NMA Strike, the Health Sector and the Nigerian State! By Ajufo, B. C.
Since the 19th of December all Medical Doctors in Nigeria under Nigeria Medical Association have down tools for no cogent reason. They have refused to attend to the patients they took oath to care for. NMA had hidden under the guise that they went on strike as a result of total decay of infrastructure in the hospital, all in a bid to misinform the general public. The big question is why is NMA on strike when they are under obligation to serve and care for the patients?
In a letter dated 20th November ,2013 addressed to the Honourable Minister of Health Captioned ‘Re-Circular on Skipping of CONHESS 10 and Presidential Committee Report’ with reference number NMA/PRE/SG/011/0688 signed by Dr Osahon Enabulele and his secretary which was copied to the Nigerian National Assembly, Secretary to Federal Government, Head of Service of the Federation and many others, NMA as a body had threatened the Minister that if they implement the circular from the Head of Service, that the Court order in favour of Joint Health Sector Union(JOHESU), made up of all Unions of Health worker outside doctors, as it affects the issue of skipping should be effected and that the earlier circular from the head of Service is a nullity saying no skipping. In the said letter NMA had also agitated that Doctors who are consultants should start on COMESS 3 which is a Super Director cadre. They gave an ultimatum to expire on the 14th of December 2013. She went on to tell her members to down tool, any where the Judgment in favour of JOHESU is implemented.
On the 19th of December 2013 NMA started a nationwide strike. Now what is skipping? Is the accusation by NMA tenable in the Light of truth? NMA went further to say that JOHESU members are more favoured in the health sector to their detriment, is this true? In line with the Nigerian Scheme of Service for one to be eligible for appointment you must have requisite qualification as exemplified in the Scheme of Service. The Scheme of service for all JOHESU Members provide that after level 10 you move to level 12 there is no level 11.It should be noted that Under General Olusegun Obasanjo the Federal Government had placed all Nigerian Worker under one salary structure but Medical Doctors said no way and agitated for COMESS structure for themselves. Under the late President Musa Yaradua, they had their way after negotiating with the Government, they through the principle of collective bargaining accepted COMESS Structure. Members of JOHESU also negotiated and got CONHESS structure for them -selves.
Latter NMA in her usual bid started the PULL HIM DOWN (PHD) campaign of calumny against JOHESU and her members. They accused JOHESU and her members of SKIPPING when in the actual sense there was nothing like that. NMA in a bid to strangulate the health sector threatened all Chief executives of Government Hospitals; this made them in their Committee of C.M.D and MD to take a decision on the matter. Government was coerced to bring out a circular stopping, JOHESU members from Moving from level 10 to level 12 as stipulated in the Scheme of Service.
JOHESU challenged the action of the Government in Court and the Court ruled in favour of JOHESU that the circular stopping JOHESU members from moving from level 10 to level 12 is a nullity and issues of collective bargaining is a right and not a privilege. Since the judgment, NMA and her members have been threatening sulphur and brimstone. In fact Some members of NMA under Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria have gone to court challenging the Court Judgment that they were not part ab-nitio. They are accusing the Court/Government that they were not consulted before such salary was approved For JOHESU members. NMA and her members have forgotten that one denominator common to her and JOHESU members is that they all are employees of the Government that all have the power of collective bargaining.
It should be noted that before 1985 Pharmacist, Doctors and Medical Laboratory Scientist etc were on the same grade level with different steps. Today an Intern Doctor who is a house officers starts on level 10, note after his Youth service he starts on level 12. A baby Physician starts on level 12 as full time employment. If he is able to acquire the postgraduate diploma of any Post Graduate College within the next 3- 5 years he moves to level 15.Note that all these while he is on full pay by the Government. What it means is that within the next 5-10 years that a doctor starts work if he has a postgraduate diploma in Medicine he can get to the zenith of his carrier within that short time. Within the next few years at least five years after, he can even become an MD. While it will take other health workers from the time he starts work to become a principal, 6-9 years to become a level 12 officer. It will take him at least 24 years to get to the Zenith of his carrier. If you adopt NMA prayer for JOHESU members it will take you about 27 years to get to the zenth of your carrier. What this means is that for any JOHESU member who has put in at least 10-15 years in service. A baby Doctor who starts work today in the next few years will overtake him despite his years of service. The big question is who is then disadvantaged in the health sector?
From the foregoing certain questions arise, Is JOHESU members really skipping? The truth of the matter is that the use of the word skipping is a misnomer the movement from 10-12 is not skipping because that is what is provided in the scheme of service. Skipping is when you move from 8-10 without passing through 9 that is provided for in the Scheme. Doctors move from 10-12 why have they not called that skipping? It is not called skipping because that is what is provided for in their scheme of Service. So is the movement of JOHESU members from 10-12.
The action of NMA and her members to down tools because of Court Judgment in favour of JOHESU shows how lawless NMA can be. It shows that they are not interested in promoting Government Goals and interest of the Patient which they swore an oath to protect. The action of NMA is in contempt against NIC judgment. This is blackmail against the Nigerian state. Again NMA cannot resort to self help on a matter that her members have already instituted a court case on. In the words of Niki Tobi JCA (as he then was) ‘When a party has put himself under the umbrella of a Court of Competent Jurisdiction even if it takes time to hear the case or to decide the matter, the parties involved cannot resort to self help, they must not jump the gun, they must wait until the case is decided’ As such the action of NMA and her members is ultra-vires.
Furthermore, in line with the trade unions Act any union that is not registered as a trade union is illegal. NMA is not a registered trade union as such it is illegal for them to have gone on strike. It is gross misconduct for them to have abandoned their duty post. The erudite Journalist Fejiro Oliver, was absolutely right when he tagged his article -‘NMA JEALOUSY STRIKE’, this strike was uncalled for. The Health Ministry/Minister must be firm to tell NMA that their actions are illegal and that it is a violation of the Public Service Rule. NMA should be told the truth that their action is brazen lawless against the Nigerian State and the Nigerian People, because their action is a violation of labour laws. Nigerian masses must say no this unfortunate action. NMA is turning the health sector towards the line of destruction. All Nigerian masses must rise to this injustice against the state. Allopathic medical Imperialism must be defeated .Dr Osahaon Enabulele must be called to order and the Nigerian Government must be firm to stop this impunity against the state. The action of NMA is highly prejudicial which a violation of the code of conduct is for public officer as stipulated in the 1999 constitution as amended. The Nigerian Government must act now before this hydra – headed monster of impunity against the state goes of hand. NMA should stop being an enemy of progress. We must join hands with the likes of the Comrade Governor his Excellency
Comrade Adams Oshiomole the Executive Governor of Edo State to condemn NMA for their unethical action against the state.
Ajufo,B C Is A Medical Laboratory Scientist/Expert on Holistic Medical System
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