By R.A. Ipinyomi
There are times when industrial strikes can be counterproductive or change the entire equation. This is happening in the health sector between the Nigerian federal government and striking doctors. The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has resolved to continue with its ongoing nationwide strike action, until more concrete efforts are made by the Federal Government of Nigeria to meet the association’s minimum demands. The Minister of Health has felt disappointed by the ongoing nationwide strike by the resident doctors and fruitless efforts by stakeholders to end the industrial action that has resulted in deaths in hospitals and homes. Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu believes the government has a point in calling for a debate the government and the NMA. What point does a government that treats issues piecemeal have?
We had very similar scenarios in the universities where ASUU and NASU have separated their issues and believing that they could confront government individually. If NASU could achieve what the paramedics have achieved in the medical sector, very soon heads of departments and deans of faculties may no longer be the exclusively preserved from lecturers if Chief Technologists or the Registrars in the Faculties are more senior in their units. Too many strikes and uncoordinated have been only counterproductive and resulting in abnormal results. We are certainly in regimes where leadership lacks both professionalism and adequate experience of his office. Even at the national level many of the ills facing the nation could have been prevented if only the officers were more professional, experienced, diplomatic and highly competent.
The way out for NMA is in their accepting the new reality and picking the pieces from there. We need a Medicare system that works and not always held in ransomed. We need a system where workers have good pay, receiving continuous training and eventually going out on a good retirement plan that works. We also need a government that is holistic it her approach to issues concerning the entire system and not one dancing to sector demands always. The prevailing situation is that ASUP, NASU, ASUU or others are individually on strike and there is no time a particular union is not on industrial strike in Nigeria. This is quite unhealthy for the national economy and the individual institutions. It is always easy for government to renege on its commitments and agreements when they are made privately between government and individual unions. We must negotiate collectively.
Our appeal to NMA is similar to our appeal to Boko Haram taking th entire nation hostage. When our health sector is held hostage by matured individuals like enlightened medical colleagues for whatever reasons the effects could be worse than Boko Haram killing 10,000 people in five years. When the Nigeria Union of Teachers is on strike, as they are in many states of the federation right now, the effect is similar to Boko Haram refusing to let our children go to school. Nothing is in isolation in the new global world. If we want to condemn one set of ills we must condemn all others of similar effects. Worse still, at the end of each strike, payments are made to workers who went out on the strike and for work never done.
Our moral high ground must be raised high than that of the lawmakers who see nothing wrong in paying themselves monthly wardrobe allowances that are mouth watering. It is evil and the result can be seen in the unrest and insecurity in our society. No Nigeria senator ought to earn more than the approved salary of a Nigerian professor in a federal university. The security challenges in our nation are the result of extraordinary salaries take by political leaders. They put additional strain on scarce financial resources.Government should be careful not to disturb the equilibrium in the system.
Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi via email@example.com