The striking healthcare workers in Ekiti State have rejected the government’s offer to pay N5,000 monthly hazard allowance while working out modalities to address their other demands.
The leadership of the medical doctors’ group- Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (AGGMDP) and that of the state’s chapter of the Joint Associations and Unions of Ekiti State Healthcare Workers confirmed this development on Saturday.
The doctors accused the Governor Kayode Fayemi-led administration of lacking the goodwill to earn their trust.
The chairman of AGGMDP, Sunday Adeniyi, had on July 6, reported the outcome of a meeting with government representatives on the matter to his colleagues.
According to Adeniyi, a meeting with the doctors on the same day had been attended by the state’s secretary to the government, head of service, commissioner for health, permanent secretaries in charge of ministries of establishments, finance and health, among other critical stakeholders.
The doctors were represented by the chairman of the state’s chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Tunji Omotayo; the chairman of the association’s remuneration committee, identified simply as Dr Rosiji, and Mr Adeniyi, among others.
Adeniyi said that his members have concluded that the strike would not be called off “until other critical issues, and particularly the ‘skipping’ matter is addressed,” Premium Times reports.
He said the government’s team, which was led by the SSG, had offered to pay the statutory N5,000 monthly hazard allowance.
While seeking the members’ response, Adeniyi had reportedly said that; “The government team, ably led by the SSG appealed to all doctors, after he appreciated our roles in the state. Their offer still remains the paltry N5,000 hazard allowance for all.
“Although, they all agreed that our requests are germane but that the state doesn’t have money. We are told to come and sign an MoU tomorrow agreeing to the N5,000 to call off our strike.”
According to the Premium Times reported that almost all the doctors opposed the proposal.
Meanwhile, Adeniyi on July 8 hinted of an MoU by the government and the request for the doctors’ signature.
He added that the government promised that all other requests “would receive necessary attention as soon as the financial status of the state gets better.”
But according to him, his members objected to the proposal, claiming payment of statutory allowance shouldn’t attract the signing of an MoU.
He said; “They appreciated the governor for the effort because for more than 10 years, doctors employed by the Ekiti State Government through the Health Management Board have not been receiving the allowance. You can imagine doctors working without hazard allowance.
“But the crux of the matter as we have continued to reiterate is the ‘skipping’ which simply refers to the domestication of the entry level grade policy for medical doctors as contained in a federal government of 2014. Our colleagues at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), which is owned by the same government, have been benefiting from this. Also at the Federal Medical Centre, Ido-Osi, it is the same. So what is our offence?”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Joint Associations and Unions of Ekiti State Healthcare Workers, Femi Ajolokan, has said his union also rejected the government’s offer, adding that until other basic requests are met, the strike would continue.
Speaking on the phone with our reporter, Ajoloko, whose union comprises the state chapters of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals which comprises pharmacists, among others, said the offer of hazard alone by government is not enough to convince his members to return to work.
“We just left the meeting now and we have expressed our position clearly to the government. Though the government has reiterated its commitment to payment of hazard allowance, it is not enough to get us back to work and that was why we are yet to sign the agreement,” Mr Ajoloko said.
But the state’s commissioner for health, Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, said the government remains committed to healthcare workers’ welfare in the state.
She added that meetings had been held to address the issue and appealed to the striking workers to consider the offer placed before them in the interest of the masses.
Mrs Yaya-Kolade said the state has insured about 500 healthcare workers to the tune of N2.5 billion, adding the offer of statutory N5,000 hazard allowance “is another commitment of the government to lifting the health sector”.
“I can assure you that this administration is committed to the welfare of the state’s workers and the insurance cover for about 500 of the healthcare workers to the tune of N2.5 billion is a huge one,” the commissioner said on the phone.
However, some healthcare workers have denied the commissioner’s claim, saying no one has been insured by the state.
“That is a lie my brother. You can quote me that I said Ekiti State has not insured a single healthcare worker,” Mr Ajoloko said.
Similarly, one of the doctors at a general hospital in Ekiti, who did not want to be named, described the commissioner’s claim as “mere propaganda.”
“Maybe the commissioner is talking of another Ekiti State. Not even anyone on the frontline has been insured,” he said. “The only insurance cover we have as doctors was facilitated for us by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), and we pay by ourselves. That is the kind of lies they keep telling around.”