also know that they have elected not to be paid.
“Where else in the world do doctors go on warning strike for five consecutive days? If the idea is to warn, do you really need five days to watch people die for you to make your point? I worry for Nigeria because no country can make it this kind of cycle,” Oshiomole fumed.
The governor therefore expressed disappointment at the manner of solidarity by the Edo chapter of the NMA and called on them to have a rethink to save the lives of the people.