Go Back To Work While We Continue Negotiations, Ngige Urges Striking Doctors

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has appealed to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to shelve their industrial action as the Federal Government continues to negotiate with the union to end the dispute.

Ngige made the appeal during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, as the resident doctors strike enters Day 59.

“I want to appeal to NARD for them to reconsider their position, get back to work tomorrow or next and then come back again for discussions. We have so many things to discuss,” Ngige said.

“I have nephews who are resident doctors. I have three of them at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, UNTH Enugu, Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu. I have so many of them. I have a son who will graduate in Medicine in October. I cannot destroy the profession, I have to protect the profession too.”

The Minister also reacted to the court case filed by the Federal Government against the striking doctors.

According to Ngige, it is the Federal Ministry of Health and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation that can withdraw the case from court.

“The court has ruled and said ‘Go and do some more settlement but meanwhile, you go back to work and continue the settlement’,” he added.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Resident Doctors To Suspend Industrial Action

Logo of the National Association of resident Doctors (NARD).

 

Despite the National Industrial Court’s ruling ordering the striking doctors to return to work, the Minister asked the plaintiffs – Health Ministry and Attorney General’s office as well as the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and NARD to approach the Labour Ministry to press their demands.

While noting that he had advised his colleague in the Health Ministry, Dr Osagie Ehanire “to see what he can do so that the discussion will set off,” Ngige said he had always advocated for settlement.

Ngige’s comments come two days after the National Industrial Court ordered resident doctors to suspend their strike action and go back to work, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Justice Bashar Alkali gave the order on Friday while ruling on an application by the Federal Government.

But the striking doctors have faulted the court’s ruling, vowing to appeal the order.

“As we are all aware, especially those that were present in court today (Friday), the NIC has given a ruling on the application for interlocutory injunction filed by the Federal Government,” the association said via a statement. “We are not satisfied with the ruling.

“After consultations with our lawyers, we have instructed our lawyers to appeal the ruling and file an application for stay of execution.”

NARD Gives Condition For Calling Off Strike, Says FG Owing Seven Months’ Salary

 

President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, has yet again accused the Federal Government of owing salaries of up to seven months.

Okhuaihesuyi who was a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, said this while reiterating that the government had failed to meet its commitment under their agreement.

He, therefore, outlined several conditions to be met before the union will call off its ongoing strike.

“It has been seasons of recurrent strikes because one group has failed to honour the agreement made,” he said.

“First, our minimum requirement; we want all members on Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) to be paid – we are talking about five to seven months’ salary, up till now, and nothing is done about it.

READ ALSO: NARD Strike: FG Insists No Doctor Is Being Owed Monthly Salary

“114 house officers are still not being paid. We signed a document over 151 days ago. The association of resident doctors is saying the time for a change in the medical sector is now.”

The NARD President is not eager to hold talks with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, and the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire. Rather, he echoed his previous call for both ministers to resign or be fired.

“We do not want to negotiate with the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Health. We actually think that for Nigeria to have a better Health Sector, those people have to go.

The NARD President also countered the claim by the ministers that the demands of the striking doctors that concerns the Federal Government have been met.

“The minimum wage adjustment allowance is still not paid,” he said, for example. “The Trustfund of 2014, 2015, 2016 are not being met and you come on air to say virtually all demands have been met.”

NARD has been on strike for the past 37 days.

Kwara Doctors Threaten To Withdraw Service 

Kwara is a state in Western Nigeria
Kwara is a state in west-central Nigeria

 

Kwara doctors under the aegis of the Nigeria Association of Government Medical and Dental Practitioners, (NAGMDP) Kwara Chapter have threatened to withdraw their services across the state over poor remuneration and conditions of service.

The group issued the threat via a letter addressed to the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq which was sighted by Channels Television on Tuesday.

“If our demands are not met by Monday 13th of September 2021, we shall have no alternative than to withdraw the service of our members across all the hospitals in the state,” the letter signed by the association’s Chairman, Saka Agboola and Secretary Ayinde Musa, partly read.

Following its emergency meeting on August 20, the doctors said there was the need for the Kwara State Government to better reposition the conditions of service of their colleagues.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: FG Considers Action Against People Who Refuse Vaccines

According to them, the move is necessary, in order to prevent the imminent collapse of the health care system in our state.

The association also insisted that the state government must recruit more medical officers in addition to the constant replacement of those that are resigning on a daily basis.

“There should be the provision of adequate security in all of our hospitals to avoid breaking down of laws and order by a patient and their relatives.

“The state government should provide patient-relatives building in hospitals, where relatives can be in comfort, while health workers take care of their relatives on admission,” the group added.

The association also called for payment of COVID-19 allowance to members and other health care workers, as well as provision of a vehicle and housing loan facility at single digit interest rate to all members as a way of motivation and retention in service.

[UPDATE] FG Rejects 21-Day Ultimatum Issued By NMA

NMA logo

 

The Ministry of Labour and Employment has rejected the 21-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government by the Nigeria Medical Association saying it is in direct collision with the Memorandum of Understanding signed on August 21.

The NMA had threatened to join the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors if the government failed to resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed with its affiliate unions.

But reacting on Sunday evening, to the threat in a statement titled, ‘Labour Ministry to NMA: Your 21-Day Ultimatum in Collision With Our MoU,’ the government argued that the NMA’s position was at variance with the timeline stated in the Memorandum of Agreement.

Read Also: NMA Issues FG 21-Day Ultimatum To Resolve Industrial Disputes With NARD, Others

This ultimatum was part of the resolutions reached during its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, held in Benin City last week.

“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, and NARD),” the statement jointly signed by its President, Prof Innocent AO Ujah and Secretary, Dr. Philips Uche Ekpe, read.

According to the doctors, if the Federal Government fails to implement the agreements after the expiration of the 21- day notice, the NMA will summon an emergency delegate meeting.

NMA’s ultimatum is the latest in the lingering tussle between the Nigerian government and NARD which has gone on strike since July 31.

Despite a series of meetings between the Federal Government and the striking doctors, no resolution has been reached.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had in the wake of the disagreements threatened to invoke the “no-work, no pay” rule on NARD.

But the NMA has thrown its weight behind the striking doctors and other health workers.

“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,” it assured.

NMA Issues FG 21-Day Ultimatum To Resolve Industrial Disputes With NARD, Others

NMA logo

 

 

The Nigerian Medical Association has issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to resolve all lingering industrial actions with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, and other affiliate members.

This ultimatum is part of the resolutions reached during its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, held in Benin City.

“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, and NARD),” the statement jointly signed by its President, Prof Innocent AO Ujah and Secretary, Dr. Philips Uche Ekpe, read.

READ ALSO: Two Children ‘Abducted’ From Lagos By Nanny Rescued In Benin-City

According to the doctors, if the Federal Government fails to implement the agreements after the expiration of the 21- day notice, the NMA will summon an emergency delegate meeting.

“In the event that the FG fails to implement the agreements after the expiration of the 21 days’ notice, NMA shall summon an emergency delegate meeting to review the progress made on the implementation of the agreements,” the NMA added.

Full Support

NMA’s ultimatum is the latest in the lingering tussle between the Nigerian government and NARD which has gone on strike since July 31.

Despite a series of meetings between the Federal Government and the striking doctors, no resolution has been reached.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had in the wake of the disagreements threatened to invoke the “no-work, no pay” rule on NARD.

But the NMA has thrown its weight behind the striking doctors and other health workers.

“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,” it assured.

“NEC affirms that no doctor shall be victimized for participating/not participating in the strike action by NARD.”

 

Oil Marketers Call Off Strike In Imo

Map of Imo state

 

Oil marketers under the auspices of the Association of Petroleum Marketers and Dealers have called off their three-day industrial action.

The group had on Wednesday embarked on strike following unsettled issues and differences with the state government which has lasted for a long time.

The association also accused some state government agencies of harassment and intimidation of its members over multiple taxation, illegal charges, and deliberate attempt to frustrate petroleum marketers in the state by clamping down on their business premises without notice.

Following the untold hardships, residents of the state were subjected to as a result of the hike in transport fares by the few commercial vehicles and motorcycle operators on the road, the state government begged the oil markets to sheathe their swords.

The Commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba, said the action of the oil marketers is illegal and uncalled for.

He explained that the court ruling that favored the Petroleum tanker drivers against the state government has already been appealed by the State Government. Asking them to call off the strike in the interest of Imo people

But in a statement issued on Friday by its Vice Chairman, Chimodo Martin, the group said that the decision to call off the strike followed the assurance by the state government to look into their complaints.

He also explained that the oil marketers considered the suffering of the people of the state since the industrial action commenced.

In our last meeting with the State Government presided over by the Secretary to the Government of Imo State, the SGI assured the PTD and MARKETERS that their complaint will be resolved within two weeks from the date of the meeting,” the statement partly read.

“Series of meetings have been held involving the state government, DPR, DSS, PTD branch of NUPENG, Association of Imo Petroleum Marketers and Dealers and some security agencies in the state.

“Relying on the above promise the government and the intervention of the DSS, Imo Petroleum Marketers and Dealers have suspended the industrial action forthwith.”

Striking Doctors Refuse To Sign New MoU With FG After Six-Hour Meeting

Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021.
Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021. Friday Okeregbe/Channels Television

 

The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has refused assent to a new memorandum of understanding brokered by the Nigeria Medical Association to end the three weeks old strike that has crippled medical services in government hospitals across the country.

NARD President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, declined his assent owing to an undisclosed clause.

According to Okhuaihesuyi, NARD’s leadership has to consult with members of the association before he appends his signature.

READ ALSO: FG, Striking Doctors Meet Again In Abuja

Addressing journalists after the over six hours closed-door meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said all other unions in the negotiation, including the Nigeria Medical Association and the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria, signed the new agreement, having agreed on all the issues raised.

Meanwhile, the minister also clarified that the meeting did not discuss the issues of ‘no work, no pay,’ but said all parties at the meeting agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

The Federal Government had taken the striking doctors to court last week, as it asked the National Industrial Court to mandate the doctors to return to work.

The hearing on the case was adjourned to September 15.

The doctors had embarked on a strike on August 2, citing unpaid benefits and other issues.

While the industrial action lingered, the Federal Government threatened to enforce a ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

Medical Consultants To Meet Over Planned Strike As Govt Fails To Meet Demands

MDCAN President, Professor Ken Ozoilo, speaking during an interview with Channels Television on August 13, 2021.

 

The Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) are considering whether to embark on industrial action, ahead of a planned meeting on Sunday.

President of the association, Professor Ken Ozoilo, disclosed this to Channels Television on Friday in Abuja during an exclusive interview.

This comes as Nigerians struggle for medical treatment across government facilities amid the ongoing nationwide strike by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

The senior medical practitioners had issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Federal Government, which is set to expire on August 16.

“MDCAN issued an ultimatum to (the) government – a 21-day ultimatum that is going to expire on Monday,” Ozoilo told Channels Television. “This ultimatum is to give leeway for … a resolution of the issues at hand.

“Of course, if this is achieved, there will be no reason to proceed on strike. Our requests were very specific and I will say that what we have achieved thus far … were far from resolution at this point in time.”

The association is protesting a circular from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) directing the removal of its members from the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), among other demands.

According to the MDCAN president, the government has failed to meet the demands made by the medical association.

He stated that the leadership of the union has had several communications with the government on the matter and other issues, but there has been no solution in sight.

A team of doctors carrying out surgery on a patient.

‘Take A Decision’

Professor Ozoilo insisted that the government has yet to address the concerns that led to the ultimatum issued by the medical professionals, saying that their next move would be revealed after the meeting.

“Of course, you know that the primary among our demands is the withdrawal of the letter written by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) that directed universities that were remunerating their clinical lecturers on CONMESS to desist from that practice,” he said.

“This is the immediate cause and other issues have been there. The National Executive Council of our association is going to meet on Sunday.

“We have an emergency NEC meeting where we will x-ray the progress that’s so far made and take a decision.”

NARD strike

The industrial action by the resident doctors, which has run into a second week, has crippled activities and left patients stranded in many government-owned hospitals in the country.

Members of the association had gone on strike in protest against the irregularities in the payment of salaries to house officers, among other issues.

They also accused the government of failing to fulfill its promise to members of the association who died of COVID-19 in the line of duty.

The strike began a week after President Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria for the United Kingdom where he participated in the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-2025.

After the summit, he stayed back in London for an earlier scheduled medical check-up before returning to the country on Friday.

NARD Strike: Some Unpaid Doctors Employed Without Due Process – Lawmaker

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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.

Strike: Ngige, Ehanire Are The Ones That Should Be Sacked – NARD President

 

President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, has said that the people who deserve to resign or be sacked from their duties are those who have put the doctors in a position where they have to embark on industrial actions to drive home their demands.

Okhuaihesuyi who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics Today, said this in reaction to comments by the Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, about replacing the striking doctors.

The Minister on Friday, had said that he had invoked Section 43 of the Labour Law which states, in part, that for the period a worker withdraws his services, the government or his employers are not entitled to pay.

“Their employer has a right to replace them. It doesn’t matter what you want to term it. We can use Locum doctors or medical officers,” he added.

But in reaction, the NARD president said: “I want to ask Nigerians to tell those that are the cause of the strike and have not done their work that they should be sacked or resign from the positions they hold”.

When asked who those persons are, he said: “The Minister of health, the Minister of Labour, the NDCM Registrar, Sanusi; they are the ones that should be held responsible for the strike we are on and something needs to be done to them. If they can do that to them, then they can implement the no-work no-pay policy”.

Read Also: Ngige Threatens To Replace Striking Resident Doctors

Monday marks the expiration of the one-week ultimatum given by the Labour Minister for the striking doctors to resume work.

Their failure to resume would result in the escalation of other measures by the minister.

“Next week, I will escalate it because the conciliation has failed and the law says that if conciliation fails on my own side, I can move it up.

“There are other things that are permitted by law. I will invoke other things,” Ngige had vowed on Friday.

But the NARD President has insisted that the strike will continue “fully and indefinitely”.

“You can’t be threatening someone when you have not done your part,” Okhuaihesuyi stressed.

Why I Won’t Meet With Striking Resident Doctors – Labour Minister

 

The Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, has said that he will not be meeting with the striking resident doctors.

According to the minister who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, he has better use of his time.

“I have other things to do,” he said, adding, “I did two conciliations again yesterday, am I going to keep wasting time with them?”.

“As of the 22nd (of July), they said they were happy, they were praising me, saying I am kind, I am compassionate, advising public servants in Nigeria to behave like me. Where government officials are wrong, I tell them, and I give them an ultimatum and time frame to perfect whatever it is, so why do you go on strike one week after?” Ngige questioned.

Reacting to the doctors’ stance that the strike which commenced on Monday, will be indefinite, the minister said “No problem! I have other tools permitted for me by labour laws. I invoked section 43 this afternoon”.

Section 43 of the Labour Act states, in part, that for the period a worker withdraws his services, the government or his employers are not entitled to pay.

“I have communicated it to NARD,” Ngige said, stressing that “they will not receive money for the period they are on strike and it will never count as a period for pensionable position in their career”.

As essential workers, the minister also maintained that they are not expected to go on strike without notifying him at least 15 days prior.

[Read Also] Strike: Stand Up To Your Responsibilities, Resident Doctors Tell FG

“They are taking government for a ride and they are playing with people’s lives,” he added.

While the doctors continue to call on the government to fully take up its responsibilities, the Federal Government continues to insist that most of the issues they have raised are state affairs.

Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire had told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that seven of 12 matters that were raised by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), were the responsibility of state governments.

Consequently, he expects the resident doctors to resume work on Friday and take up the issues with the state governments rather than embark on the nationwide strike as they had done.

But speaking on behalf of resident doctors on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, NARD President Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi criticised the Federal Government for failing to do its own job but rather blaming the doctors for embarking on industrial action.

“You can’t have signed an agreement with everything you have said and since 2nd of August when the strike commenced you haven’t called us,” he said.

Strike: Stand Up To Your Responsibilities, Resident Doctors Tell FG

A file photo of medical doctors during a protest.

 

President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi has asked the Federal Government to stand up to its responsibilities and pay the salaries of the striking doctors.

Speaking on behalf of resident doctors on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, Dr. Okhuaihesuyi criticised the Federal Government for failing to do its own job but rather blaming the doctors for embarking on industrial action.

“You can’t have signed an agreement with everything you have said and since 2nd of August when the strike commenced you haven’t called us,” he said during the show.

“The first thing you’re telling us is that we signed a document we are not honouring it, we need to resume work. They need to stand up to their responsibilities.”

He said that the Federal Government had mentioned that 46 resident doctors had been paid the “Death In Service Insurance but you are aware that we lost 19 members to COVID-19 and up till now no member has been paid.

“That is not state government; it is Federal Government because we know that most states do not even have health insurance for health workers or our members.”

READ ALSO: FG Asks Resident Doctors To Resume Work, Says States Are Responsible For Most Of Their Demands

He insisted that most of the doctors in the federal-owned teaching hospitals have not been paid “between 3-6 months salaries”.

A State Affair?

President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi

 

Despite the doctors’ insistence, the Federal Government is telling them to return to the hospitals.

The Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire in a briefing on Thursday asked them to resume work the following day as most of the issues they have raised are state affairs.

Dr. Ehanire said that seven of 12 matters that were raised by the striking doctors were the responsibility of state governments.

Consequently, he expects the resident doctors to resume work on Friday and take up these issues with the state governments rather than embark on the nationwide strike as they had done.

Some of the issues raised by the medical practitioners include the immediate payment of all salaries owed to all house officers, including March salaries (regardless of quota system) before the end of business on March 31.

They are also asking for an upward review of the hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, especially in state-owned-tertiary institutions.