NARD: Why we suspended nationwide strike

The president of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, says Senator Chris Ngige, minister of labour, has lost “touch with medicine”.

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has said that its members decided to suspend the 63-day-old strike based on the strength of progress made in the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) reached with the federal government.

But the association said that it is giving another six weeks window for the government to implement the decisions reached in the MoU, failing which it will summon another emergency National Executive Council meeting to decide on what to do.

NARD said it was persuaded by various interventions from prominent Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari and the Committee of the House of Representatives on Health to suspend its action.

Speaking at a press conference at NARD’s headquarters in Abuja on Monday, the President, Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya, said the NEC meeting assessed the level of implementation of the MoU reached with the federal government and was impressed with the progress.

He said: After critical appraisal of the performances of both federal and state governments on all the issues that led to the ongoing strike as stated above, progress made in implementing previous agreements reached with the federal government, the interventions of President Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Health, Registrar, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services and his deputy, president of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and well-meaning Nigerians, government’s show of goodwill to return to the negotiating table, NEC resolved by the votes of a simple majority, to suspend the total and indefinite strike embarked upon on August 2nd, 2021.

“Therefore, our members will resume full work on Wednesday, October 6 by 8 am.”

He said that the government has commenced the payment of medical training allowance in about 20 verified centres across the country.

Ishaya said NEC noted the commendable level of resolutions of issues involving House Officers by the MDCN.

In a communiqué jointly signed by Ishaya, NARD Secretary-General, Dr Abiodun Ismail, and Publicity/Social Secretary, Dr Alifa Yusuf, the association said: “NEC noted that migration of members from the GIFMIS to the IPPIS platform has commenced and almost been completed.

“NEC commended the federal government’s willingness to withdraw the case against NARD at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria and return to the negotiation table in the interest of peace in the health sector.”

The communiqué further said that NEC had noted the willingness of the Head of Service of the Federation to withdraw the obnoxious circular removing House Officers from the Scheme of Service and also acknowledged the explanatory circular from the Salaries, Income and Wages Commission in that regard.

However, Yahaya said that the association viewed with great concern the conditions of NARD members working in various states, especially, Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo States who are currently owed salary arrears ranging from 21 months to six, five and three months respectively.

He also said that the NEC meeting viewed with concern the following perennial issues — non-payment of the shortfalls of 2014 to 2016 to her members despite several engagements with the government, arrears of national minimum wage consequential adjustment, delay in payment of death in service insurance benefit to the next of kin of their members who died in active service.

Another area of concern, Yahaya said, is the non-payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance to some of its members in the federal and state tertiary health institutions.

When asked if NARD has been able to secure a reversal of the no-work-no-pay order clamped on them by the federal government, Ishaya said that the association is having dialogue to resolve it.

On the issue of the new hazard allowance for health workers, he said that negotiations on the modalities for fixing the rates are ongoing among the unions in the health sector.

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