DEPUTY President of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm Olumide Akintayo does not mince words when it comes to issues of professional relevance as they concern the nationâ€™s health industry.Â In this interview with Olayinka Latona, he gives the position of the PSN on the fortunes of the sector, with regards to the strike threat by doctors. Excerpts.
Cycle of strikes
â€œI am not a doctor so I am not in a vantage position to actually narrate what has informed another strike action by medical doctors, but what I will posit on behalf of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) is that we have prophesied and predicted that there will be an unending strike, because we have always warnedÂ government about what we have called the vicious cycle of industrial actions as a direct consequence of the philosophy of discriminating salary wages in any sector.
This salary discrimination actually started in 1991 when government approved medical salary scale at the Federal Executive Council meeting.
I can tell you with all facts at my disposal that since that 1991 Nigeria organised labour has not being at equilibrium since that day. The reality of it today is that every different category of workers wants exclusive salary wages and that is why teachers, ASUU members want separate salary scale for university lectures and the agitations has been un-ended. But you can not blame any these workers because every worker wanst reward for labour and we all go to the same market without the respect of whatever calling you find yourself. But we have always advised government that this philosophy towards exclusive salary wages for some vantage people will always bringÂ problems.
We have always taken a stand in the PSN that it amounts to some level of irresponsibility to continue to employ the strike option as the only basis to negotiate with government. Although government will always have its faults, at least when you make promises you never fulfill them it is an act of irresponsibility.
But I want to say that the PSN stands for excellence at all times.
I must say government has encouraged doctorâ€™s to oppress every other category of workers in this country. The reason being that what doctors did in this country in 1991 in conjunction with the late Prof. Olikoye ransome-Kuti was such that the most junior doctor that is a house doctor is put on a salary scale such that the salary is higher than any other civil servant including a Director in public service who would have put in 30 years. Yet they say it is not enough.
Today it is a reality that medical doctors start on level 12 post youth service while other university graduates start on level 8 and it would take almost 10 years for any of other people to get to level 12 where doctors start from and yet they are not satisfied.
They keep asking for more and the mostÂ unfortunate part of it is that when they negotiate for more and they get it, they now dictate to government that other healthcare providers or indeed other workers must not be paid more than them.
We are all Nigerians and at all times we need to uphold the equalisation principle enthrenched in the 1999 Federal Constitution. The provision of that constitution guarantees at all times equality to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe or religion.Â So all these agitations will collapse and it will not work.