By Appolos Christian
In bid to set the record straight, the Federal Government has said that it has already addressed a greater part of the demands over which the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a total and indefinite industrial action nationwide.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, stated this at the conciliation meeting between the leadership of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to address NARD’s demands and resolve the ongoing trade dispute.
At the end of the conciliation meeting convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, the parties agreed that “the Federal Government had earlier addressed most of the original eight (8) demands made by NARD and the remaining two (2) were in different stages of being resolved.”
The parties thereafter signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on all matters raised by NARD, and resolved that NARD would consult with her Executive Council with a view to calling off the strike.
Presenting the MOU, Ngige stated that Mr President had approved an additional N8,901,231,773.55 to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 Covid-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers, as the N20B already appropriated in 2020 Covid-19 Budget had been exhausted to N19 billion; while payment would commence immediately.
The meeting agreed that the Minister for Labour & Employment would as soon as possible convene a meeting to review the hazard allowance and discuss a permanent new rate of hazard allowance for all health workers. “based on the principles of ability to pay, this will cover all Health Workers in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).”
On the Domestication of the Residency Training Act by State Governments, the meeting recognized the Autonomy of States within the Federation, and agreed that the issue would be tabled at the National Economic Council and National Council of Health to persuade the States to domesticate the Act.
The meeting also affirmed that the Federal Government had already provided hospitals and Isolation Centres with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Ngige stated that that nobody would be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action, as agreed by the meeting.
At the commencement of the meeting, Ngige had condemned the action of NARD, describing it as “illegal, unwarranted, and badly-timed in the face of a pandemic and national disaster.”
He maintained that Labour Laws, Health Laws, and International Conventions and Principles at Work did not allow such actions.
The Minister said that the Federal Government had not in any way reneged on its agreement with NARD, and it was unfair for the Association to make such accusations, and dishonourable for it to embark on that industrial action.
Along the same line, Minister of State for Health, Dr A. O. Mamora, stated that within the limits of available resources, the Federal Government had continued to meet the demands of NARD.
He enjoined the doctors to go back to work, while the Federal Government continued to work on their remaining demands, as everything could not be done in one fell swoop.
The Memorandum of Understanding were signed by Minister for Labour and Employment, Senator Dr Chris Ngige; Minister for State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN; Minister of State for Health, Dr A. O. Mamora; Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris; Permanent Secretart, Labour and Employment, Dr Yerima P. Tarfa; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, A. M. Abdullahi; Secretary-General, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Ekpe Philip’s Uche; President, NARD, Dr Sokomba Aliyu, and Secretary General, NARD, Dr Bilqis Muhammed.