NARD Strike: Some Unpaid Doctors Employed Without Due Process – Lawmaker
As the nationwide strike by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) enters its second week, a lawmaker has accused some of the medical professionals of coming into the system illegally.
Mr Yusuf Sununu, who represents Yauri/Shanga/Ngaski Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, says some of the unpaid resident doctors flouted the rules as a result of their illegal employment.
He made the allegation on Monday during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme – Sunrise Daily, where he highlighted some of the issues that led to the industrial action by the medical practitioners.
“It is the fact that they have been employed without following due process of the Federal Government and, therefore, the Office of the Head of Service says ‘you cannot come into the civil service through the back door,” the lawmaker gave as one of his reasons for unpaid salaries.
Sununu, who is also the House Committee Chairman on Health, made the remarks ahead of the meeting between the Federal Government and representatives of NARD scheduled to hold later on August 9.
He expects a favourable outcome at the end of the meeting in order to ensure the striking doctors return to work following a week of paralysed activities in most of the government-owned facilities in the country.
“The right thing must be done,” said the lawmaker who is also a medical doctor and a former national secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
“And the essence of the meeting is to find out how to do the right thing; how can we fast track it? And nobody is saying there is no fund for that … the issue and the problem are how did you enter the civil service?”
Yusuf was also critical of the present condition of the nation’s healthcare system, as well as the exodus of young and brilliant doctors from the country.
He believes while some of them are in pursuit of greener pastures, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a big blow on the nation.
“There are vacancies worldwide due to COVID-19 that has done so much mutilation to healthcare service delivery world over.
“Because of these vacancies, countries are now searching for countries with resilient health care structures in terms of human services of which Nigeria is one and we (Nigerians) can work in whatever circumstances we find ourselves,” the lawmaker said.
“For example, Saudi Arabia has lessened their visa processing fees for doctors and other health care workers from Nigeria, and they also give as a specialist allowance for wages negotiations … and they are also giving them space to have free education for spouses and two children.”
When asked if the National Assembly had a role to play in the funding of both man and machine in the health sector, he responded, “There is an issue in terms of communication and taking things serious of which NARD is aware of.”
On Friday last week, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had threatened to impose sanctions, including replacement of striking resident doctors should they refuse to return to work.
In its response, the NARD leadership blamed the lingering strike on the minister and others, with a call for their replacement for not doing their work.