NARD may call off strike before weekend, says Reps
The Chairman, House Committee on Health, Tanko Sununu, yesterday, expressed hope that the ongoing strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) would be called off before the week runs out.
He also urged the Ministry of Health to initiate payment of outstanding salary arrears of doctors as well as residency training funds for 2020 and 2021, as demanded by the aggrieved workers, so that the strike could be called off soon.
He spoke during a meeting of the Committee with Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, and the leadership of NARD at the National Assembly.
The Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, had informed the lawmakers that N5.42 billion meant for residency training for 2020 and 2021 was available and would be paid once relevant procedure is followed.
Following the disclosure, the lawmakers unanimously called on appropriate offices of government to immediately initiate payment.
As deliberations to find a lasting solution to the issue continued, NARD president, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, told the meeting in blunt terms that the strike would not be called off insisting: “Let everybody suffer the brain drain.”
He told the committee that if the 2015 and 2016 accumulative salaries and promotion arrears of about N28 billion were not paid, the strike would continue.
But the Committee and the Minister asked the NARD president to withdraw the statement, describing it as a threat. Okhuaihesuyi, eventually, withdrew the statement with an apology.
The Progressive Governors’ Forum, meanwhile, rose from an emergency meeting, yesterday, calling on NARD to suspend the strike.
The Forum, led by Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, argued that its position was in tandem with the call by the Federal Government, through Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, for an immediate suspension of the action, to make way for continued negotiations.
In a statement, the Forum threw its weight behind the initiative of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) aimed at addressing the doctors’ grievances.
Stressing that most of the doctors’ grievances are with state governments, the Forum called for negotiations with individual states, saying issues affecting their counterparts in federal establishments should be negotiated with the Federal Government.
This came as the University College Hospital (UCH) chapter of NARD berated the Rivers State chapter for calling off the strike.
Doctor Temitope Hussein, who is the NARD president, stated this while speaking with journalists in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Hussein said: “Resident doctors calling off their strike in Rivers State is not acceptable. It is a national body. The decision was taken by all the teaching hospitals at our National Executive Meeting in Umahia, Abia State. As we go on, NARD will issue an official statement to that effect. The national body will react appropriately. State teaching hospitals are part of NARD.”
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