BARELY two weeks after it embarked on an indefinite industrial action, the Nigerian Association of Residents Doctors (NARD) said it will proceed on peaceful protests from Wednesday, August 9, 2023, if the Federal Government does not meet its demands.
The NARD declared an indefinite strike on Wednesday, July 26, after the expiration of a two-week ultimatum earlier issued to the government. The association will now be picketing the Federal Ministry of Health, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, and the federal and state tertiary health institutions to communicate their grievances and concerns.
This was contained in a circular titled, ‘Notice of nationwide mass protests and picketing by NARD,’ and addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Olufunso Adebiyi. The circular was signed by the President of the association, Emeka Orji, and the Secretary General of the association, Dr Kelechi Chikezie.
The Federal Government had, on July 28, approved the payment of N25,000 peculiar allowance for the medical and dental doctors in hospitals, medical centres and clinics in the federal public service.
“The Federal Government has approved the payment of an accoutrement allowance of N25,000 per quarter to medical and dental doctors in hospitals, medical centres, and clinics in the federal public service. The allowance is to be paid from the overhead budget.
“The approval takes effect from June 1, 2023. All inquiries relating to this circular should be directed to the commission.”
This development was, however, rejected by the striking lecturer, insisting that their earlier demand was for full restoration of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CMSS) to its right value at the time of the approval of the structure in 2009.
The NARD made its position known in a communique issued on Saturday, July 29, after the association’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lagos.
Reacting to this, the Federal Government threatened ‘no work, no pay’ for the doctors. The Director of Hospital Services, FMOH, listed some of NARD’s key demands in a letter titled “Re: Incessant Strike Action” as immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund, a minimum 200% increment in Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, and an upward review of associated allowances.
Meanwhile, NARD, in a circular released today, said despite repeated ultimatums, its ‘parent’ ministry and the Federal Government have chosen to demonise Nigerian resident doctors.
The circular read in part, “We wish to bring to your notice the decision of the National Executive Council of NARD to embark on daily peaceful protests and picketing of the Federal Ministry of Health, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, as well as all federal and state tertiary health institutions nationwide, with effect from Wednesday, August 9, 2023, by 10 am.
“This has become necessary to press home our demands which have been largely neglected by our parent ministry and the Federal Government. We are pained that rather than make genuine and concerted efforts to resolve the challenges that led to the industrial action despite repeated ultimatums, our parent ministry and the Federal Government have chosen to demonise Nigerian resident doctors instead, after all, their sacrifices and patriotism.
“We, therefore, resolved that it is time the whole world hears our side of the story – the decay and corruption in the health sector, as well as the neglect the public health institutions have suffered all these years that led to repeated industrial actions.
“We believe that the government still has time to genuinely address the issues at stake before Wednesday, 9th August 2023, or leave us with no other option.”
The doctors are demanding immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), release of the circular on one-for-one replacement, payment of skipping arrears, and upward review of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) in line with full salary restoration to the 2014 value of CONMESS.
The doctors also want immediate massive recruitment of clinical staff in the hospitals and abolishment of the bureaucratic limitations to the immediate replacement of doctors and nurses who leave the system.
Other demands are payment of the arrears of consequential adjustment of the minimum wage to the omitted doctors, reversal of the downgrading of the membership certificate by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), payment of new hazard allowance, skipping and implementation of corrected CONMESS in State Tertiary Health Institutions, and payment of omitted hazard allowance arrears.