By Nudoiba Ojen
The Nigeria Medical Association has joined Nigerian workers to oppose implementation by the Federal Government of the Rule 020909 of the new Public Service Rules (PSR), which stipulate retirement for public servants including medical doctors of directorate cadre and above who had been in a position for eight years.
NMA Chairman, Lagos State Branch, Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, who urged the government to have a rethink and adjust the policy as a matter of necessity, said, “The policy will affect Nigerians more than the people they are targeting”.
Speaking in an interview on Thursday, Dr Olowojebutu said, “I don’t think it will be fair on the populace of the country. World Health Organisation stipulates one doctor to 600 patients, but in Nigeria, it is one doctor to 7000, 8000 patients.
“How will you say young doctors should retire compulsorily because they became director on time, what happens to the populace that they are treating or helping?
“The Federal Government should adjust whatever they are saying so that it does not come back to to the brain drain we are talking about. This is another form of brain drain. They should look at it and try to adjust this kind of very bad policy that will affect Nigerians and will affect the citizens,” the NMA Chairman said.
This is as the concerned public servants urged the president, Bola Tinubu, to suspend implementation of or outrightly abrogate the Rule 020909 of the new PSR, saying it is anti-democratic and in conflict with extant rules.
They condemned the reintroduction of the Rule 020909 by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Esan, saying it will bring about compulsory retirement of hundreds of experienced and innocent senior public servants in one fell swoop.
The public servants faulted the Circular Ref. No. HCSF/SPSO/268/T3/2/37 dated 27th July 2023 to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies where Esan directed that all the provisions of the new PSR should be implemented with immediate effect.
Also troubling on the matter is an Internal Memo of the Federal Ministry of Finance to its staff titled “Implementation of Tenure Policy”.
Speaking in different Save-Our-Soul messages to President Tinubu; Senate President, Godswill Akpabio; and House of Representatives Speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, the worried senior public servants are calling for suspension or outright abrogation of the policy in the interest of justice and fairplay.
They stated, “We urge President Tinubu to suspend the implementation of Rule 020909 of the new PSR as it will work untold hardship on innocent public servants.
“The President should refuse to be part of those who would mindlessly throw innocent citizens into sudden and untold hardship at this time.
“Why should career public officers be limited to eight years on a post when they have not attained retirement age? The rule is wicked and punitive. It deprives innocent citizens of attaining maximum pensionable years and they are being short changed by their father land.
“For Rule 020909, your offence is premised on joining the public service at an early age and rising to the top early. The President should know that many of the affected staff will be short changed in the sense that their pensionable years will not be complete as they are being forced out of service. This is punitive.
“The most insidious aspect of the obnoxious rule is its extension to parastatals that have their establishment laws which specifically stipulate conditions under which the appointment of an employee may be terminated by the governing Council or Board of Management”.
These, they said, included the universities, teaching hospitals and regulatory bodies among others which the law referred to as “employments with statutory flavour in the sense that the stipulated conditions and procedures must be followed before an employee can be disengaged.
“Noteworthy that this policy affects senior doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists and other health workers and professionals too. These are personnel that are already in extremely short supply.
“Most importantly why would President Tinubu suddenly sack a group of innocent public officers who have committed no offence at this time when things are hard for citizens?
“It should be noted that in reality, those to be affected by the obnoxious rule are those who joined the service when they were young and their reasonable expectation was that they will retire upon the attainment of statutory age of retirement.
“The rule is unfair and inequitable. It was made to apply to directors and permanent secretaries. The rule can apply to permanent secretaries who retire on full emolument for life, not directors who are entitled to the general paltry monthly pension,”
“Dr Folashade Esan, the chief proponent of the tenure rule, most probably, spent more than 8 years as a director in the Ministry of Health before she was appointed as a permanent secretary and, then, the Head of Service.
“She will retire on August 13, 2024, when she clocks 60 years of age. Why is she now desperate to deprive other citizens of the security of their jobs and fulfilment? Perhaps she should have led by example by voluntarily retiring from service now!”, they stated.