From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has distanced itself from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) drafted by the Federal Government and vehemently refused to sign the document as a commitment to ending its ongoing industrial action.
The association described the MoU as a veiled punishment for doctors, who are to bear the brunt of government’s failures.
Resident doctors on August 1 commenced a strike over alleged failure of the Federal Government to implement an agreement bordering on salaries and allowances.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had dragged the association before the National Industrial Court to adjudicate on the matter.
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), on Friday, led the resident doctors to a meeting summoned at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the nationwide strike.
Briefing newsmen, yesterday, after the meeting with representatives of the Federal Government in Abuja, NARD National President, Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, said he could not sign the MoU as a result of an undisclosed clause.
“We rejected the MoU; we didn’t sign it because we feel we are being punished for the failures of those in government.”
He announced the nationwide strike would continue and the association would continue with the court case.
Uyilawa, however, disclosed NARD leadership would have to present the new MoU to its members before he could sign the document.
On his part, Ngige said all other unions in the negotiation, including the NMA and the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria have signed the new agreement.
The minister said the meeting did not discuss the issue of ‘No Work No Pay’ but that all parties at the meeting agreed to an out-of-court settlement. He said the Federal Government would begin implementation of the MoU today.
“The meeting agreed we need to let this matter go. Therefore, the budget office of the federation should start from the 2021 service vote to start paying. And if we have any leftovers, we roll it into 2022.
“Coming to hazard allowance, everybody agreed the discussion is still ongoing and therefore the government wants to finish it up. We agreed with the NMA position that they don’t want to discuss holistically anymore as an association and that they have their own peculiarities that are not the same with other health workers.
“We are going to do two meetings, one for NMA and affiliates and one for JOHESU. But we are taking the meetings concurrently so that we don’t run into troubled waters. We are starting next week,” Ngige said.
Ngige disclosed the NMA has been directed to submit a written position on the controversial withdrawing of doctors under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and house officers from the scheme of service to point out the anomaly in the circular.