From Benjamin Babine, Abuja, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan and Doris Obinna
Despite a seven-hour meeting with the Federal Government where a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was said to have been signed, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), yesterday, commenced its indefinite strike, grounding services in hospitals across the country.
President of the association, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, who disclosed this, yesterday, said the ultimatum given to the Federal Government to meet the association’s demands expired on March 31 with no significant achievement, and that doctors resolved to go ahead with the strike as agreed after NARD’s extraordinary National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Saturday.
“We commence strike 8a.m. today (Thursday) while we are still trying to evaluate the federal government’s offer,” he said.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige had earlier expressed confidence that the industrial action would be suspended after disclosing that both sides had reached a deal with an MOU.
At the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, the action recorded 100 per cent compliance.
President of ARD, UCH chapter, Dr. Temitope Hussain said the management of the hospital had reached out to the association to, at least, allow skeletal services, but members insisted on total and indefinite strike to press home their demands.
“We commenced the strike April 1; it is a total and indefinite. We hope that government will accede to our demands so that we can call the strike off.”
In Lagos, activities at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Ebutte-Metta, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Federal Neuropsychiatrist Hosital, Yaba and Lagos University Teaching Hospital ( LUTH), were grounded by the protesting doctors.
President of ARD for LUTH, Dr. Hassan Jimoh, said compliance was total.
“I can say there is 100 per cent compliance; as you can see the compound is empty as there are no resident doctors on sight. All residents doctors/interns across our centres like FMC Ebutte-Metta.” LASUTH, Neuropsychiatrist and LUTH are all on strike.”
He said patients on admission were advised to seek medical help elsewhere.
NARD had threatened to commence an indefinite strike on Thursday if the Federal Government failed to meet its demands, which inclued non-payment of allowances,payment of all salaries arrears, review of current hazard allowance to 50 per cent, and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 allowance, especially in state-owned tertiary institutions.
Resident doctors, who are undergoing training to become consultants, make up a large percentage of doctors in Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals.