Resident Doctors Insist Strike Continues

Resident Doctors, NARDThe National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) insists its strike continues until congress takes decision on the outcome of the meeting with the House of Representatives.

The President of NARD, Dr. Muhammed Askira, made the statement while addressing reporters on Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He was reacting to the statement made by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, that both parties had agreed to sheath their swords after Tuesday’s meeting with the lawmakers.

“If you interpret the statement of the Minister to mean that the strike is over, then you are wrong,” the medic said.

Dr. Askira commended the lawmakers for their intervention on the lingering issues between NARD and the government.

He explained that the organ of the association that declared the strike would have to meet on Friday before any decision on whether or not to call off the strike.

This comes just as the Registrar of the National Postgraduate Medical College, Professor Oluwole Atoyebi, said the Nigerian government has not sacked any doctor from Federal Tertiary Health Institutions.Prof_Atoyebi

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Professor Atoyebi said: “while the resident doctors have been told to suspend the strike, the Ministry has been told by the Speaker ((of the House of Representatives) to rest the directive, for now, and that has been agreed by all parties”.

House Of Reps Hopeful Of Imminent End To Doctors Strike

Resident DoctorsThe House of Representatives in Nigeria is hopeful that the industrial action embarked on by the National Association of Resident Doctors will be called off in the next few days.

Lawmakers are intervening in the faceoff between the representatives of the Ministry of Health and the leaders of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

Their intervention appears to have been productive, with the Chairman of the House Committee on Health Institutions, Betty Apiafi, seeing a possible resolution in coming days.

The lawmakers expressed their confidence on Tuesday after a five-hour meeting convened by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, with a Federal Government delegation and leaders of the NARD.

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, told reporters that they had agreed to sheath their swords in the interest of Nigerians.

The President of the NARD, Muhammed Askira, however, said the strike had not been put off yet.

This is coming just as the Federal Government has asked heads of Government Tertiary Health Institutions to replace doctors that have abandoned their duties in protest of what they called poor welfare.

Residents doctors at the Federal Government’s institutions have downed tools after the association asked them to stay away from work in protest of poor welfare.

Resident Doctors Explain Reasons For Ultimatum

Nigerian DoctorsThe President of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD), Muhammed Askira, says the ultimatum given to the Federal Government by the association is due to government’s delay in meeting the demands of the resident doctors.

The doctors had given a 21-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to address their issues or face a nationwide strike.

‘Remuneration Injustice’

Dr. Askira was the guest of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday and he explained that the issues were mainly about their Residency Training Programme and what he called ‘Remuneration Injustice’.

Mr Askira explained that over the years, the Residency Training Programme had not been provided with a template or guiding policy that was uniformly applied in all the training institutions.

“There is no uniform template for employment, there are no enough spaces for intake of resident doctors and also the National Postgraduate College that is supposed to be coordinating the activities and accreditation of the training institutions is not adequately funded,” he said.

The implication, according to him, is that training institutions and resident doctors have had to scramble for funds to sponsor resident doctors for update courses.

“If you look at it, the residency training programme, as the only postgraduate medical training programme in Nigeria for producing medical specialists, not funded is not acceptable,” he added.

He further disclosed that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund), which was set aside by previous governments, had not been covering the medical profession.

He appealed to the present administration to come to the aid of the NARD.

Dr. Askira cited the salary challenges being faced by their members working for state governments as another issue the association wants addressed.

He mentioned Osun, Oyo, Imo and Abia as states where their members have spent between three to eight months without their salaries.

Referring to Osun State as the worst, he wondered why the state government would not heed the cries of the doctors who had been considerate enough not to down tools during a period when all workers in the state did.

“When the bailout came, the government settled the backlog of the salaries of all workers and when they found out they could not continue paying the salaries, what is the normal thing to do? You call everybody to have an understanding.

“The government saw reasons to call only the other workers and not the resident doctors in LAUTECH and with the other workers they now agreed to a percentage of salaries, just for the resident doctors to wake up in July and find 46% of their salaries (unpaid).”

Before the Ultimatum

Asked if there had been efforts to resolve the issues with government before the issuance of an ultimatum, Dr Askira said that the association was left with no option, as every attempt to bring the Federal Government to the negotiation table failed.

“Since I assumed office on September 15 last year till today, as I am talking to you, there is no single working day that I am not in Abuja. I am primarily employed in Maiduguri, doing a posting in Kano but I am always in Abuja.

“Sometimes I go into some of the offices and they would not even allow me in and I would sit down and wait for them. Simply because of one fact, we want to see that constructive engagement takes precedence to dispute but at times you have no choice.

“This ultimatum is supposed to have even come since October last year but our members showed restraint, maturity because when we heard the President of the country saying impatience is not a virtue, we say patience is a virtue, lets be patient.

“There was even a circular from the same ministry saying that some of these things would be implemented by January 2016 and we waited till January.

“We delayed, constructively engaging them until now when we found out that unfortunately maybe these people are just like the old ones who understand only ultimatum and strike,” he said.

On Thursday, President Muhammadu  Buhari urged the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to shelve its threatened strike and give the Federal Government more time to address the  doctor’s grievances.

President Buhari made the appeal at a meeting with the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Abuja.

He gave the doctors an assurance that no agreements duly entered into by the Federal Government would be dishonoured by his administration.