THE Federal Government and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Thursday reached a truce on the ongoing strike by resident doctors as President, Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for additional N8,901,231,773.55 to pay for June 2020 Covid-19 hazard allowance to all health workers.
Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment disclosed this during a meeting with leaders of NARD in Abuja.
“President Buhari has approved additional N8,901,231,773.55 to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 Covid-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers, and the government would soon commence a review of a Permanent Hazard Allowance for all Health Workers after consultations by him with all stakeholders,” Ngige said.
During the meeting, Ngige noted that among all health professionals in the country, NARD has benefitted the most from the government.
“Out of the eight demands given to the government by the Resident Doctors, six of the demand have been met. It is painful that while efforts are being made to smoothing the remaining demands, you went on strike,” he said.
He said out of the eight demands raised by the striking doctors, six had been met while the remaining two were at advanced stages of implementation.
At the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Federal Government and the NARD that the association would consult with her Executive Council within 24 hours with a view to calling off the strike.
The MOU was signed by Sokomba Aliyu, NARD President, Bilqis Muhammad, Secretary General, Ekpe Philips Uche, Sec-Gen, NMA, and Ahmed Idris, Accountant-General of the Federation.
Others were: A. M. Abdullahi, Permanent Secretary, FMoH; Yerima P. Tarfa, Permanent Secretary, Labour & Employment; A. O. Mamora, Minister of State for Health; Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment and Ngige.
The government also gave the assurance that none of the doctors would be victimised for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action.
Ngige said NARD used a ‘gutter language’ when it said the government was ‘deceitful’ stating that a meeting with labour ministers in Africa revealed that Nigerian doctors are paid the highest.
“It is unfair to say that government is deceitful, it is a gutter language and you cannot use such words against the government,” the Minister said
According to him, freedom of association is not absolute especially in the period of national emergency, saying, ” if you go on strike and people die, you will be held responsible. Do not use the strike to intimidate the government.”
“Government has done more than enough and even before the COVID-19 government has done more than enough for the health system compared to the past governments, this government has done so much more.”
He accused the health workers of “bad mouthing” the government, wondering if they were “acting a script because that is the only conclusion that should be drawn from your action. ”
“You are asking us to go and force state governments to do some certain things…we cannot do that because health is on the concurrent list of the constitution,” Ngige said.