From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has accused Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige of “feeding” Nigerians with falsehood in regards to the ongoing strike by the medical doctors.
The doctors, at the end of their recent virtual National Executive Council (NEC) meeting convened to review the ongoing strike, observed that the minister has taken pleasure lately in discrediting the doctors and inciting the people against the doctors, instead of finding a lasting solution to industrial actions that had crippled medical services at public health care facilities.
The NEC, in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, observed that despite efforts by the National Officers Committee (NOC) to ensure that the federal government does what is necessary to end the ongoing strike, it has continued in ‘insincerity’ of promises, hence the current stalemate in the industrial action.
NARD President Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi expressed the disappointment of the NEC over the minister’s statements on the matter.
He recalled that NARD had given a two-month ultimatum before declaring the industrial action when it appeared to it that the Ministry of Health was not interested in any settlement to avert the action.
‘The Memorandum of Action (MoA) signed was after 12 midnight on 31st of March, 2021, when the ultimatum had elapsed. Without prejudice to the labour laws and other extant laws of the land, the industrial action had already begun before the MoA was signed and as such, not tenable,’ Okhuaihesuyi stated.
‘The Minister of State for Health had admitted that all the issues raised by NARD in her communique are germane and legitimate, blaming bureaucratic bottlenecks in government for the delay/non-implementation of previous memoranda signed with NARD.’
For the avoidance of doubt, Dr Okhuaihesuyi stated that NARD is not a financial arm of the Nigerian Government and is therefore not involved in any form of payment of residency training funding as was alleged in the meeting called at the instance of the minister.
The doctors, however, reappraised the situation, their demands, highlighted actions, and offers and steps taken by the government, measures which they says were not enough to assuage them, before unanimously voting that the ongoing strike which started on April 1 be continued until the federal and state governments fulfilled their demands.
We reiterate our commitment to the smooth running of all tertiary institutions and provision of specialist healthcare to Nigerians. But we need to first of all care for our own health and welfare in order to give standard care to our patients. This is in line with the our physician oath,’ he said.