The Federal Government on Monday in Abuja stated that the strike declared by the National Association of Resident Doctors was illegal and unwarranted.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, disclosed this to Journalists during the opening of a retreat organised for Chairmen of Boards of management, Governing Boards, Governing Councils, Chief Executive Officers and Directors of Administration of tertiary Hospitals and parastatals.
Chukwu said, “The strike by Resident Doctors was uncalled for because we were already handling the issues after our meeting with the Nigerian Medical Association. I still remember that the NMA gave us an ultimatum to look at certain issues and we had very long meeting with the NMA and indeed NARD participated in that meeting.
“There is a committee being chaired by Head of Civil Service of the Federation in which the NMA, including NARD are well represented. These are the same matters being handled; so there were persons already in a committee handling those issues and they should have exercised some patience.
“We understand that some of the issues have not been resolved but I think we can do well and exercise some patience before going on strike because when we go on strike, peoples‚Äô lives are involved.”
Asked whether the strike was politically motivated, the Minister answered in the negative. “For now, I don’t see it as politically motivated; I see it as Resident Doctors getting restive. But we are appealing to them to really calm down and exercise some patience; it will all be resolved”, he said.
The Minister directed that the hospitals which are indebted to workers should compile the number of months they are owing House Officers for onward transfer to the Directors in charge of administration.
There had been indications that NARD would call off its five-day old strike on Monday following the fruitful meeting it had with the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu and Prof Chukwu.
A statement by the Head (Press/Public Relations) in the Labour Ministry, Samuel Olowookere said that NARD has agreed to consider the suspension of its ongoing strike action.
He said, “The decision to consider the suspension of the strike action by NARD was reached after a protracted meeting which lasted for over fourteen hours.
“In attendance at the along with Prof. Chuckwu include the Executive Chairman, National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Richard Ebule; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Ambassador Sani Bala.”
Olowookere quoted a resolution reached at the end of the meeting to include that Resident Doctors would remain on the IPPIS programme while the problems identified by members of NARD in the programme should be addressed and resolved.
The resolution was jointly signed by the National President of NARD, Dr. Jubril Abdullahi; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Ambassador Sani Bala and his counterpart in Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Chinedu Dike
It reads in part that ‚ÄúIn view of the above dialogue in good faith, a meeting of NARD NEC would be convened on Monday, October 7, 2013 to consider the suspension of the on-going withdrawal of service by its members‚Äù.
According to him, a high-powered committee to be chaired by Chukwu was put in place to address the challenges identified by NARD on the implementation of IPPIS.
The membership of the committee include, Permanent Secretaries in the Federal Ministries of Health and Labour; Accountant-General of the Federation; Chairman of NSIWC; Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation; Director of Finance and Accounts/IPPIS Coordinator; Nigerian Medical Associataion and NARD representatives.
On funding of Local and Overseas Training of Resident Doctors, the meeting adopted the provisions of the resolution reached on the subject at the meeting held from September 9-10, 2013 between the Government and the Nigerian Medical Association with NARD present.
It was also resolved that the Chief Medical Directors should as earlier stated, come up with the list of Resident Doctors as well as the amount of arrears owe each of them for necessary action by the Honourable Minister of Health within four weeks.
Another resolution was that NARD (FMC Owerri chapter) should suspend their ongoing one month old strike and appeal to the Honourable Minister of Health for the non compliance to section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act, CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
On the failure of Enugu State Government to implement the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) for NARD members at the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, it was agreed that the ultimatum issued to the Enugu State Government by NARD should be stepped down and that the association should subsequently write to inform the Enugu State Government of issues of concern to its members in the spirit of social dialogue.