The Osun State Government on Thursday debunked claims by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) that the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola administration is not sensitive to the welfare of workers, arguing that the leadership of the organisation was not obejective in its assertions.
The Osun State NMA had on Thursday staged a peaceful protest in the state capital, Osogbo, alleging non-payment of salary arrears and poor healthcare facilities in the state, with the Chairman, Dr Tokunbo Olajumoke, saying the state government owed medical doctors in the state two years arrears of modulated salaries. The chairman also kicked against alleged heavy taxes imposed on the doctors despite the fact that they are not being well paid.
The protest took the doctors from the NMA state secretariat along Gbongan/Ibadan road to the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, via the Ogo-Oluwa/Olaiya route, carrying banners and placards with various inscriptions to press home their demands.
A statement by the Director Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Alhaji Semiu Okanlawon, said, “The government of the State of Osun is aware of the claims by the Nigerian Medical Association today over issues of welfare where its leadership has accused the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration of insensitivity to their welfare.
“This is far from the truth. This government has engaged the doctors, perhaps, more than any other category of workers in the state, on the need to equally be sensitive to the hardship foisted on the finances of the state especially since Nigeria as a whole entered into its trying period of economic recession.
“The Osun government has developed perhaps the most ingenious formula for satisfying the needs of its workforce within the limit of the available resources.
“This was what necessitated the setting up of a revenue apportionment committee led by no less personality than a former number labour leader in Nigeria and veteran labour activists on the continent of Africa, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu.
“On the state of the health facilities, the doctors must be fair enough to admit that the health sector of Osun has witnessed a huge improvement since the coming of this administration.
“Apart from the huge investment of about N1.8bn for the upgrading of the state General Hospitals, this administration has ensured that health care safety and emergency measures are improved as with the provision of the state-of-the-art ambulances across the length and breath of this state.
“As a professional body whose duty it is to safe lives, we expect and continue to implore the doctors to see themselves as partners with the government in the overall task of ensuring the sanctity of lives which the doctors also swore an oath to protect.
“We hereby wish to reiterate for the umpteenth time, that the Rauf Aregbesola administration remian s a labour-friendly one and we have always called on all groups, including the NMA to be sensitive to the prevailing economic situation across the land while the government continues its relentless efforts to make the best of the situation we have found ourselves as a country.”