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Strike: Crisis erupts among doctors over visit to Buhari

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A cold war is brewing between the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) and its parent organization, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

The two bodies are at each other’s throats over the latter’s recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a letter mailed to The ICIR on Tuesday, the NMA accused NARD of making “mischievous” comments over its visit to the president.

The association said NARD was unhappy because it was not part of the team that met Buhari.

The NMA also alleged that NARD had “consistently refused to carry the parent body along in her critical decision-making processes.” 

In the statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary Aniekeme Uwah, the NMA said its constitution did not compel it to go with NARD whenever it made such a visit.

Reacting to the letter, the NARD president said he didn’t hear from the NMA that its leaders would visit Buhari.

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He said the meeting would have allowed him to table NARD’s demands before the president.

NARD has been on strike for 44 days across the country over unmet demands.

Okhuaihesuyi said he was not at war with the NMA. “He (NMA president) is my senior; he is my teacher. Why will I have a war against him? What I’m interested in is to get the government to pay the salaries of my people,” he said.

He added that the NMA called NARD for a meeting last Saturday (a day after meeting Buhari), and his group disagreed with the NMA’s position.

In its letter, the NMA said it was the custom of its newly-elected leaders to visit the nation’s president.

The ICIR reports that the NMA elected its leaders, headed by Innocent Ujah, a professor who visited Buhari 16 months ago (May 2020), and the leaders serve a two-year term.

In its statement titled “The Visit of NMA to President Buhari: Matters Arising”, the senior doctors said, “the visit to the State House was the first by the present National Officers Committee (NOC) since her election on May 30, 2020. 

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“The visit, though delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged humanity, especially in 2020, was in line with the tradition of newly elected Officers of the association to pay a courtesy call on the President of the country after their election.”

The NMA said the composition of delegation of such visits was exclusively a prerogative of its president and could be extended to include other members of the association depending on the number approved by the State House protocol officials.

Protocol officers at the State House restricted the visitors to only 15 members to allow for social distancing in line with the COVID-19 pandemic control protocols, the NMA said.

“Therefore, the allegation by the president of (ÑARD), one of the eight affiliates of the association that he was sidelined, is incorrect and mischievous, therefore should be taken with a pinch of salt.

“Rather, if such insinuations should be made, it should be the other way round as the president of the said affiliate has consistently refused to carry the parent body along in her critical decision-making processes,” the NMA claimed.

Nevertheless, the NMA said the accusations would continue to work for the overall interests of all doctors’ groups in the country.

It also called on any tier of government that had not met NARD’s demands to do so.

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The NARD has been on strike since August 2, and all efforts to persuade or compel it back to work, including a court order to that effect, have been futile.

Following a meeting convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment with NARD on August 21, the NMA, which was present at the meeting, signed an MoU on behalf of NARD.

But NARD walked away from the meeting when called to sign the agreement and disowned the agreement.

In what the section of the Nigerian public saw as a further demonstration of its support for the striking doctors, the NMA had a fortnight ago given the Federal Government a 21-day ultimatum to meet NARD’s demands, failure of which the association said it would decide on appropriate action(s) to take against the government.

 

 

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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