By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Ola Ajayi, Dayo Johnson Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
Hundreds of doctors, yesterday, took to major streets in Lagos, Ibadan, Akure in Ondo State, to protest against the purported sack of 16,000 resident doctors.
In Lagos, the doctors staged a peaceful march around the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, in their white laboratory coats as they handed a letter of outright rejection of the sack of 16,000 resident doctors to the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Professor Akin Osibogun for onward delivery to President Goodluck Jonathan and the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu.
The doctors, who claimed that the protest was part of the efforts to register their displeasure and also make the government to reverse the sack, were carrying placards with inscriptions such as: Chukwu must go, Das All,’
‘No more overseas checkup with tax payers’ money,’ ‘We say no to Chukwu and Jonathan,’ ‘Sack of 16,000 resident doctors, death sentence for Nigerians!’ ‘Sack Ebola, not Doctors,’ ‘Sack Boko Haram not Doctors’, ‘Sack Chukwu not Doctors” and ‘No to casualisation of doctors,’ among others.
Taking turns to address the gathering, the protesting doctors declared that the sack of 16,000 doctors were not acceptable to them.
According to them, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, as at this year registered 26,000 medical doctors and if 16,000 are sacked only 10,000 will be serving 170 million Nigerians.
Addressing the protesters which include medical students and friends of the doctors, State Chairman of the association, Dr. Tope Ojo, who addressed journalist at the premises of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, said that the sack of resident doctors in all Federal Teaching Hospitals in the country would lead to imminent collapse of the health sector.
In Ibadan, the doctors started the protest around 12noon from the association’s office at Total Garden and passed through the main entrance of the University College Hospital, Ibadan where the State NMA Chairman, Dr. Muideen Babatunde Olatunji and the National Association of Resident Doctors, UCH chapter, Dr. Franklin Anor addressed newsmen.
The doctors dressed in their laboratory coats displayed placards with various inscriptions such as “Sack Ebola, not doctors”, “No, to oppression of doctors”, “Is this our reward for saving lives?”
In Akure, led by the Chairman of the association in the state, Dr. Bamidele Betiku, they said the decision of the Federal Government would make the country lack specialised doctors and make adequate health care delivery elusive to the masses.
The protesting doctors matched from their office on Igbatoro road to the governor’s office in Alagbaka, Akure singing solidarity songs
Some of the placards displayed read “Sack Onyibuchi now”, “Nigerian Doctors Say No to Exploitation”, “ MOH, Why Kill Residency Training”.
The Chairman said the doctors were protesting to make government correct the mistake of sacking the resident doctors across the country.
Meanwhile, NLC in a statement by its President, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar, said “The recent mass dismissal of resident medical doctors in federal hospitals across the country by the Federal Government is ill-advised, and therefore should be re-considered and reversed given prevailing health challenges.
Similarly, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, implored the Federal Government to reverse its decision to sack the striking doctors, warning that the nation could not afford any calamity such sack might cause.
Bobboi Kaigama and Musa Lawal, respectively, said “while we understand the plight of the Government in having to simultaneously contain both the threat of Boko Haram to national security and the challenge of the ebola disease, we consider it very precarious for it to insist on sacking the doctors at this time. On the other hand, we charge all the doctors to listen to the voice of reason and the cries of Nigerians and end (or at least suspend) the strike and return to work, if only to resolve the ebola mystery on our hands. Even enemies strike a truce and unite when faced by a more dangerous mutual adversary.”