Chief John OKIYI Kalu, Director of Strategic Engagement, Abia State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council, yesterday, called on the people of the state to demand a factual response from the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) on the lingering dispute between doctors and the state government.
Okiyi-Kalu, who was speaking on the demand by doctors under the Hospital Management Board (HMB) to be paid 13 months arrears and equally the demand of doctors working with Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) for 22 months arrears, said that facts have shown that since the inception of the Ikpeazu’s administration in 2015, the medical doctors have been on strike for 35 months.
He questioned the moral right the doctors have to demand such payments when facts and figures at the disposal of the government which, according to him, were listed undisputably by the state Commissioner for Information, Eze Chikamnayo, show that they do not merit what they are demanding.
The PDP Director urged the Abia people to eschew all forms of political gimmicks and question some abnormalities in the Abia health sector causing the conflict stressing that every conflict should end in permanent solutions to society’s challenges including the ongoing one between Abia Government and NMA.
“Naturally, because of the important role played by medical doctors in the health management chain, it is expected that popular sentiments will be in support of the striking doctors and weighed against the government more so when arrowheads of the strike timed it to coincide with the forthcoming general elections that some desperate opposition politicians are ready to attempt to win by hook or crook”, he said.
“But the question to ask is if those medical doctors actually worked for the months of arrears they are demanding payment for or should pay the government and people of Abia State for receiving more salary than they have worked for.”
Okiyi-Kalu said that the root of the current wage management challenge in HMB and ABSUTH is traceable to 2015 he witnessed a meeting between Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who was new in office and management and union leaders from ABSUTH at the government house in Umuahia.
According to him, the meeting was called to stave off a planned strike action by the doctors and the crux of their presentation to the Governor was simply that he pays off the arrears of salary owed them and they will from thenceforth make revenue to fund their regular salary payment.
Okiyi-Kalu said that they also requested support with more modern equipment for their operations and later in the life of the administration asked for ABSUTH road to be fixed, which according to him were all granted by the governor.
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