The Federal Government on Sunday night said it has not received any official communication from resident doctors on their minimum demands for an end of their 56-day old strike.
The government however, assured that it would make its position known to the doctors once it received such communication from the striking doctors’ umbrella body, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
NARD had at the end of its 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Conference in Bauchi, Bauchi State, at the weekend asked the government to pay the salary arrears of its members on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS)
The other conditions the association gave for its members to resume work are the payments of medical residency training fund (MRTF) for 2020 and 2021 and withheld August and September salaries; payment of the salary arrears and allowances of doctors in state tertiary health institutions and the withdrawal of the court case against it.
NARD however explained yesterday that it was ready to negotiate with the Federal Government if it (government) is able to meet the 72-hour ultimatum it gave for the minimum conditions to be met.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige said:
We have not gotten that (the 72-hour ultimatum). We have not received their new demands. Let them write their employers, the Minister of Health. Let them also write me.
We have not seen all those demands. When we see their demands we will then have an answer if it is true.
They normally send me the communique of their meeting. When we see it we will respond.
New NARD President Dare Ishaya had earlier yesterday revealed that he was eager to see the association’s face-off with the Federal Government brought to end.
Ishaya revealed that apart from discussing with the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, Dr. Tanko Sununu, he had scheduled a meeting for tomorrow with Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) President Innocent Ujah over the issues at state.
As new executives, we do not know the level of trust that existed between the NARD leadership and the government team(s).
This 72 hours ultimatum that we gave the government is for the government to extend an olive branch to the new executives of the association.
Within this 72 hours, we can sit down together, look at the issues one after the other, and then sort it out because I feel terribly bad that I am coming in to inherit a strike. Therefore, the 72 hours is so that we can iron out the issues and resume back to work.
I have already scheduled a meeting with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) President. I got to understand that there were a lot of arguments between the NMA President and my predecessor. I want us to first speak with him and look at the point of disagreement; we will therefore see if we can move together because I want the NMA and my association to work together in solving the problems. From there, we can go and see other stakeholders.
The NARD boss said they would not focus on “any court order because if we dwell on that, it means that we are still on the battlefield.”
What we have seen is that there are a lot of things and technicalities that have been on the way.
If you look at the stand of the President(Muhammadu Buhari) concerning the issue, especially what came up some days back, he requested that the Ministry of Labour set aside all technicalities, which the lawsuit is one of. However, it is still there.
However, our members are still not going back to work yet until negotiations..