In an unprecedented show of solidarity to the plight of its members, the Kogi State branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has threatened to shut down the healthcare delivery system in the State following failure of government to pay outstanding salaries.
This decisive action is coming barely one week after the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State said it had redeemed its pledge to pay civil servants their backlogs of salaries.
In a landmark attempt to address the pitiable plight of doctors in the State, NMA has threatened to embark on an indefinite strike in January if the State Government fails to pay outstanding salaries to all doctors working within its jurisdiction. A sound note of warning was also issued to the management of the only federal tertiary hospital in the State, FMC-Lokoja, whose doctors fall under the umbrella of NMA.
NMA’s warning was contained in a communique of its Emergency Congress held in Lokoja on Christmas eve.
The communique, signed by the Chairman and Secretary, Dr. Magnus Ogaraku and Dr. Zubair Kabiru, gave the State Government a 21-day ultimatum to meet her demands or they will be left with no other option than to ask all their members in health institutions in the State, including private hospitals to proceed on an indefinite strike action from 13th January, 2017.
The communique accused the Governor of not paying 10 medical officers employed on 13th October, 2015 to the State University Teaching Hospital (KSUTH), Anyigba, while their counterparts in the Ministry of Justice and Kogi State Specialist Hospital are receiving regular salaries.
The congress also observed the non-payment of five consultants in KSUTH, Anyigba since 2015; the non-payment of four chief medical officers, two senior medical officers, and a consultant working with the Kogi State Hospital Management Board (HMB) and one medical officer working with the state Ministry of Health.
The Congress noted the gross underpayment and illegal deductions from the salaries of some medical officers working with the Kogi State government.
The Congress condemned the premature, selective and illegal application of ‘No Work No Pay’ rule to members of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Medical Center, Lokoja, in less than 49 days of commencement of strike action.
“This contravenes the labour law, which states that such actions shall be applied only if the strike(s) exceeds 100 days,” the communique noted.
The congress also took note of the obnoxious, inhumane, forceful and wicked imposition of levies, taxes, rates, rents, duties on registered private hospitals in Kogi State, while refusing to empower the office of the Director of Medical Services (DMS) and NMA monitoring committee with utility vehicles and law enforcement agents to fight quackery, thereby stifling legitimate and law abiding citizens, but encouraging quackery to thrive in Kogi State.
The Congress further resolved that, “All doctors working with the Kogi State government who have not been paid their salaries up to date should be paid within the next 21 days. Underpayments, illegal deduction from the salaries of these doctors should be corrected and refunded within 21 days.
The Congress directed the management of Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja to revert the ‘No work No Pay’ rule and pay the affected resident doctors within 21 days.
NMA called for harmonization of taxes to avoid multiple taxation as is practiced in other states. The constant intimidation and harassment of registered private hospitals and clinics must be stopped forthwith until harmonization is done.
Failure of the Kogi State government and the management of FMC, Lokoja to comply with these resolutions, the NMA will be left with no option than to ask her members in all health institutions in Kogi State including private hospitals to proceed on an indefinite strike action from 12:00 midnight of 13th January, 2017.