PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE NIGERIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ON THE INCREASE IN PUMP PRICE OF FUEL BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA AND UPCOMING STRIKE, HELD AT THE NMA SECRETARIAT ABUJA ON FRIDAY THE 6TH OF JANUARY 2012.
Following the formal declaration of strike by NLC/TUC to commence on the 9th, January 2012 through separate Communiqué at press conferences tagged ”In defence of the Nigerian people on fuel price increases” Held at Abuja and Lagos respectively on Wednesday 4th January,2012,the NMA, a professional association of all medical doctors and Dentists in Nigeria, though not a member of NLC/TUC, identifies, supports and associates itself with the people orientated and focused actions contained in the above NLC/TUC communiqué.
The decision taken by government on fuel subsidy at this time of our chequered history, canvassed and preached by government functionaries and some few groups and being forced through the throat of Nigerians cannot hold water.
The Nigerian Medical Association had since the public announcement by government on removal of fuel subsidy been in active consultation with the NLC, TUC, NBA and other professional bodies and civil societies. We have also consulted widely with all state branches of the NMA including FCT Abuja, and senior members of the profession and association. The hallmark of these are:
POSITION—»The NMA condemns and rejects this insensitive increase in the pump price of fuel in the name of subsidy removal in the midst of increasing unemployment, red-alert insecurity, exponential poverty, increasing Ill- health and diseases, collapsed educational systems amongst others in the land. We in the NMA join the millions of Nigerians to resist this evil. Where democracy thrives, power belongs to the people, with the elected leaders listening to the yearnings of the people and not governing with impunity.ACTIONSWhile NMA is in tandem with the NLC/TUC declared strike, the participation of NMA shall be stratified as follows:Nigerian Medical Association national leadership will join in the demonstration at the national level while the members in all the 36 states including FCT Abuja are directed to join other groups or carry out independent protests in states.
Our Protesting members should be appropriately dressed in white coats with First Aid materials/ambulances to ensure we attend to the health needs of protesters. Sick bays should be set up at demonstration sites or location to care for the needy.
In view of the fact that we are not unmindful of the likely casualties, medical and surgical emergencies that are bound to occur, emergency sections of the hospitals should remain open to render emergency services. Management of the different hospitals should work out appropriate schedules. This is borne out of the fact that people we are protecting and making a case for, should not suffer unduly from ill health occasioned by the strike and bad governance. We implore ambulance owners to assist with ambulances during the protest. This is without prejudice to states where strikes has been ongoing before now for other reasons. In such states, the
strike continues to get the blessing of NMA.
1. We decry any form of police or military brutality or harassment or arrest in the course of peaceful protest/demonstration and strike embarked by people of Nigeria, while calling on protesters/demonstrators to be civil in their conduct.
2.We call for reversal of the pump price of fuel or PMS to
N65:00 per litre immediately. NLC/TUC and all other groups and professional associations should not entertain any discussion with government until the reversal is done.
3.A promising government with POWER at her disposal should be able to bring cabals in any form in the oil and gas industry and in other sectors of the economy to book and check corruption at highest levels.
APPEAL: We use this occasion to appreciate the 7th National Assembly, for their people centered positions on issues so far. On the burning issue at stake, we implore the National Assembly to urge Mr. President to reverse the subsidy removal in line with the peoples demand. We equally call on the Executives/National/State Assemblies to address the prevailing extravagant cost of running government which have been repeatedly referred to by various quarters.
LAST STRAW: NMA will not hesitate to completely close down all health facilities in the country if government allows the NLC/TUC/ civil society strike/protest extend to Friday 13th January 2012. A close monitoring of developments may necessitate a change in strategy. We therefore call on government to address this people directed wish without further delay.
CONCLUSION. Government must realize that it cannot always be right, and that times have changed with increasing awareness and sophistication.It should now be clear to the government that the benefits of the so-called subsidy on petrol cuts across all strata of the population and impart directly more on the downtrodden. The theory that states would be better funded is difficult to believe as we are yet to see in many states what their statutory Federal allocation along with Internally Generated revenue has been used for.Government should therefore reverse this action to prevent further damages to the good people of this Country.
DR. OMEDE IDRIS