Strike: Doctors ultimatum expires, hold NEC meeting Friday
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors has shifted its decision on the ultimatum it issued to the Federal Government by one week, The PUNCH reports.
The association said it shifted its decision to give room for more dialogue between the parties involved, particularly with the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Our correspondent gathered that the association has scheduled to hold an extraordinary National Executive Council meeting from Friday, August 19 to Sunday, August 21, 2022, at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Kwara State to deliberate on the NARD ultimatum.
The PUNCH reports that no fewer than 78 federal and state health facilities will be affected if the doctors embark on an industrial action.
There are currently at least 11,000 resident doctors in the country.
The resident doctors had, on July 30, 2022, issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to implement all the agreements it had with the association or it would embark on an indefinite strike.
NARD’s demands include the payment of the newly-reviewed Medical Residency Training Fund; the immediate implementation and payment of the new hazard allowance and arrears among several others.
The ultimatum expired on Sunday, August 14, 2022.
However, speaking with our correspondent on Sunday, the NARD President, Dr Dare Ishaya, said the association would make its final decision on Saturday, and brief the media on Sunday, August 21, 2022.
Ishaya said, “We have met with the Minister of State for Health, Joseph Ekumankama. We intimated him about the happenings and where we are. He promised to follow up with the hazard allowance and the Medical Residency Training Funds, and he pleaded that we should give him a chance to intervene. He asserted that he would be willing to follow up with the Ministry of Finance.
“On our part, we have to schedule a meeting for Friday (August 19) for our decision instead of Monday (today).
“Our association will never contemplate going on strike. We always want to see that all avenues available are exhausted, and if all the interactions fail to bring the necessary actions to solve the problems, that is when we resort to an ultimatum and eventually go on strike.
“We are actually doing our work and putting our lives on the line. There is no country in this world that, for seven months, a circular for increased allowance was released but we have not received the pay and no specific direction as to what exactly the fate is with the MRTF.”
The association’s Publicity Secretary, Dr Yusuf Alfa, said the shift was necessitated to give room for the government to intervene.
“The government can use the window to do the needful,” Alfa said.
Meanwhile, the National President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Uche Ojinmah, said he had notified the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), about NARD’s demand last week.
Ojinmah stated, “They said they would start payment in May, but nothing has been paid. Later, they said NARD had not expressly accepted the increased hazard allowance and then, NARD accepted the hazard allowance, yet, they didn’t pay again.
“It will be dishonest to the service of Nigerian doctors to say NARD should not go on strike, but we are talking with them while pleading with the government to do the responsible thing. I was able to see the President last week, and I laid this issue on the table and I believe the highest authority has been informed.”
Our correspondent contacted the Director of Press/Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Phil Abiamuwe-Mowete, for comments, but she did not respond to calls or the text message sent to her as of the time of filing this report.
Efforts to reach the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, for his position on the issue proved abortive.
He did not take his calls and had yet to respond to a text message sent to him.
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