by Lekan Olanrewaju
In the wake of the dismissal of over 700 doctors working for Lagos State for participating in an ongoing strike action, the State government has taken a few steps back, saying that it is willing to negotiate with the workers.
Head of Service, Mr Adesegun Ogunlewe in an address at the ministerial press briefing to commemorate one year in office of Governor Fashola’s current tenure stated that the doctors would have to appeal through their employers.
“A dismissed officer cannot negotiate under the civil service rule.” he said. “The only option open to them is to appeal through their employers, Health Service Commission, HSC, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH and the State governor has the final say.”
“We have had people in the past who were dismissed and that dismiss was presented by their employers that is the Health Service Commission and the Lagos University Teaching Board. There is still room for appeal and that will go as far as the governor. The state government has an important responsibility, which is to provide healthcare for the residents of state. That is the focus of the state government now and sacking the doctors is one aspect of it.”
Commissioner for Health, James Idris, also spoke, explaining the government’s reasons for taking the decision.
“The decision of the state government to sack the 788 doctors was not a palatable one if one considers the history of how the strike started and all the effort the state government made in order to prevent it,” he said, “but the bottom line of this one is that we have people who entered the service under specific rules and regulation. These were people whom when they took their decision, they were warned that the rules and regulation which they signed onto when they were employed by the state government would be referred to.
“According to the law, the state government reserves the right to formulate policies affecting the entire civil servants.” he continued. “And once one allows these rights to hit into the fabric of discipline and the fabric that binds together the civil service, then there would be chaos.
“This decision is not the end to strike in the health sector, everyone has the right to embark on strike while the state government also has the right to decide the policies on certain issues.”
He however assured that the health sector was not crippled, as new doctors were already being deployed.
“As it is now, we still have a thousand of doctors’ still working in the state owned hospitals.” he said. “The new doctors had their orientation programme yesterday and they are currently been deployed to the entire state owned hospitals and there are plans to recruit more doctors to further increase provision of healthcare in the state.”
Commissioner for Information and Strategy Aderemi Ibirogba also echoed this, saying: “We still have 1,059 doctors in our hospitals. Before we sacked 788 doctors, we had 1,474 doctors, but we have already employed 373 new doctors, who have already been screened.”
“If they say that Lagos State is not paying and another is paying, you have the right to leave and go to that state. This is the system we have in place and if you are not okay by the system, go to another system and leave this system for us.”