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Aregbesola pleads as Osun doctors issue 21-day ultimatum over unpaid salaries

Apparently disturbed by  the 21-day ultimatum issued by Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Osun State chapter,  the state government led by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Monday appealed to the medical body over non-payment of salary arrears owed its members in the state.

The Aregbesola-led government made the appeal on Monday immediately the medical doctors in the state resolved to go on a full scale strike if the governor fails to meet their demands within 21 days.

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The position of the association was made known to journalists during a press conference which held at the NMA secretariat in Osogbo on Monday.

According to the Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Osun State,  Dr. Tokunbo Olajumoke, the resolution was reached at the Emergency General Meeting of the body, that all the doctors in the state would join the strike at the expiration of the ultimatum.

The NMA Chairman read a statement jointly signed by him and the Secretary of the association, Dr Olalekan Ajayi in which the body enumerated its demands.

The association complained over lack of drugs and consumables in our health facilities and lack of basic amenities and equipments in the hospitals in the state as well as the non-payment of salaries of doctors and urged the state government to address the issues without further delay.

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According to him, “following over two years of appeals, engagements and discussions with the state government on the decadence in the health sector in Osun state, the association hereby gives a twenty one(21) day ultimatum from today August 28 to September 17, 2017.”

“At the expiration of the ultimatum, the association will be left with no other choice than to immediately withdraw our services in the state.”

NMA called on traditional rulers, members of the National Assembly and the Osun State House of Assembly and other stakeholders to prevail on the State Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola to do the needful so as to save the health sector in the state from further collapse.

According to the NMA chairman, “the demeaning level of care being melted upon medical practitioners by the state government is best described as a vicious cycle of poor remuneration with consequent unsatisfactory career, flight of already scarce medical practitioners and then a subsequent pseudo-employment that does not last for a reasonable time.”

“Expectedly, in view of the neglect in the sector, there has been an untoward effect on the good people of the state as evidenced by the increasing mortality and morbidity indices of the state.”

“Despite accessing various funds, including the monthly allocations, ecological funds, project repayment funds (largely undisclosed), 11.74billion naira and 6.314 billion naira as her own share of the first and second tranche of the Paris club refund respectively, the state  government has continued to pay our members varying percentages of  their emoluments, in the range of  less than 30% in the last 24 months as against what is stipulated by the wages and salaries commission of our dear Nation.”

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“The state government, despite agreement to the contrary has also continued to withhold between 4 and 6 months salaries of our members during the period of industrial action embarked upon by some of our affiliates when the state government unilaterally slashed their salaries without any form of discussion.”

“The state government has also continued the issuance of payslips not in tandem with the salary received in the last two years. This has led to inability of members to fulfil their obligations to cooperatives and banks with regrettable implications on individuals.”

“Osun state is the only state that has continued to pay her doctors ‘fractionated’ salaries, deduct full taxes while paying ‘fractionated’ salaries with issuance of non complimentary payslip.”

“Despite these harsh and unfavourable conditions, the state doctors have continued to render health care services to the good people of Osun state.”

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the governor, the Osun Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Adelani Baderinwa in a press statement said frantic efforts were already on to resolve all the issues raised by the doctors in their demands.

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According to the statement, “Osun State government has been notified on the 21-day ultimatum given to it by doctors in the state under the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).

“The government wishes to state that we will address the issues raised by the doctors and plead with them to understand the plight of the state government.

It is on record that doctors in Osun are perhaps the highest paid in the South-West states after Lagos and did everything to ensure the standard was maintained for as long as the finances of government were in good shape.”

This illustrates that the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is very sensitive to health matters and would always treat the health workers very well, if not specially. Issues bothering on full payment of their salary should not degenerate to the level of downsizing because it has been demonstrated that other workers of the state who were being paid modulated salary would sure get their arrears when the state finances improve.”

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