July 4, 2014 – Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Friday assured of early call-off of the nation-wide strike action embarked upon by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) which has crippled hospital services, hinting that the strike would be called off in the next few days.
The Governor who fielded questions from Journalists in Asaba, Delta State observed that lives have been lost as a result of the strike action, noting that he has met with all the parties involved in the industrial face-off and that members of NMA have agreed that if they could not call off the strike action, skeletal services would be rendered for the sake of lives of Nigerians.
“If you recall, the doctors gave a warning strike sometime in December, 2013, they were to go on another strike early January but, we had to intervene and some agreements were reached with the Federal Government,” the Governor said, adding, “I understand that some of those agreements that were reached have not been fulfilled and that is some of the reasons they had to go on strike that started on the 1st of July.”
He said he had to move to Abuja when the strike commenced and put together a team of some medical doctors in government including the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; Dr. Doyin Okupe Special Adviser to Mr. President on Public Communications, and held a meeting with the government team led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Ayim; Minister for Health; Minister of State for Health; Minister for Labour; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health.
“Thereafter we held a special meeting with them and discussed the major issues, we then brought in the officials of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and extensive meetings were held till quite late into the night.”
“I think reasonably some of the issues have been resolved and hopefully, emergency services should start very soon, by God’s grace in the next few days because, they still need to meet with the delegates (I think they call it the emergency delegate meeting) in the next few days hopefully,” the governor stated.
He also, debunked insinuations that the strike action have political undertone, asserting: “Having met with both sides, I will not read political meaning into it, I didn’t pick up any political undertone to it and I think that they might be some challenges with the management of the issues at one point or the other but, both parties involved in the issue met and I cannot read political meaning to the strike action.”
“Some of us don’t believe in strike and I personally do not believe strike is the best means of achieving whatever I want to achieve, there is no doubt that there are challenges in the health sector especially, with the doctors and sometimes some of the attitude of those of us in government and the way we operate can push workers to go on strike,” he added.
He decried the situation where strike has to be embarked upon to resolve the issues at stake saying: “When I heard about this particular strike action, I will say I was taken aback, I was surprised because I didn’t know it had gotten to an extent where the officials will go on strike because, as much as possible the medical profession should be one of the set of workers that should be very wary of strike because, for every minute of strike, lives are lost and for lives that are lost you can never get the life back and that is why I had to work with the then NMA President to see how we could talk to ourselves on the issue of strike.”
On why he intervened to see to the end of the strike action, he said it was based on the fact that he is a medical doctor, a concerned citizen and as governor of a state who was not comfortable with the strike action.
“I’m intervening on many fronts: I’m intervening as a medical doctor because each time I hear of strike in the medical profession I get very embarrassed, secondly, I think as a Governor of a state, at least one of the persons who has the reach within members of NMA and that is why I used to tell people that, if you have the reach to be able to intervene on any issue just try and do it, so, I am also intervening because with my position as a Governor of a state, I have some reach to those that are concerned that can resolve the matter,” Dr Uduaghan stated.