Resident Doctors Suspend Nationwide Strike

President of National Association of Resident Doctors, Aliyu Sokomba.
President of National Association of Resident Doctors, Aliyu Sokomba.

 

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has suspended its nationwide strike with immediate effect from Monday, June 22.

In a communique issued on Sunday, the association said the decision to suspend the industrial action followed a virtual meeting of over 300 of its members.

NARD President, Aliyu Sokomba said the National Executive Council decided to suspend the strike in order to give the Federal and State Governments time to fulfill the outstanding demands of the association.

READ ALSO: Akeredolu Allegedly Orders CP To Prevent Deputy From Exiting Govt House

According to him, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi had intervened in the matter.

The organisation had called the strike over a range of issues, including the ‘grossly inadequate’ provision of protective equipment and calls for hazard pay for those working on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Other demands focused on improving general welfare and protesting dismissals or pay cuts for doctors in two regions.

Strikes by medical practitioners are common in the country, where the health sector has been underfunded for years.

The authorities fear that any reduction in capacity could severely hamper its ability to tackle the pandemic as the number of cases continues to rise.

The main nationwide doctors union briefly staged a warning strike in commercial hub Lagos over police harassment of its members.

At the moment, Nigeria has recorded nearly 20,000 cases and 506 deaths since the first index case of the virus in February.

More than 800 health workers have been infected by the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

 

 

Meeting Between FG, Resident Doctors Ends In Deadlock

 

The meeting between the Federal Government delegation and the National Association of Resident Doctors on Tuesday ended in a deadlock.

The striking doctors refused to reconvene after a brief recess and their president, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, told Channels Television that they are not ready to shift position until their demands are met.

However, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige insists that the meeting was successful, as most of the demands are being resolved

He later noted that the representatives of the striking doctors have informed them that their members do not agree with the resolutions from the meeting so far, and as such cannot call off the strike until some tangible evidence of commitment from the government is received.

Also speaking, the Minister of Health says the government has the obligation to protect the health of citizens, and since the doctors are not ready to resume, certain steps must be taken.

He also noted that a circular has been sent out to all government hospitals to open a register from Wednesday, to take note of doctors that will resume for work.

The register closes by 12:00 pm.

Read Also: Gbajabiamila Urges Resident Doctors To Reconsider Strike Action

This comes days after the doctors embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike.

According to Sokomba, the union took the decision to go on strike as a result of the failed series of meetings between the doctors and the Federal Government in the last two weeks.

He said the meetings have failed to resolve the lingering industrial disputes which include the non-payment of special allowances for the resident doctors.

He also decried the deplorable state of hospitals and the lack of protective equipment for members of the union treating COVID-19 patients.

Dr Sokomba added that this has exposed many of their colleagues to coronavirus and resulted in the death of some of them.

Resident Doctors Embark On Indefinite Strike

A file photo of a health official helping his colleague with his PPE.

 

 

Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike.

NARD President, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, announced this while addressing a press conference on Monday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

He noted that the union has decided to exempt its members working in various coronavirus (COVID-19) isolation and treatment centres across the country.

This followed the virtual extra-ordinary National Executive Council meeting of the association held on Sunday.

Dr Sokomba, however, stated that exemption of the members attending to COVID-19 patients was for two weeks before they join the industrial action.

He explained that the union took the decision to go on strike as a result of the failed series of meetings between the doctors and the Federal Government in the last two weeks.

According to the NARD president, the meetings have failed to resolve the lingering industrial disputes which include the non-payment of special allowances for the resident doctors.

He also decried the deplorable state of hospitals and the lack of protective equipment for members of the union treating COVID-19 patients.

Dr Sokomba added that this has exposed many of their colleagues to coronavirus and resulted in the death of some of them.

The doctors embark on the industrial action after they warned last week that they would take what they described as “the painful decision” following the inability of the government to meet their demands.

All resident doctors, medical officers below the rank of Principal Medical Officer (PMO), and House Officers across all the Federal and State Hospitals in Nigeria are expected to join the strike.

The association asked the government to make alternative arrangements for the care of patients, including those at the COVID-19 isolation centres as its members there would join the industrial action in two weeks’ time.

Its demands include the provision of adequate PPE for all healthcare workers and immediate reversal of the disengagement of all 26 resident doctors at the University Teaching Hospital in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

Others are the universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State Hospitals and ensuring pay parity among doctors of equal cadre.

The doctors also asked the government to implement the revised hazard and payment of agreed COVID-19 inducement allowances, as well as stop and immediately refund all cuts in salaries of their colleagues in Kaduna and other states.

Gbajabiamila Intervenes In Planned Strike By Resident Doctors

Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila (right), meets with top officials of the Ministry of Health, the Nigerian Medical Association and the National Association of Resident Doctors to avert the planned strike by the union. Credit: Speaker’s Office

 

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over its planned industrial action.

This is according to a statement issued on Tuesday and signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi.

The statement indicates that the speaker held a meeting with the association and officials of the Federal Ministry of Health at the National Assembly to resolve all pending issues.

At the end of the three-hour meeting, Gbajabiamila said the leadership of the House would not fold its arms while resident doctors embark on strike at this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

The union had issued an ultimatum to embark on strike next week Monday following what it said was government’s inability to fulfil certain obligations as agreed in a memorandum of understanding.

Part of the issues in contention as narrated by the chairman of the House Committee on Healthcare Services, Tanko Sununu, were outstanding payments on hazard allowance, arbitrary disengagement of 23 doctors at the University of Jos Teaching Hospital.

Others include the non-provision of life insurance despite the death of some doctors from COVID-19, non-provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs), reduction of doctors’ salary by the Kaduna State Government, doctors’ residency training, among others.

The Speaker begged the union to “tarry a while as government was working assiduously to meet their entitlements, but noted that the House could not intervene in the issue of doctors in Kaduna State as it is not under its jurisdiction.”

Gbajabiamila said that if need be, the House would come up with a law that would not only back the payment of hazard allowance but would also define same for clarity.

“As a House, we’ll keep taking steps to avoid strikes. This meeting will give us the opportunity to holistically address the issues at stake.

“Let us agree on one thing: that at this time, we can’t afford to allow our doctors go on strike. Let us agree that their welfare is a priority,” he said.

According to him, the issues of hazard allowance was captured in the supplementary budget before the House.

While assuring the resident doctors of the Federal Government’s commitment in resolving the issues raised, the Speaker said: “I want you to understand that government is doing its best to meet your entitlement.”

Gbajabiamila also assured that the resident doctors’ training would be captured in the 2021 budget whether it is included in the ministry’s budget.

On his part, NERD President, Dr Sokomba Aliyu said he would get back to the national executive of the association and relate the Speaker’s intervention to them.

Although Aliyu did not give a direct commitment on the suspension of the planned strike, he however maintained that he would communicate their decision to the House.

Labour, ASUU Disagree Over Legality Of Warning Strike

A photo combination of Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo and ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi.
A photo combination of Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo and ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi.

 

The Ministry of Labour and the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), have disagreed over the legality of the ongoing strike.

Speaking at a meeting with the leadership of the House of Representatives on Thursday, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, said the ministry has not received any notice of strike from ASUU.

He noted that the Trade Dispute Act requires that ASUU give 15 days notice before embarking on any strike, hence it is an illegal strike.

Mr Keyamo further stated that the government is not officially aware of the demands of ASUU.

However, according to Mr. Keyamo, the government has invited ASUU for negotiations later today (Thursday) and progress will be reported back to the Speaker after the meeting.

The Minister for State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who was present at the meeting aligned with Mr. Keyamo’s position.

Meanwhile, the National President of ASUU, Prof Abiodun Ogunyemi in his response says on February 7, 2019, a Memorandum of Action was signed between ASUU and FG.

READ ALSO: Ngige Says ASUU Strike Is ‘Shocking, Illegal’

He explained that on January 9, 2020, the union met with President Buhari and the ministries where he asked the ministers to look into the issues raised.

He said there had been meetings with the Minister of Education and ASUU had written to the Minister of Labour informing him of the strike.

According to Prof Ogunyemi, the 2009 agreement is the originating document and, till date, the agreement has not been met.

The union has also been at loggerheads with the government over the directive to members of ASUU to enroll in the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which the government made compulsory for all civil servants.

On IPPIS, Prof Ogunyemi said the government should not impose it on ASUU as it is not in line with the best global practices.

He said the IPPIS will further reduce the ranking of Nigerian universities.

The Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila after listening to all sides, frowned at the failure to keep agreements.

He blamed the government for failing to keep its end of the agreement.

On the IPPIS issue, Gbajabiamila told ASUU no one is above the law, even if that law isn’t favourable to the union.

He directed the House Chairman on Tertiary Education to attend the proposed meeting between ASUU and the ministries of Labour and Education scheduled to hold at 2 pm today (Thursday).

The Speaker pleaded with ASUU to call off the strike while the National Assembly deals with the issue in the coming weeks.

Prof. Ogunyemi, in his response to the request made by the Speaker to call off the strike, said he cannot decide to call off the strike on the spot, until the meeting scheduled for 2 pm, ends.

He noted that the 2009 agreement has a clause that allows for review in its agreement.

He questioned why the government has not called for a review instead of shutting out ASUU.

After further assurances from the Speaker, ASUU asked that the union be allowed till early next week to decide on calling off the warning strike.

See Photos Of The Meeting Below: 

Unilorin Joins ASUU Strike For The First Time In 20 Years

The entrance of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.

 

The University of Ilorin has joined the warning strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU).

The decision of the institution’s branch of ASUU to join in the general nationwide warning strike is the first of its kind in 20 years.

Speaking to Channels Television on Wednesday, the Branch Chairman of ASUU, Professor Salihu Ajao, says it is a good omen for the branch to return to the national body as his members had suffered various discrimination and embarrassment during the twenty years of fighting the national body.

READ ALSO: Linking Buhari To Sanusi’s Dethronement Is Unfair, Says Garba Shehu

He therefore asked Nigerians to appeal to the Federal Government to meet the demands of the lecturers as the effect of the strike could be disastrous.

Meanwhile, most of the classrooms in the university are empty as few students who were caught unaware could be seen exiting the premises of the school.

The two weeks industrial action no doubt caught the students unaware during their examinations.

Reps Resolve To Invite ASUU, Others Over Ongoing Industrial Action

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and others at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on March 10, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @HouseNGR

 

 

The House of Representatives has invited the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Ministries of Labour and Education, over the ongoing warning strike by members of the union.

This formed part of the resolutions reached during Tuesday’s plenary following a motion of urgent public importance raised by a member of the chamber, Dachung Bagos.

Bagos said there was an urgent need for the House to intervene in the rift between the Federal Government and ASUU over the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and other underlying issues.

Other lawmakers decried that if the issue was not resolved, ASUU would embark on an indefinite strike at the end of the warning industrial action.

They described the strike as a national embarrassment, saying the students were always at the receiving end when the lecturers go on strike.

Meanwhile, the House has resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate oil spill clean-ups and remediation in the oil-producing states in the last five years, and the activities of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency.

The resolution followed a motion by Abubakar Fulata who raised concern that the annual report of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) indicated that 569 incidents of oil spills were conveyed with 9718.22 barrels spilled.

He noted that only 800.55 barrels were recovered while thousands of barrels of oil were lost to the environment.

In their various contributions, the lawmakers were worried that the oil-producing communities continued to complain of belated joint investigative visits, inadequate oil spill clean-up and remediation, thus exacerbating the woes of the polluted communities and the negative impact on the environment.

The motion was, thereafter, referred to the ad-hoc committee and asked to report back within eight weeks for further legislative action.

Air Force Destroys Boko Haram’s Camp In Sambisa Forest

 

The Nigerian Air Force says its air strike has destroyed Boko Haram’s camp at Alafa ‘C’ in Sambisa Forest, Borno State.

In a statement issued on Friday by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the action followed sustained onslaught by the Operation Decisive Edge of the Force against the terrorists.

According to him, the attack was carried out based on “confirmatory Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions which established that several compounds in the settlement were being used by the terrorists to house and train their fighters.”

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“The bomb strikes and rocket salvos from the ATF’s fighter jets hit the designated compounds, obliterating most of the structures and neutralizing some of the BHT occupants,” Daramola said.

The NAF spokesman explained that the Force “operating in concert with surface forces, will sustain its air campaign against the terrorists’ hideouts to shape the battle space for the effective conduct of further ground and air operations.”

See photos below:

 

Three Killed As Suspected Israeli Strike Hits Syrian Airbase

 

A missile strike on a Syrian airbase that Damascus blamed on Israel killed at least three Iran-backed militiamen, a monitor said on Wednesday. 

Four missiles hit the T4 base in Homs province, north of the capital, at around 10:00 pm (2000 GMT) on Tuesday, state news agency SANA reported, blaming the attack on Israel.

It said the strike caused damage but no casualties.

But the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least three Iran-backed militiamen were killed.

It said the strike damaged an Iranian arms depot, two military vehicles and a building still under construction.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said the dead were all non-Syrians, adding that Israel was likely behind the attack.

He said both Iranian forces and Russian military advisers were stationed at the base, which has been hit by Israeli forces in the past.

An Israeli army spokeswoman made no comment when contacted by AFP.

The missile strike adds to the growing tension in the Middle East after a US drone killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a targeted strike in Baghdad on January 3.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out many raids against forces of the Syrian government and its allies, Iran and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Israel insists it will not allow Syria to become a bridgehead for Iranian intervention in the region.

AFP

US Strike Kills Taliban Splinter Commander In Herat

 

A US airstrike killed a Taliban splinter-group commander and several other fighters in the western Afghan province of Herat, Afghan and military sources said Thursday.

The commander, named as Mullah Nangyalay, was killed in Shindand district, close to the border with Iran, said Herat provincial governor’s spokesman Jailani Farhad.

Nangyalay split from the main branch of the Taliban after the 2013 death of founder Mullah Omar and joined a smaller breakaway faction led by a commander known as Mullah Rasool.

READ ALSO: Iran Civil Aviation Boss ‘Certain’ Ukraine Plane Not Hit By Missile

A senior provincial police source said the airstrike had been carried out by a US drone.

A spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan confirmed they had launched “a defensive air strike in support of Afghan forces”.

The main Taliban group has been negotiating with Washington for more than a year over the withdrawal of US troops in exchange for security guarantees from the militants that could pave the way to intra-Afghan peace talks.

Air Strike Kills Eight Iraq Paramilitaries In East Syria

 

An airstrike in eastern Syria killed eight fighters of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force overnight, a war monitor said on Friday.

“Unidentified aircraft targeted vehicles and arms depots in the Albu Kamal area, causing a large explosion. At least eight Iraqi Hashed fighters were killed,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.

He said several others were wounded.

Through a spokesman contacted by AFP, the US-led military coalition operating in Syria and Iraq denied carrying out the strike.

Abdel Rahman said three villages in the Albu Kamal area known for housing forces loyal to Tehran have been targeted by drone strikes since Wednesday, causing no casualties.

READ ALSO: Iranian Missile Brought Down Airliner, Says Canadian PM

The deadly strike comes in a context of spiralling tension between the United States and Iran, much of which has played out in Iraq.

Late last year, a US air strike in Iraq killed 25 Hashed fighters from the Kataeb Hezbollah militia, considered one of the closest to Tehran.

Hashed supporters subsequently stormed the huge US embassy compound in central Baghdad, further escalating the situation.

On January 3, a US strike near Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s feared external operations supremo, in one of the Middle East’s highest-profile assassinations of recent years.

Also killed in the strike was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a founder of Kataeb Hezbollah and seen as Iran’s man in Iraq.

Tehran has vowed bloody revenge and has so far responded with ballistic missiles on a base in western Iraq housing US and other coalition troops.

Iran claimed the strikes killed 80 people but neither the US nor the Iraqi military reported any casualties.

Iran ‘Appears To Be Standing Down’, Says Trump

US President Donald Trump, flanked by advisors, reads from the teleprompter as he addresses the situation with Iran in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, DC, January 8, 2020. AFP

 

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday Iran appeared to be “standing down” after missile strikes on US troop bases in Iraq that resulted in no American or Iraqi deaths.

“All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases. Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” he said in an address to the nation from the White House.

“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. No American or Iraqi lives were lost.”

Trump announced the United States would be imposing “additional punishing sanctions” on Iran but made no mention of possible retaliation to Tuesday’s missile attacks — seen by experts as a measured first response by Iran to the killing of General Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike.

AFP