Lagos govt, striking doctors have resolved major issues ― Sanwo-Olu

• Strike occasioned by inadequate communication, misunderstanding, he says

Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday said his government and striking doctors in the state have resolved the major issue that led to the strike, saying it was all due to inadequate communication and misunderstanding.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, who described the situation as unfortunate, disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba where he commemorated the Year 2020 Tree Planting Day and commissioned a 36-chamber morgue donated by IHS Towers to the state government.

According to the governor, the major issue at stake was the yet- to- be- paid May and June additional COVID-19 allowance which has now been paid, adding that the allowance was his initiative “because we wanted to show leadership at the outbreak of the pandemic.”

The governor explained that the delay occurred because the government had to do enumeration to ensure that only those that were qualified received it.

He, however, explained that the COVID-19 additional allowance was different from hazard allowance that the government had earlier increased by 400 per cent which is for all health workers, asserting that it was for only frontline workers at the isolation centres, but quickly noted that it became an all-comers affair and was becoming a drain on the state’s purse, hence the enumeration.

“The enumeration was to ensure that only those entitled to it, that is those working in Isolation centres and not all medical staff in the state hospitals and health centres, receive the allowance,” he said.

The governor, who said he was not upset about the doctors to strike because it was due to inadequate communication and because as a father he must attend to the needs of all his children, however, said the strike was opportunistic because of the circumstances of the time.

“It is rather unfortunate that my workers whom I love so dearly would take this very unexpected line to appeal their grievances.

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“It is rather unfair and unfortunate that any of us especially them at this time would want to take an opportunistic approach because of the pandemic crisis we are going through, I think it is rather unfortunate and I think it is utterly condemnable,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Speaking further, Governor Sanwo-Olu assured that other issues that led to the strike, including taxes, residential quarters for doctors, shortage of doctors, dismissal of health workers, among others were being taken care off, saying the doctors were aware of them all.

On the issue of dismissal, he denied that any doctor was dismissed, saying they were only redeployed to their primary duty post after spending about three to four months at the isolation centre.

The governor said the issue of taxation has to do with the law guiding taxation and could not unilaterally change it, but disclosed that the government was already engaging some private developers to build residential quarters for medical workers especially doctors.

The governor, therefore, urged the striking doctors to resume work, assuring that the state government was committed to sorting out whatever the issues were.

“And I think I owe the system as the Chief Incident Commander to express and to say to you that come back to work, I am still your governor, resume back to work and whatever the issues are we will sort it out,” he said.

The governor had earlier dedicated the Year 2020 Tree Planting Day to the frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19, saying it was the third time in a role that they were being so honoured.

According to him, the honour first came during the Workers Day celebration on May 1, followed by First Year Anniversary of his administration on May 29, adding: “The theme for this year is, ‘Trees for life,’ dedicated especially to our heroes on the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic response.”

Sanwo-Olu, however, said that the challenges of COVID-19 cannot make the government to ignore the existing problems and issues that predated the pandemic, affirming that the pandemic “cannot become an excuse for taking our attention away from other issues.”

“One of such is the issue of climate change and environmental sustainability. Lagos has seen its own fair share of climate change.

“We are not immune to global warming and the various other climatic challenges experienced around the world.

“As far back as 2008, Lagos State declared July 14 of every year as the Lagos State Tree Planting Day, and then went ahead to cement this in law with the passage in 2011 of the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency Law of 2011. So, by law, Tree Planting has been designated as one of the statutory responsibilities of LASPARK. What we are here to do today is, therefore, enshrined in law,” Sanwo-Olu stated.

He assured that the state would continue to be at the forefront of sustainable climate action in Nigeria and Africa, even as said that
the frontline workers were being honoured because, according to him, they toiled, day after day, in the most challenging circumstances imaginable, on behalf of others.

“You will agree with me that we can draw parallels between the protective role trees play in the environment and the roles of our health workers in protecting us from diseases and pandemics. It is therefore fitting that we are planting trees today to celebrate and support our health workers.

“And just as these trees will long outlive us, the heroic feats and sacrifices of our frontline health workers will also never be forgotten, even long after the pandemic is behind us.

“We do not have a back-up planet, so we must treat the Earth with respect and dignity. The trees we are about to plant today must be nurtured to grow and thrive, and contribute their part to protecting and safeguarding the environment,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu also commissioned a-36-chamber Morgue donated to the state government by IHS, Towers and situated within the premises of IDH, Yaba.

The governor expressed gratitude to IHS Towers, calling on other corporate bodies to follow the philanthropic step of the company.



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