David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), has given Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano until Tuesday next week to approve increment in their salaries or have the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital grounded.
The chairman of MDCAN in the state, Dr. Chukwudi Okani, told journalists in a press conference after an emergency meeting of the body that they were afraid that many patients would lose their lives if they went on strike, but said there was no going back on the planned action if Obiano failed to act.
He said, “You will recall that on 8th July 2019, we suspended our strike after the state government reached out to us, and showed willingness to meet our demands.
“We constituted a committee that will harmonise our demands. We are disappointed that four months after, nothing has been done to address our yearnings.
“We are the least paid medical consultants in the entire country, and following our yearnings, the committee set up by the government to look into our plight adopted a template from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology Teaching Hospital.
“Up till now, nothing has been done. We do not want to go on strike because we know that people will die if we do, but at the same time we cannot continue to live under this present condition, because our pay is nothing to write home about.
“Governor Obiano has until Tuesday next week to do the right thing, else, we may not guarantee industrial action. And once we go to strike, we will not return until we see alerts on our phones, and we know that people will die.”
In a swift reply however, Obiano said that the doctors had no justification to embark on strike.
In a press release made available to THISDAY in Awka and signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C Don Adinuba, the government said, the notice of strike was a mere attempt to stampede the committee constituted by the government to accept uncritically its demands and recommend them to the governor for immediate implementation.
“Neither the news conference nor the threat was necessary. Both the government and resident doctors are basically on the same page.
“Governor Obiano has accepted that the state of affairs at the state teaching hospital is not good enough. He has directed that all doctors, and not just those doing their residency work there, who have not enjoyed any promotion in the last seven years be promoted subject to the required process.
“The failure to promote them all these long years has to do with the absence of conditions of service in the hospital. To rectify this error and ensure it never reoccurs, a committee of COOUTH senior staff was set up to work out how it could be done and the board approved it. The governor has graciously accepted it, too. The implementation will start soon.”