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Updated: Resident doctors embark on nationwide strike

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Resident doctors across the country on Thursday morning embarked on a nationwide strike less than 24 hours after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), flew to London for medical check-up.

The development comes despite reports that the doctors, under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, on Wednesday, signed an agreement with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige,  to shelve the industrial action.

NARD, in a brief statement via its Twitter handle, @nard_nigeria, on Thursday informed Nigerians that the strike was not meant to hurt them.

The message read, “Nigerians must understand that we love them and the strike is not intended to hurt them but to challenge the Nigerian government @MBuhari @Fmohnigeria @LabourMinNG whose responsibilities amongst others is to care for her citizens and labour force to do the needful.”

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The union’s President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, also confirmed to Channels TV that the strike had commenced by 8 am Thursday.

Recall that reports on Wednesday claimed NARD and the Federal Government signed a memorandum of acting following their plan to embark on a nationwide strike from today, 1 April 2021.

The agreement was signed after the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige met with the leadership of NARD.

The meeting, which lasted for seven hours, deliberated on the issues raised by the aggrieved doctors in their Notice of Trade Dispute including the non-payment of salaries of some house officers, non-recruitment of house officers, abolishment of the bench fees for doctors undergoing training in other hospitals, non-payment of National Minimum Wage and hazard allowances.

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Ngige while speaking with newsmen after the meeting, vowed that all the things written in the MOA will be implemented.

He said, “Twelve hours is a lot of time. Everybody will be working. Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) will be working.”

“And hopefully by tomorrow, you will experience the payment as agreed here for the second category of doctors (an overflow of the MDCN quota). We hope it must happen tomorrow and continue.”

“So, by the time the chairman of the CMDs comes up with his final list and harmonise it with MDCN, we won’t have issue anymore over this payment or whether some doctors have not been paid.”

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With regards to other issues raised by the doctors at the meeting, Ngige explained that timelines have been put on them, the reason why they were going to reconvene in one month’s time to look at the assignments given, to know who performed and who has not performed.

Those at the meeting include the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi, his Labour and Employment counterpart, Peter Yerima Tarfa, representatives of the OAGF, MDCN and the National Salaries, Wages and Incomes Commission.

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