Resident Doctors, FG Reach Truce, To Call Off Strike

  • Govt Agrees To Pay N4.8bn Residency Training Fund In 7 days

Barring any last minute changes, resident doctors in the country will soon call off their strike as the Federal Government and the Nigerian Medical Association, (NMA) and other stakeholders in the medical sector on Saturday reached an agreement over the 12-point demands put forward by the striking doctors.

The fededal government is expected to commence the implementation of the MoU with the NMA on Monday.

Recall the resident doctors under the umbrella of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, (NARD) and FG through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had been locking horns in recent months over the alleged inability of the government to meet with the association’s demands.

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On August 2, the residents doctors had embarked on an indefinite strike to press home their demands. Ngige who had threatened to invoke the ‘no work, no pay’ policy to make the striking workers suspend the strike dragged the doctors to the Industrial Court for adjudication as negotiation to resolve the dispute continues to stall.

On Saturday, the Minister of Labour met with stakeholders in the health sector following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.

At the marathon meeting which lasted for about 11 hours behind closed-door, it was gathered all the 12 point demands were acceded to. The resolution, sources reportedly said, includes payment of residents Doctors “where Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria tabled evidence to show that 2800 doctors have been paid and efforts ongoing to sort the outstanding 144; the N4.8 billion Residency Training Fund which the Budget Office assured would be paid in 7 days.

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“The meeting also tackled the issue of locum doctors/ emergency and migration to IPPIS, the bench fees and the  hazard allowance which it agreed should be out of the negotiation table since the stalemate created by the disagreement between the NMA and JOHESU was responsible for the delay, as the Federal Government already mapped out N37.5B for it.”

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Ngige while addressing journalists on resolutions at the meeting, said they had reached agreements on all the 12 disputed issues, adding that implementation would start from the next working day (Monday).

On issues bordering on non-payment of some house officers, the Minister said NARD is expected to submit the list of the affected 114 officers for further verification and when confirmed with their IPPIS particulars and BVN in order, they would be paid in September with the outstanding arrears.

He said an agreement was reached on the Residency Training Fund outstanding for 2020 and 2021, after the Budget Office had explained that N617, 429, 121 was the outstanding to be paid in the 2020.

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“There are reconciliations to be done here because the 2020 was done with some errors. Some people who are not supposed to benefit from the fund got money and because of that, the number of genuine people that were not paid also came to that quantum of persons.

“So, reconciliation is being done and some monies are being returned. We have given a timeline for this reconciliation to be done.

“And for the 2021, the money approved by Government is N4.802B. This money like I said earlier was contained in the 2021 Supplementary Budget, which the President signed on the eve of his departure to UK for the meeting and medical check-up.

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“So, between that time and now, it became a money law. The funds have now been sourced and it has gotten from the CBN to the Budget Office where we expect it to be processed in one week as undertaken by the Government side.”

Commending the NMA President, Prof. Innocent Ujah for assuming his role as the leader of all doctors in Nigeria, Ngige said, “when you talk to the children and they don’t listen well, you talk to their parents. The standing agreement that every negotiation by affiliate associations must be led by the NMA was not observed in the recent past. I therefore commend Ujah for assuming his role as the father of all doctors. I want you to play this role effectively and efficiently.”

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The NMA President, Professor Uja however, said the strike could have been avoided had government functionaries played their roles on time, saying: “As doctors, we are trained to prevent disease, cure illnesses and promote health but not trained to go on strike.”

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