Nigerian Resident Doctors may suspend strike before weekend ─Legislators

*The Federal lawmakers urge the Federal Ministry of Health to initiate payment of outstanding salary arrears of doctors as well as residency training funds for 2020 and 2021

*But if the 2015 and 2016 accumulative salaries and promotion arrears of about N28 billion are not paid, the strike would continue ─Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, President of National Association of Resident Doctors

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As the National Association of Resident Doctors’ (NARD) strike continues in Nigeria, Hon. Tanko Sununu, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Health, has expressed optimism that the physicians’ industrial action will be called off before the end of this week.

ConsumerConnect reports the Federal lawmaker Tuesday, August 10, 2021, in the National Assembly (NASS), in Abuja, FCT, however, urged the Federal Ministry of Health to initiate payment of outstanding salary arrears of doctors as well as residency training funds for 2020 and 2021.

L-R: Hon. Joseph Moses, Member, House of Representatives Committee on Health Services; Hon. Tanko Sununu, Chairman of the Committee; and Hon. Atiku Kalgo, Clerk to Committee, during meeting with Resident Doctors in NASS, in Abuja, FCT   Photo: The Guardian

Sununu disclosed this during a meeting of the Committee with Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, Honourable Minister of State for Health, and the leadership of NARD at the NASS Tuesday.

Earlier, the resident doctors have made a number of demands to the Federal Government for them to call off the strike soon.

In his address at the meeting, Mr. Ben Akabueze, Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, informed the lawmakers that N5.42billion meant for residency training for 2020 and 2021 was available, and would be paid once relevant procedure is followed.

Sequel to the information, the lawmakers unanimously urged appropriate offices of the government to immediately initiate payment.

NARD’s response in meeting with Federal lawmakers

As deliberations continue to find a lasting solution to the lingering industrial dispute, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, President of NARD, told the participants in the meeting with the legislators, that the strike would not be called off.

“Let everybody suffer the brain drain,” Dr. Okhuaihesuyi said.

According to him, if the 2015 and 2016 accumulative salaries and promotion arrears of about N28 billion were not paid, the strike would continue.

Nonetheless, the Committee and Dr. Mamora asked the President of NARD to withdraw the statement, describing it as a threat.

Okhuaihesuyi, eventually, withdrew the statement with an apology.

Meanwhile, the Progressive Governors’ Forum, following an emergency meeting Tuesday, also called on NARD members to suspend their ongoing strike.

The Forum, led by Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, noted that its position agrees to the earlier call by the Federal Government, through Minister of Labour, Sen. (Dr.) Chris Ngige, for an immediate suspension of the action, to make way for continued negotiations.

The Progressive Governors’ Forum in a statement, also said it supported the initiative of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), aimed at addressing the doctors’ grievances in the country.

While stressing that most of the doctors’ grievances are with state governments, the Forum called for negotiations with individual states.

Issues affecting their counterparts in Federal establishments should be negotiated with the Federal Government, it stated.

Likewise, the University College Hospital (UCH) Chapter of NARD was quoted to have  berated the Rivers State Chapter of the medical doctors’ association for calling off the strike.

Dr. Temitope Hussein, NARD President at UCH, stated this while speaking with reporters in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

Hussein said: “Resident doctors calling off their strike in Rivers State is not acceptable. It is a national body.

“The decision was taken by all the teaching hospitals at our National Executive Meeting in Umahia, Abia State.

“As we go on, NARD will issue an official statement to that effect. The national body will react appropriately. State teaching hospitals are part of NARD.”

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