Interview: Uduaghan Speaks On NMA Strike


Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan

Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan

Delta state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, a medical doctor of rare repute has served as a Commissioner for Health and helped in setting enviable standards in the health sector with laudable and yielding policies. In this interview, he speaks on the current industrial strike embarked upon by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).

Read Excerpts By Blank NEWS Online:

GOVERNOR:

Well if you recall the doctors have given warning strike sometime in December, they were to go on another strike early January but we had to intervene at that point some agreements were reached with the Federal government. I understand that some of those agreements that were reached have not been fulfilled and that was one of the reasons they had to go on strike that started on the 1st of July. As soon as I heard it on that 1st of July I had to get to Abuja and put together a team of what I will call some of us who are elders in the profession. I called the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; Dr. Doyin Okupe who is a special adviser to the president on Public Communications; these are all medical doctors. Yesterday (Thursday) we first held a meeting with the Government team led by the Secretary to the Government of the federation, Senator Anyim Pius Ayim; Minister for Health, Minister of State for Health and of course Minister for Labor, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health and we didn’t quite get the Head of Service. So we held a special meeting with them and discussed the major issues then we now brought out the officials of the Nigerian Medical Association. Extensive meetings were held till quite late yesterday. I think reasonably some of the issues have been resolved and hopefully the emergency services should start very soon by God’s grace in the next few days because they still need to meet with the delegates (I think they call it the emergency delegate meeting) in the next few days hopefully.

QUESTION:

Sir if you recall sometime last year or a year before when the medical professionals held their convention here in Asaba, this issue was trashed I mean it was really deliberated on and they agreed that going on strike would do no one any good either the patients and even the doctors and those in the medical profession. So we are all surprised even with all the warnings and promises they still went on to do that even after they reassured the public then that they wouldn’t do that in the nearest future, what is your take on that Sir?

GOVERNOR:

Some of us don’t believe in strike I personally do not believe in strike in achieving whatever I want to achieve. There is no doubt that there are challenges in the health sector especially with the doctors and sometimes some of the attitude of those of us in government and the way we operate can push workers to go on strike. This particular strike really when I heard about it I will say I was taken aback I was surprised because I didn’t know it had gotten to an extent where the officials will go on strike.

As much as possible the medical professionals should be one of the set of workers that should be very wary of strike because for every minute of strike, lives are lost and for lives that are lost you can never get the life back and that is why I had to work with the then NMA president to see how we could talk to ourselves on the issue of strike but then, we had the summit, promises were made but here we are with the strike but I do hope that in the very near future, that because what Mr. President has done as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to put up a committee headed by the former head of service Ahmed Yayale. That Yayale committee is going to provide a platform for all the health practitioners to come together and sort the issues out once and for all.

The challenge we have in the health sector is that we have various stakeholders, various health professionals who seem to be pulling each other and tearing themselves apart but what has happened is that there has not been a platform for all the various arms of the profession to come together and discuss the issues. Now that we have that Yayale, platform I hope that everybody will go there and put on the table what the issues are and with give and take I’m sure they can arrive at amicable resolutions among the health professionals.

QUESTION:

Sir, some people are reading some political meanings into the strike; they believe that it is just one way of attacking the Mr. President to make him look not competent?

GOVERNOR:

Having met with both sides yesterday, I will not read political meaning into it. I didn’t pick up any political undertone to it I just think that they might be some challenges with the management of the issues at one point or the other.

QUESTION:

Is there any word for the people out there because several persons I won’t say lives are lost because we have not heard of any lives lost during these few days but several persons have been going through suffering because of these, so what final words for your people out there Sir?

GOVERNOR:

Well there is no doubt that lives have been lost, which must I say again is very unfortunate. People are suffering which again is very unfortunate. We have appealed with the officials yesterday that they should please call off the strike and hopefully they should be calling of the strike between now and the next few days. And for those who are out there especially the citizens that have been denied of these services I want to, I will say because I’m a medical doctor let me apologize on behalf of the medical profession for the kind of pain that have been caused to the people and to say that they should have hope that we are doing everything possible to make sure that the doctors and in fact the health workers go back to work.

QUESTION:

Your Excellency on what basis are you intervening, as a concerned citizen or as a medical doctor who is a Governor of a State?

GOVERNOR:

I’m intervening on many fronts, I’m intervening as a medical doctor because each time I hear of strike in the medical profession I get very embarrassed. Secondly, I think as a Governor of a State, at least one of the persons who has reach and that is why I used to tell people that, if you have the reach to be able to intervene on any issue just try and do it. So I am also intervening because with my position as a Governor of a State I have some reach to those that are concerned that can resolve the matter.

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