Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Fashola Forced by Struggle to Recall the Sacked Doctors;

Fashola Forced by Struggle to Recall the Sacked Doctors;

But CONMESS, the Main Issue, Remains Unresolved!

By Peluola Adewale

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) welcomes the recall of 788 medical doctors illegally and callously sacked by the Babatunde Fashola government of Lagos state. The retreat of Fashola who had hitherto acted as if his draconian action was irreversible is a huge victory for the doctors and shows that if workers struggle they could defeat even the worst of the authoritarian governments. Indeed, this development is not a victory just for the medical doctors but also for all the categories of workers. If Fashola had succeeded it would have threatened to decimate strike action as the last weapon used by workers to win concessions from government and private employers of labour.

This victory will make other workers especially in Lagos to break out of the cocoon of fear and confront the state government with their various demands. For instance, apart from the fact that the leadership of NLC and TUC in Lagos state has been effectively pocketed by the government, the state public sector workers have not been able to voice out their deep-seated displeasure against the poor implementation of the new minimum wage apparently out of fear of possible brutal consequences.

We however call on the medical doctors not to be carried away by the recall. They should demand from government, that in addition to the recall, a concrete agreement on the final resolution of the issue of CONMESS which was originally responsible for the face-off. All the statements credited to Governor Fashola and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which claimed to have prevailed on the governor to recall the medical doctors are silent on the implementation of CONMESS. This shows there is attempt to sweep the main issue under the carpet.

We commend the solidarity actions of the Nigeria Medical Association, National Association of Resident Doctors, the organized private sector of Lagos NLC including National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Joint Action Front (JAF) whose unflinching support force the Fashola government to retreat. This has confirmed the correctness of the consistent call of the DSM for solidarity actions from the trade unions and working people organizations whenever a worker or a group of workers become victims of attacks from government or private employers.

However, the recall of the doctors and even the implementation of CONMESS cannot guarantee a lasting peace in the health sector. Already other categories of health workers including nurses and laboratory technologists are spoiling for action against the state government for similar reason as doctors – namely the blatant refusal of Fashola’s government to implement a national salary structure. We call on trade unions and working people organizations to begin to mount pressure on the government to meet the demands of these health workers lest it plunges the health sector into another round of crisis.

Besides, the recall of the 788 doctors has not obliterated the fact that there is gross inadequacy of medical doctors and other categories of health workers in the state hospitals in addition to paucity of standard facilities for quality health delivery. Therefore the professional bodies in the health sectors should always include in their agitation the demand for the recruitment of adequate manpower and improvement in facilities.

It should be stressed that the lack of adequate facilities and personnel in the public hospitals just like in the other sectors is not a result of lack of fund but as a consequence of the anti-poor, capitalist agenda of the ACN government in the state. Already, there is privatization of some of facilities like mortuary at the public hospitals. There are also private wards where only the rich could get the best available medical attention.

The state ACN government has consistently unleashed brutal attacks on not only workers but also other sections of the working people like Motorcycle commercial operators, taxi drivers and petty traders. For instance, there is a ban on the use of imported used cars (tokunboh) for taxi operation in the state. The operators are asked to buy brand new cars, at prices beyond their reach, from schemes managed by the elements in the government and their associates, or become drivers working for the super profit interests of the government lackeys. Already, the state government has imposed outrageous fees on Lagos state university, an increase of about 750%, which have made about 70% of qualified students forfeit the admission offered them by the institution in the current academic session as a result of inability to pay.

All this has further shown the anti-poor characters of the ACN. More and more people have started shedding off the illusion in ACN and coming to the conclusion there is no difference between the party and PDP as against the propaganda of the mainstream media. The problem is the absence of a party which offers working people economic alternative against the run of anti-poor capitalist neo-liberal economic agenda. This is one of the reasons the DSM has come up with the initiative of building Socialist Party of Nigeria as a political alternative which genuinely represents the interests of the working people. We call on workers, youths and the poor to join the party today.