Doctors in marathon meeting to end strike

Doctors in marathon meeting to end strike

(L_R) Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; Minister of State for Labour, Prof. Stephen Ochoni; President Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Kayode Obembe and the President Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Onyebueze John during the meeting at the Conference Hall, Ministry of Labour, Federal Secretariat, Abuja.  Photo: Courtesy, Vanguard Newspaper

ABUJA – The Executive Council of the  National Association of Resident Doctors in Nigeria, NARD, is currently holding a marathon meeting in Abuja to decide whether or not to end current strike by the doctors.

Two members of the NEC who spoke with our correspondent on Friday said the meeting would begin late in the night and might end Saturday morning.

NARD downed tool last Monday following government’s failure to meet its six-point demand.  The demands are failure to pay the doctors’ shortfall of 2016 and January to May 2017; failure to rectify the salary shortfall from August 2017; failure to circularize House Officers’ Entry Point; failure to correct the stagnation of promotion of the doctors and properly place them on their appropriate grade level.

Others grievances include: failure to enroll and capture the doctors on Integrated Personnel Payment Information System (IPPIS); failure to budget, deduct and remit both the employer and employees’ contributions of the doctors’ pension to their retirement savings account since 2013.

It is the second time NARD has decided to down tools since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in May 2015.

In June 2016, the association proceeded on strike to compel the government to meet its demands that couldn’t be met by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan’s government had twice sacked and reabsorbed the doctors after pleas from stakeholders.

Buhari’s government shocked the doctors by suspending residency programmes nationwide, meaning they were all disengaged.

Current of NARD’s NEC is sequel to a meeting held by leadership of NARD with Federal Government on Thursday.

Present at the marathon meeting, which held at the office of Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige are the  Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole; President, Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Prof. Mike Ogirima and  NARD President, Dr. Onyebueze John.

Others are representatives of the Federal Ministry of Finance,  National Income and Wages Commission; Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation; Accountant-General of the Federation; and Budget Office of the Federation.

At the meeting, government agreed to address demands of the doctors, but that it would take some weeks to fulfill the pledge. The government also gave a condition that would prevent  it from disciplining any member of NARD who participates in the strike: NEC must call the strike off today.

Part of a release made available to newsmen by Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation after the meeting read: “The Federal Government will appeal to State Governments and organisations that owe salary shortfalls/emoluments to health workers to make genuine efforts to liquidate these arrears in the spirit of revamping the health care system in the country.

“The meeting agreed that NARD national officers are to present the outcome of the re-negotiated Memorandum of Terms of Settlement to an emergency meeting of its members by Friday September 8, 2017 with a view to suspending the strike once there is evidence of payment of the mandate as presented to the meeting, to the affected institutions.

“No member of NARD will be victimised as a result of this strike if suspended, after the emergency meeting of Friday, September 8, 2017.  This conciliation meeting is adjourned to reconvene on Thursday, November 2, 2017.”

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