EKITI STATE DOCTORS’ STRIKE: GOVERNMENT STATES POSITION

Ekiti State Government today responded to the ongoing doctor’s strike in the state. The state’s position was contained in a statement released by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Values orientation, Aare Muyiwa Olumilua. Tracing the genesis of the crisis, the commissioner blamed the global pandemic which led to poor finances, thus preventing the state from meeting most responsibilities and the fact that some of the reasons for the strike was already a matter before the court. The full statement below :

Thursday July 30th, 2020
1. Our attention has been drawn to the news reports of a press conference
held in Ado Ekiti by some striking members of Ekiti State Branch of the
National Association of Government General Medical and Dental
Practitioners (NAGGMDP). It is unfortunate that despite the numerous
efforts of the State Government to support the Health Sector, especially
during this pandemic and its attendant economic effects, the members of
this Association have insisted on the strike action.
2. NAGGMDP approached Government with a list of requests on the welfare
of its members. The leadership and that of the parent Nigeria Medical
Association (NMA) were promptly invited to more than seven (7)meetings
between June 11 and July 8, 2020 for constructive engagement with the
Secretary to the State Government, Head of Service, Hon Commissioner
for Health, Permanent Secretaries in the Health Sector, Hon
Commissioner for Finance, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance,
Permanent Secretary, Office of Establishments and Service Matters, the
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Labour Matters, the State
Accountant-General and other top officers of government in attendance.
3. Government empathised with the concerns of the association but
explained that the State could not meet all their demands especially due
to the global economic challenges occasioned by the ongoing pandemic
and dwindling monthly federal allocation and low IGR. The statements of
income and expenditure of State since the outbreak of the COVID 19
Pandemic were made available to the Association as proof of the State’s
financial position.
4. While most of the association’s demands were not peculiar to them alone,
they emphasised the implementation of the “SKIPPING” in their salary
scale; that means Medical Officers will commence their career in the civil
service on GL 13 instead of the current GL 12 while Consultants will be
appointed on GL 16 instead of the current GL 15, as approved by the
National Council on Establishments (NCE).

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5. This “SKIPPING” issue is currently being reviewed by the NCE because
of its far-reaching implications on other cadres in public service. In fact, it
is a subject of litigation at the federal level and an appeal filed by the
Federal Ministry of Health is yet to be determined so NO STATE
GOVERNMENT has implemented the skipping adjustment till date.
Besides, it goes against the principle of natural justice to enter into
agreements with the FG in a Federation without inputs from states and
expect such agreement to be binding on states.
6. Government had proposed a phased implementation of some of the
demands to enable it meet other obligations like salaries, but the
association has refused to be flexible. This administration under the
leadership of His Excellency, Governor Kayode Fayemi has a
responsibility of care to all Ekiti people, both civil servants and private
individuals. It must therefore manage the state’s limited resources
judiciously for the benefit of all.
7. Formal and informal steps have been taken to appeal to the striking
doctors to call off the strike, including the intervention of well-respected
citizens of Ekiti, but the doctors have remained adamant. It is necessary
to note that all the other unions in the Health Sector who are similarly
affected by some of the same requests, met with Government and after
reviewing the state finances, were considerate and humane enough to
call off their strike action and are now at their duty posts, providing
lifesaving services to Ekiti people.
8. The timing of this strike action, in the middle of a global public health
crisis when the citizens need their services the most, borders on
insensitivity. Government calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to appeal
to the striking doctors not to allow themselves to be pawns in the hands of
political detractors. The administration of Governor Kayode Fayemi is
committed to improving the conditions of service of all public servants in
Ekiti State, the doctors inclusive.
9. A lot of intervention is on-going in the health sector; some of which
include
a. Fifteen (15) Primary and Secondary Health facilities undergoing
renovations as well as provision of PPEs and medical equipment
with the support of the Ekiti State COVID-19 Response Resource
Mobilisation Committee (RRMC)
b. Ongoing process to access the Healthcare Support Fund from the
CBN to equip more health facilities so that our health workers can
practise in more conducive environments

c. Mr Governor approved the payment of the monthly hazard
allowance to health workers as part of efforts to appreciate their
dedication and hard work.
d. The Ekiti State Health Insurance Scheme has been launched to
adequately fund service delivery in healthcare so our people can
access quality service at affordable rates.
All these and many more initiatives are part of Governor Kayode
Fayemi’s visionary programmes to uplift healthcare delivery in
Ekiti State and our health workers are at the very centre of these
interventions.
10. It is widely acknowledged that most developing nations and sub-
nationals are experiencing the shortage of doctors in the health sector,
including Ekiti State. It is however important to clarify that there are
adequate doctors in both public and private sectors in Ekiti State to meet
the healthcare needs of its residents. We are working to improve our
patient-doctor ratio as well as to ensure affordable healthcare in every
part of Ekiti State but, the impression that Ekiti State residents might
need to go out of state to access healthcare is not accurate. There are over
300 doctors in the service of Ekiti State Government and more than 700
doctors cumulatively in the state.
11. Once again, Government appeals to the striking doctors under the
aegis of NAGGMDP to reconsider their position and return to their duty
post immediately. Continuing with this ill-timed strike action will only
put the lives of Ekiti residents at more risk during this COVID-19
pandemic .
Signed
For: Ekiti State Government
Aare Muyiwa Olumilua
Commissioner for Information & Values Orientation

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