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In a statement signed by President and Secretary-General, Innocent Ujah and Philips Ekpe, respectively, and mailed to The ICIR on Saturday night, the NMA called on the government to settle with other doctors’ associations with which it had a crisis before the 21-day ultimatum expired.
The NMA, the parent association for NARD, and the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), have been responsible for skeletal services rendered by public health institutions in the country since NARD embarked on strike on August 2 over unmet demands by the government.
The NARD members are more than any other doctors’ group in the country. The association comprises medical graduates who undergo housemanship programme and those training for graduate medical education (GME) programme while working in hospitals.
In Nigeria, doctors on housemanship are those training preparatory to their participation in the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), and resident doctors are those who have completed the NYSC programme
In its statement titled ‘Nigerian Medical Association Affiliates Industrial Disputes with Federal Government,’ the NMA said it decided to issue the statement after its National Executive Council meeting, which ended on Saturday in Benin City, Edo State.
“After due consideration, NEC put the Federal Government on a 21 days’ notice to fully resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed with affiliate members of the Nigerian Medical Association (including MDCAN, MEDSABAMS (Medical and Dental Specialist Association in Basic Medical Sciences) and NARD).
“The Nigerian Medical Association fully supports all her affiliates in their efforts to improve the healthcare delivery in Nigeria and the welfare of her members.”
The NMA also said no doctor should be victimised for participating or failing to participate in the strike by NARD.
The association said it would summon an ’emergency delegate meeting’ to review the progress made on implementing the agreements, should the Federal Government fail to implement the agreements after the expiration of the notice.
On August 26, the Federal Government issued a memo threatening to invoke ‘no work, no pay’ policy on NARD.
The memo would also affect any health worker in the tertiary hospital proceeding on strike, the government said.
The Director of Department of Hospital Services Adebimpe Adebiyi signed the memo with reference number C. 5194/T/407 and addressed it to all chief medical directors and medical directors of tertiary hospitals.
The NARD resumed the strike it suspended in April on August 2, following the failure of the Federal Government to meet its demands.
It is also aggrieved with state governments of Ondo, Ekiti, Imo and Abia, which owe its members for months.
The Federal Government had a meeting with the doctors on Friday, August 20, to amicably resolve the crisis. However, the doctors refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding developed during the meeting with the government.
In a further attempt to get the doctors back to work, the Federal Government approached the National Industrial Court to order the doctors back to work.
The court, on Monday August 23, directed the doctors to return to work to allow the government to continue to seek means of meeting their demands.
However, the doctors said the government must meet their demands before they could return to work.
Some of the doctors’ demands include: reversal by the government, the circular from the head of service of the federation which removed house officers from the scheme of service; increase in hazard allowance for doctors beyond N5,000; payment of doctors who are being owed by state and federal governments; and payment of the National Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustment to some of the doctors by the government.
Others are: the domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017 by state governments; recruitment of more doctors by the government to reduce workload in hospitals, and payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance to all the doctors working in federal and state health facilities.
The ICIR had, on Thursday, reported how doctors who said they could no longer bear the pains of working in hospitals in the country thronged a recruitment centre in Abuja for onward migration to Saudi Arabia.
The Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige who issued the ‘no work, no pay’ memo on the doctors is also a doctor, who served in various capacities at the Federal Ministry of Health before he retired and joined politics.
He has been variously criticised for making utterances and taking decisions that put the medical practice in a bad light in the country.