Lagos doctors skeptical about suspension of their dismissal

The reinstated doctors in Lagos State hospitals have expressed serious concerns over the manner they were recalled by the state government, saying the decision may turn out to be a hoax.

The doctors told journalist at a press conference in Lagos on Friday that they “were taken aback” by the sudden change of heart by the state government, which did not deem it necessary to communicate to them about their decision to reinstate them as required by the civil service rules.

Following the intervention of the former governor of the state, Bola Tinubu, the Lagos state government on Thursday announced it had “suspended” the sack of the 788 doctors dismissed in controversial circumstances earlier this month.

“We must express concern that government has only indicated a suspension of the dismissals,” said Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State chapter, Edamisan Temiye. “This creates the unfortunate impression that the government is merely bidding for time and hoping to gain immediate public sympathy before such a time in the future that it can give effect to the dismissals. 

“Since government has indicated that it was responding to the intervention of the stakeholders who made unambiguous calls for the full reinstatement of the doctors, we believe that it ought to have made it clear that the reinstatement is complete and would be without any reprisals,” he added.

While thanking civil society groups, lawmakers, and notable elders, specifically Tunji Braithwaite and Femi Falana for the roles they played, the doctors expressed their readiness to go back to work “as soon as the right thing is done”.

“We request that the government sends letters of recall or reinstatement to all the doctors who were issued separate and individual letters of dismissal,” Mr. Temiye said.

The doctors, who wore black arm bands during the briefing as a sign of mourning for the patients who lost their lives during the one month-old strike, further stated that they would not accept any punitive measure against any of them for the roles they played during the dispute. 

Throwing his weight behind Mr. Temiye, the Chairman of the Medical Guild, the umbrella body of doctors under the employment of Lagos state, Olumuyiwa Odusote, said that the recall must be “finalized” as soon as possible to enable their members return to work.

“We think that the manner of recall is very questionable,” said Mr. Odusote. “If for any reason the government brings us back to this same situation, the reaction will be worse and even more spontaneous than now.” 

The doctors, who will be meeting with the state government later today, also said they would ask what the state means by asking the doctors to go back to “regularize their status”.

“We don’t even have the means to even ‘regularize’ as it is,” said Mr. Odusote. “As soon as we get that, we are going to start the process of going back to work.”

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