Akeredolu’s attack on Ondo Doctors dehumanizing —NMA

By: Oluwatosin Adesola

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Ondo State Chapter has expressed displeasure over unwarranted attacks on its members in the state government service by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

The Association in a press statement described the governor’s comment as disparaging, dehumanizing and condescending.

Akeredolu had during a media interview on thursday, warned medical doctors in the State’s workforce to stop rejecting percentage salaries amidst dwindling funds.

The governor noted that the doctors can’t be dictating to his government as if they are different from other workers, saying “doctors in the state should not try to say they won’t collect salary percentage as agreed at the labour meeting.

“They shouldn’t try this again. We are not fearful; we are ready for them. They are not different from teachers, lawyers, journalists and other categories in the state.

“All of them have students going to school like doctors. People should help us talk to them,” Akeredolu stated.

However reacting, the NMA State Chairman, Dr. Stella Adegbehingbe and State Secretary, Dr. Olorunfemi Owa, said the governor’s comment was inaccurate, saying “We cannot ask Mr. Governor to resign because we still believe that he has not failed and can still have a change of heart.”

The NMA leadership said, “TWO-HEADED DOCTORS: OUR RIPOSTE TO MR GOVERNOR: The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) consists of many affiliates. Some of our affiliates are populated by Doctors employed by the Ondo State Government. It is in this regard that the Ondo State Branch of NMA feels compelled to respond to this point to what is troubling her members about the disposition of the Governor of Ondo State.

“Arakunrin Oluwamtimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN) is, by the grace of God, the Executive Governor of Ondo State; the Sunshine State, today. His office automatically attracts honour and deserves respect. We shall hold dearly our duty to uphold the obligation of respect to that office.

“This self-restriant is in the face of obvious provocation, as contained in his many statements which we find disparaging, dehumanizing and condescending to our noble profession made on tape at an interview session on the 3nd of June. 2021.

“Ours is an enviable profession. with a revered responsibility to cater for the needs of a mostly voiceless populace, who are often vulnerable and defenseless. WE ARE MEDICAL DOCTORS. We genuinely care.

“The immediate need for this press release was precipitated by Mr. Govemor’s outburst seeking to know whether “Doctors have two heads“ to be asking that they be paid their 100% salary. It is rather unfortunate that Mr. Governor, who was voted for, is outraged that we had the audacity to request our dues from his administration.

“He is apparently of the view that since he sporadically pays less than 100% of monthly salaries to other workers. we should meekly accept less than 100% of our hard-earned salaries from his administration. Mr. Governor chose to vilify Doctors for asking him to ensure that he meets contractual obligations freely entered by the state government.

“Regrettably, Mr. Governor elected to irritably disregard basic obligations of government to her citizens. He has chosen to blame victims of govemment’s indebtedness for the inability of the same government to perform its duties.

“His govemment demands that her workers should work on credit, while gratefully accepting less than their due wages, along with insults, packaged as an admonition. While we refuse to respond with the same unfair language utilized by Mr. Governor on us medical Doctors, we believe in communicating lucidly and respectfully advancing our advocacy.

“Mr. Governor, we have attempted to meet with you on several occasion without success. We have also written several letters, with no reply. The most recent of these sought to call your attention to an avoidable but imminent collapse of the Health sector in Ondo State. We are to place the following facts in the public domain. with the hope that well-meaning citizens will be able to reach and persuade you to act fast.

“Mr. Governor stated on tape, that Ondo State pays the highest salary to her Health workers compared with other States in Nigeria. Sir, with due respect, that statement is inaccurate.

“A simple search would have revealed that Oyo, Osun and Ekiti State: pay higher salaries than Ondo State. and theirs have also remained regular. This partly explain the large scale shameful exodus of Health workers to neighbouring states and private hospitals. We cannot ask Mr. Governor to resign because we still believe that he has not failed and can still have a change of heart.

“The last salary payment made by the Ondo State Government was for the month of February 2021 , and was paid in June 2021 This fact, of indebtedness and avoidable delay in payment of salaries, should ordinarily attract a different approach hunt a responsive government.

“We demand that we should be paid 100% of our salary (even if others are paid in percentages) and that it must be regular if others have agreed. upon persuasion or coercion, to receive less than their dues. it is a false equivalence to expect us, to agree to such an unrighteous suggestion. it is pertinent to note that the Government still owes her workers four months salaries despite the misdirected anger of Mr. Governor.

“We demand that the backlog of salaries of Ondo State Health workers should be paid, immediately, to boost the waning and sagging morale of these group of workers, as well as stem the incrementally teeming tide of relocation of our members to destinations outside the state and country, for work and survival.

“Then, is a real, impending. and existential danger of all previously accredited programmes at the UNIMEDTHC losing such status. The resultant effect of departures in qualitative and numbered personnel creates an incapability to drive the training programmes that were previously accredited, which had been enviably secured by deliberate in expensive efforts of successive State governments. We must ensure that these laudable achievements do not go to waste.

“Mr. Governor Sir, Healthcare workers and particularly medical Doctors are leaving the employment of the State, in droves. This has led to a chronic shortage in manpower with crushing overwork of those on the ground who ate working on credit.

“it is a widely known fact that some General Hospitals are left with only two (2) medical Doctors. This means they are at work and on-call every day of the week, despite not receiving their wages. as at when due.

“Some Departments in the State~owned Teaching Hospital, which could hitherto boast of between 6 and 8 Doctors are now left with 1 or 2 Doctors. This makes it practically impossible for the hospital to function at a minimum acceptable level.

“Consequential vacancies in the medical officer cadre need to he urgently tilled. About 50 medical Doctors in this cadre have left the employment of the Hospital Management Board without replacement over the last few months.

“Yawning vacancies exist in the Resident Doctor and Consultant cadres at the Teaching Hospital. These have remained difficult to till due to the haphazard safety payments. We have it on good records that about 105 medical doctors have resigned their employment from the Teaching Hospital in the last year alone.

“Ondo State has not been able to engage requisite numbers of House officers since 2019. This has made our work almost impossible because this group of Doctors have a peculiar role in Health service delivery. It is troubling to note that only three (3) house officers are left in the service of the Ondo State Government across the three senatorial zones.

“There is no gainsaying that the ongoing laudable efforts at having a Contributory Health Insurance Scheme in the state can only be successful it‘ the urgent issue of manpower need is adequately addressed.

“We need to clearly state that we do not have any premise to doubt the integrity of Mr. Governor concerning the handling of the affairs of out members and fulfilling promises already made. The good intention and motivation for the promise of Covid -19 Palliative allowance for Health workers in the state will always remain commendable in our evaluation.

“However, the 3rd tranche of the supposed stimulus package is yet to be paid. despite the declarations of the government. Sir, kindly use your good office to ensure that all outstanding payments ate made and promptly too.

“We are not ignorant that these are challenging times. However, we also know and believe that with appropriate counsel, Mr. Governor will take appropriate steps to treat our members justly and with the due regards that they irrefutably deserve. We pray for great and giant strides in the govemment‘s drive for the good and safety of all,” the NMA said in the press statement.

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