6MAY 2017

We are not at war with NMA - Fanwo

The Director General on Media and Strategy to the Kogi State Governor, Kingsley Fanwo has told that the State Government is not at war with the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association, saying government will explore peaceful means of ensuring industrial relations between it and health sector workers.

In an exclusive chat with the official website of Kogi State, Fanwo said the State Government has made its position known through a circular issued by the Acting Head of Service of the State, Mrs H.O.K. Lawal. He said government will ensure peaceful resolution of the dispute to ensure patients are not exposed to neglect.

"The medical profession must not lose its humanitarian heart. Healthcare issues are about life and government will never trivialize issues affecting the healthcare sector. Rather than abandon patients on the sick bed, NMA should choose the path of negotiations to resolve the issues they have raised about the screening exercise and the effects on their members. We are prepared to care for those who care for the sick. Doctors' welfare is critical to achieving our goals in healthcare delivery.

"It is high time government changed tactics. The siege must stop and we must begin to pull towards the same direction to rebuild our collapsed system. Government is concerned that staff of tertiary institutions are yet to call off their strike despite the concessions made by government. We urge all the unions to trust the government and go back to work.

"Strike must be seen as a last resort when all peaceful avenues are not yielding fruits. The Governor is prepared to listen to all grievances and give truthful positions. This quality should be explored by patriotic unionists who dream of a better and a more prosperous Kogi State. It will be unfair to the people of Kogi State to hide behind the transparent curtains of political interest to subvert the interest and welfare of the Kogi people.

"Doctors are trained to save lives. They have been very cooperative and we will want them to keep cooperating with government. We know they won't be happy to watch the sick die on account of pursuing an interest, that though genuine,  could be resolved around the table. I was shocked when the media said we 'threatened' Doctors with 'no work, no pay' policy. We didn't threaten them and will never threaten them. They have never said they wanted to be paid for job not done. They are honourable men and women that we respect tremendously.

"Government position on the strike remains the same. Government is prepared to listen and negotiate. But the public will tell us if we can use their taxes to pay those who leave the sick unattended. We want to know the justice and fairness in paying people who do not work. We want to continue to pay our doctors and that is why we are appealing to them to go back to work and give government the benefit of the doubt to address their grievances".

When asked about the next line of action by government on the refusal of tertiary institutions staff to call off their strike, Fanwo said the Governing Councils of the various institutions will deal with the issues.

"Government has done its part by constituting the Governing Councils of the tertiary institutions. They will take decisive steps to stop the subvention of the educational interest of the Kogi people and return our dear students to the classrooms. We urge the tertiary institutions staff to return to the campuses and save the future of our students. Government has done enough to win their confidence", he said.