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From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State on Thursday, lashed out doctors in the state for abandoning their jobs and embarking on a warning strike in solidarity with their colleagues under the payroll of the federal government.
He described the action of the doctors as provocative, illegal, avoidable and unnecessary.
It would be recalled that doctors across the country under the umbrella of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, began a five-day warning strike to protest failure of the federal government to keep to a deal on improved welfare for workers and funding for healthcare.
But Oshiomhole in a meeting with the Association of Resident Doctors, Medical and Dental Consultants Association in government House in Benin, said doctors in the state had no business joining the strike when the issues behind the strike had no direct impact on them.
He said as staff of the state government, their salaries and other emoluments were taken care of by the state, adding that the doctors had no right abandoning their jobs for a solidarity strike without first seeking the permission of its employer.
“If you have any grievances you are obliged by law, you are obliged by tradition, you are actually compelled by your own oath not to abandon your patients off as if there is pleasure…The Federal Government has no hand in your employment, no hand in your promotion and they have no hand in your posting… 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 grievances to your employer,” the governor said.
According to the governor, the underlying reason behind the strike may be to enrich those doctors engaged in private practices by shutting down public hospitals so that those who are sick have no choice but to go to private clinics and where they cannot afford the bills, are left to die.
“If solidarity was the basis of your participation, why are doctors in the private practice not part of the action? It 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 borders about the life of a patient, that is the beginning of the end,” Oshiomhole said.
He said even if doctors in the state feel obliged to join their colleagues in registering their dissatisfaction, they are to join in the strike days or weeks after the initial start off date as a form of secondary action and not in the manner that they have done as if they were directly affected.
“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.
Responding on behalf of the others, Eghe Abe said the ssociation would convene to consider the position of the governor in the interest of the state.