The Case Of Government Being Adamant I Thought “NEVER” Belongs To God: In Re-Instating Health Workers’ Leaders

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh(PNW)

One of the things I learned from my late grandmother was that I should always be careful during the time of conflict from using the word, “NEVER,” whenever there is a deadlock or disagreement in resolving a matter. In her words in simple English, the Old-ma told me, “NEVER BELONGS TO GOD AND NOT MEN.” She added that in a conflict situation, like in the present case of the government and the health workers, there must be a give-and-take situation,’ and not adamancy. Since then many years ago, I have come to realize that the advice of my grandmother is indeed true because sometimes because of expediency, one has to give in resolving a matter.

To say, “NEVER,” to my late grandmother denotes a non-compromising stance, which could be a hurdle to resolving a particular conflict, which in addition, could stall all efforts to resolve whatever conflict or bone of contention in the conflict. Since then, I always try to avoid the use of NEVER whenever I am involved in a conflict situation, not necessarily concerning me as an individual.

Today, I reflect on what the old lady told me when I heard the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, insisting that he dismissed leaders of the Health Workers Association, would “NEVER”be reinstated. Interestingly, the minister made the assertion when he made a plea to striking health workers most of whom are working at the Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) to continue doing their work as all is being done to pay them the full amount of their hazard or risk allowances. The workers last week began the action in demand for their risk or hazard allowances which was promised them by government.

In making the plea on Monday at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing on the “Fight against Ebola, Minister Gwenigale reminded the workers that the country’s health system is at a cross-road and it is now incumbent upon all Health Care Workers (HCW) to contribute to the system, indicating that the system is seriously in need especially at a time when the deadly Ebola virus is raging on, and it requires the help of HCW to bring the situation under control.

To the utter surprise of many, the Minister while making the plea to the striking workers, stating government’s commitment to the workers, said the dismissed leaders of the health workers would “NEVER” be re-instated, and pointed out that if anyone is on strike because they want the dismissed leadership of the Health workers to be reinstated, they must have well stayed at home. In his words he said, “Those dismissed health workers leadership will never be reinstated. They will not come back to work thus if anyone is striking to have them reinstated, the striking worker must just stay home.”

As I ruminate on what the Minister said, many questions continue to crop up. The first is: why is the government recalcitrant, despite numerous appeals, including some from the Capitol Building? Why really did these leaders do to warrant such a stance against them by the government? What will the re-instatement of these workers cost the Liberian Government? Is there something the government is hiding from the public, as it is noted for poor communication? Is someone trying to settle score at the detriment of the Liberian people?

I have been pondering over these questions because I see no reason at this time of national health crisis the government, being fully aware of the consequences of the Ebola outbreak, remains adamant in re-instating these workers. With this disease overwhelming the health sector of his country, it is unwise for this government to allow this issue to drag on.

As it is said, “not everything that is legal is expedient,”’ so this government should see reason to listen to the many pleas to have those leaders re-instated. As we usually say in Liberia, “God will not come to talk to you (government).” The country is faced with a serious war and threat, something for which the State of Emergency, therefore, this government should not be the cause for a diversion from this national crisis to that of the health workers.

This country cannot be engaged in a war against this deadly disease and concomitantly at another front be entangled in another conflict with health workers. The government that is immensely being assisted by the international community should stop adding insult to injury. The recalcitrant stance of the government can be likened to declaring a war against one’s enemies, and at the same time, decimating those who should be in the front to execute the war in its favor.

One again, the government should see reason to reinstate the dismissed health workers’ leaders. Considering the prevailing situation at this time, it is ill-advised on the part of this government to allow this matter to drag on to the detriment of this war against Ebola. Specifically, I call on President Sirleaf, the head of the government to take note of this to avoid undermining all of the efforts to combat the spread of this pestilence that has befallen this nation.

As I was watching the BBC News yesterday, I gathered that there is a decline in new cases of the disease in this country. This means we are making great efforts to curtail its spread. Hence, this issue of the health workers should not be a reason to undermine this, should the workers insist taking certain actions that would not positively contribute towards this fight.

To conclude, let me say it in the Liberian way, “God will not come to talk to the government,” therefore, let the government pay heed to the plethora of pleas by re-instating the health workers’ leaders. I am delighted to hear that the Liberian Senate, which has been following the matter has also expressed concern over the Minister’s statement that ,“Those dismissed health workers leadership will never be reinstated. They will not come back to work thus if anyone is striking to have them reinstated, the striking workers must just stay home.”