Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights



The medical doctors in Lagos state have embarked on an indefinite strike again due to the refusal by the Lagos State Government to pay Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) as agreed last year. We see no justification whatsoever why the Lagos State Government, one of the richest in the country and seen as ‘progressive’, will refuse to pay doctors and other workers in the state a living wage.

The Babatunde Fashola government has claimed that it was not part of the agreement reached with federal government and therefore not duty-bound to implement it, citing the well-worn but specious argument of true federalism. It is only when the issue has to do with workers we are often fed with the story of true federalism. Lagos State government officials/political appointees are all paid jumbo allowances, far more than what workers in the state receive, just like their counterpart in other states and at the federal level. These jumbo pays are fixed by a federal government agency known as the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). On the basis of the so-called federalism one would have expected the Lagos state government top functionaries to reject such outrageous salaries and allowances. Alas, they do not as they smile to their banks every time. Federalism is a ready-made ploy to avoid meeting the genuine demands of workers for better pay and improved working conditions. It is the same argument used to deny teachers in the state their entitlement to a new Teachers Salary Scale (TSS) in line with agreement between the teachers union (NUT) and the federal government. Though, there has been an increase in salaries of Lagos state teachers after more than a year of denial, it is paltry and a far cry from what TSS offers.

The state government has been indifferent in spite of the hardship the strike has inflicted on the poor people. This is simply because the rich and the ruling elite in Lagos don’t patronize public hospitals- they either patronize big private hospitals in the country or mostly travel abroad for medical attention at tax payers’ expense. The blame of the strike and its effects should be put squarely on the government that is paying little or no attention to facilities in public hospitals and welfare of workers.

Instead of addressing the issue and demands, the government has threatened to sack the striking doctors. This and other instances of the government towards the strike and that of education workers in the state tertiary institutions only show that it is anti-workers and anti-people. Despite its self-claim to progressive governance, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) led government in Lagos state is as reactionary and anti-poor as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is planning to upstage at the federal level. This has called for formation of a genuine working peoples’ alternative to the political rots at all levels of government in the country. This is a task labour and pro-masses organizations must devote time, energy and resources to in earnest.

We however appeal to the striking doctors to put in place skeletal services in case of serious emergency situation so that the poor, who patronize public hospitals will not pay extremely for the insensitivity of the government.

The Campaign for the Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) calls on the Lagos State Government to immediately meet the demands of the striking doctors, pay a living wage to all health workers and upgrade the facilities in all public hospitals to a standard that will guarantee quality and affordable health care service to the poor. We also demand that all political office holders must be paid the average wage of a skilled worker!

CDWR calls on all medical associations (NARD, NMA, GMD etc.) in the state to deepen the struggle by opening up collaborative activities with other unions in other sectors and pro-people civil society organisations for a day of mass action to press home their demands. The NLC and TUC should also initiate and mobilize for a mass solidarity action in support of the striking doctors and education workers in Lagos state. All and sundry should join hands in the struggle to rescue public health care and education from its present collapsing state.

Rufus Olusesan
Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights