….You can’t intimidate us, doctors insist
By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—THE face-off between doctors in Edo State and the state government, deepened, weekend, following the threat by the state government to sack any doctor under its employ, who failed to resume work today.
But in a swift reaction, the state chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Dr. Philip Ugbodaga, described the threat as “provocative,” saying that “no doctor was summarily employed by the state government, so no doctor can be summarily dismissed by Edo State government and we cannot be intimidated.”
It will be recalled that doctors in the state embarked on indefinite strike action to press for the release of the former Chief Medical Director of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Prof. Eugene Okpere, who was kidnapped penultimate week.
Since then, the doctors extended the strike to protest what they described as incessant kidnapping of doctors in the state and general insecurity. But breaking its silence, weekend, on the ongoing strike, which it condemned and described as unacceptable, the state government, through a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr Pally Iriase, said “from reports collated so far, many innocent persons have died as a result of the strike/industrial action.
Government is aware of the cause of the strike but notes the inhumanity of the frequent recourse to strike at the flimsiest of excuses by doctors, whose duty it is to save lives.
“The excuse of the doctors for embarking on the latest strike is untenable and unacceptable as the state of insecurity pervades the whole nation and not limited to Edo State only.”
Dr Ugbodaga, who, however, said that the striking doctors would not be intimidated, added that the NMA would meet to discuss the recent threat from government, adding, “what we are doing is in the overall interest of the government of the state, because it cannot pursue its developmental agenda if the people are in an atmosphere of insecurity.”
“And the strike will continue until we meet and decide what to do. We have told them to bring in the military the way they did in Abia and also call a security confab where all the stakeholders will discuss the problem and fine solution” he stated.