The Kogi Government on Monday confirmed that it was recruiting additional 230 medical doctors, but rejected suggestions that the new officers would replace their 163 colleagues currently on strike.
“Yes, we are recruiting new doctors, but we won’t sack those already in the system just because they are on strike. We have only 163 doctors; that is certainly not enough for Kogi. That is why we are recruiting more hands,” health commissioner Saka Audu told journalists in Lokoja.
Audu said that it was “misleading, mischievous, erroneous and unkind” to suggest that government would sack the medical personnel and replace them with new ones.
“It is not only doctors that are being recruited; we are also engaging pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, health record officers and medical laboratory assistants,” he said.
Audu reaffirmed government’s commitment to continue to negotiate with the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA toward resolving the impasse between the association and the government.
The Kogi chapter of the NMA had accused the Kogi government of taking steps to engage new hands before sacking its members.
NMA, in a statement signed by its Chairman, Dr. Godwin Tijani, alleged that government had concluded plans to recruit a new set of medical doctors to replace those on strike, starting from June 19.
Tijani explained, however, that the NMA was not against the recruitment of doctors.
“We have not advised doctors against taking up jobs with the Kogi government. We have only advised government on the timing of the exercise and the motives, because the recruitment is coming at a time doctors are on strike over salaries and other entitlements. We are only notifying our colleagues to prepare for massive sacrifices,” he said.
He said that the NMA was open to dialogue aimed at solving the current industrial disharmony in the health sector so as to bring succour to the suffering masses.
NMA had on June 5, directed its members to resume the strike they had suspended on May 13, citing government’s failure to fulfill its promises to meet doctors’ demands.