Resident doctors agree to shelve planned strike – Gbajabiamila
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has notified Nigerians that the members of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, have agreed to shelve their proposed strike billed for Friday.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said the decision to shelve the planned industrial action was reached at an exhaustive meeting between the parties concerned.
Recall that the resident doctors had embarked on an indefinite strike on April 1, 2021, over grievances which include the non-payment of house officers, abolishment of bench fees, non-payment of national minimum wage, salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016, residency training allowance, and payment of resident doctors on GIFMIS platform.
The Punch however reported that all highlighted issues were resolved except that of salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
It involves all health workers with a cost implication of about N23bn, which the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, described as “huge and complicated.”
However, Lasisi revealed that the agreement was reached after the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, notified the doctors that funds were available for the payment immediately a verified list of the beneficiaries was received.
Ahmed further vowed that the payment would be made by May 7 after the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze, who was one of the stakeholders at the meeting, confirmed that his office was in receipt of the list.
The statement read: “The doctors, at the resumption of the meeting with Gbajabiamila which began last week, said they would suspend the planned resumption of the strike as soon as they got payment for their salary arrears ranging from one to five months,” the statement said.
“They took the position after the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said funds were available for the payment, assuring that her ministry would pay immediately a verified list of the beneficiaries was received.
“However, when the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, who was one of the stakeholders at the meeting, confirmed that his office was in receipt of the list, the minister gave her word that payment would be made by May 7.”
“All the issues raised by the doctors were resolved, except that of salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“The issue involves all health workers with a cost implication of about N23 billion, which the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, described as ‘huge and complicated’.
“Also, there were claims that a case on the matter was before a court, which the Speaker asked the Ministry of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to produce the relevant court papers to back the claim as the resident doctors said their checks revealed there was no pending court case anywhere on the matter.
“It was then agreed jointly by the doctors, the House led by the Speaker and officials of the ministry of health that the matter should be set aside until court papers were provided.”