Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Aleredolu, on Wednesday said he was not moved by the industrial action embarked upon by both doctors and lawyers in the state to demand the payment of their unpaid salaries and allowances.
Governor Akeredolu explained that the health workers and legal practitioners could continue to be on the street to demand their payment as long as their agitations are peaceful.
The resident doctors in the state had on Monday begun an indefinite strike over the non-payment of their four-month salaries and other outstanding allowances.
The doctors were later joined by lawyers in the state’s Ministry of Justice to also protest at the governor’s office over the refusal to pay their bonuses and other several packages.
Speaking on a television program monitored by SaharaReporters, Akeredolu said that the doctors’ strike specifically had not affected operations at the hospitals.
“I don’t see any problem with that,” he said. “I am one person who has always encouraged any group who wants to protest to protest. It’s their right. They have a right to go out and protest. I will never send police officers to you.
“You have the right to remain on the streets for three to five days; there is no problem. There is nothing wrong in protest. I have led protests before. So, you can protest. You can be there. It has never moved me in any way. But all I know is that if you choose to be on the streets, so be it.
“If you look at the resident doctors, the resident doctors in their case were saying they wanted their salaries to be paid as you pay other civil servants. They held meetings, and it was said that that would commence from October.
“When I read that they were going on strike, I told the commissioner for finance, ‘you brought papers to me here.’ There was an increase in wages. I asked you, and you said it was because you had included resident doctors wages in the normal salaries we pay.
“I then asked, ‘why are they going on strike?’ He said he told them, but maybe they don’t believe it.
“But by now, we have paid the salaries like they paid other civil servants; they will go back. You know, at times, they want to enjoy it.
“Resident doctors are the ones who are in training, working with teaching hospitals. Other doctors are working. Assuming we decide to suspend the training, must we train them?”
“We need to understand that teaching hospitals used to pay from their grants, but we find out that their grants come late.
“Other civil servants would have been paid before they get theirs. Their grants come late, and there is nothing we can do about it,” he added.
SaharaReporters, New York