Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr Aliyu Sokomba, confirmed on Tuesday that a verbal invitation has been extended to leaders of the Association for a meeting with the representatives of the Federal Government on how best to resolve contentious issues that led to the industrial action by the doctors.
The meeting, as gathered, was called by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and it is expected to hold at the Ministry headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.
Dr Sokomba told Daily Sun that the agenda of the meeting revolves around issues that have been discussed in past meetings with government representatives which led to the strike by the doctors.
‘It revolves around funding for Residency Training which was said to had been included In revised 2020 national budget. We have heard that for years, yet, the funds are not being released for the implementation of the residency training,’ he stated.
‘Another issue is the failure of the Federal Government to procure group life insurance and death in service benefits for all health workers, as well as payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance for six months.
‘Also, the non-payment of the outstanding salary shortfall of 2014, 2015, 2016; non-implementation of medical residency training Act at state level; the non-implementation of appropriate salary structure; and the non-payment of owed salaries, among several others.’
The NARD leader accused the Federal Government of being insincere in determining the revised hazard allowance for all health workers which was supposed to commence in September.
‘We are not asking the government to bring down heaven for us neither are we asking for salary increase. We simply asked for basic things that would help do our job well. For example, they tell us each year that funding for residency training has been captured in the budget, yet, we don’t get to see the money. Enough of that.
‘Our people have been pacified several times by several senior government officials over the strike. Last one was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who intervened during the last strike in June. This time, I don’t think our members would be hoodwinked again. I am impressed with the compliance level in the ongoing strike. It’s totally and impressive.’
He said that National Executive Council (NEC) of NARD has resolved that the strike will continue until all the contentious issues are resolved with evidence to prove.
Meanwhile, patients in public hospitals in Nigeria have begun to feel the negative impact of the strike by medical doctors on the second day of the industrial action.
They appealed to Federal Government to attend to the demands of the doctors so that they can return to hospitals and attend to urgent health needs.