Despite interventions from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike.
NARD President, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, while addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday, stated that strike is binding on all resident doctors, medical officers below the rank of Principal Medical Officer (PMO), and House Officers across all the Federal and State Hospitals in Nigeria.
He however noted that the union had decided to exempt its members working in various coronavirus (COVID-19) isolation and treatment centres across the country, for the first 2 weeks after which they will join the industrial action.
According to Sokomba, the exemption was made in recognition of the intervention of Hon. Tanko Sanunu, Chairman House Committee on Health Services, other stakeholders and a demonstration of NARD goodwill to the country.
NAN reports that the union had reached this decision at a virtual extra-ordinary National Executive Council meeting of the association held on Sunday to review the 14-days ultimatum earlier issued.
Sokomba noted that despite series of meetings between the doctors and the Federal Government in the last two weeks, several issues remained unresolved.
Some of these issues according to him include non-payment of special allowances for the resident doctors, the deplorable state of hospitals and the lack of protective equipment for members of the union treating COVID-19 patients leading to the death of some doctors in recent times.
The doctors are also asking for universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State Hospitals and ensuring pay parity among doctors of equal cadre, provision of funding of medical residency training in the 2021 appropriation bill, as well as the implementation of the revised hazard and payment of agreed COVID-19 inducement allowances.
“Immediate implementation of the revised hazard allowance and payment of the COVID-19 inducement allowance agreed with the government and healthcare workers three months ago.
“Stoppage and immediate refund of all illegal, unjust and callous cut in salaries of our members by Kaduna State and other state governments,” Sokomba said.
Meanwhile, Speaker Gbajabiamila had expressed surprise over their insistence on the industrial action, after what he described as a successful meeting between the union, the two ministers manning the Ministry of Health, and stakeholders from the National Assembly by last Tuesday.
He noted that efforts had already been put in place to meet their demands, as the sum of N4 billion was approved by the House on Wednesday and confirmed by the Senate on Thursday, for the commencement of funding of residency programme as provided for by the Medical Residency Training Act.
On the issue of a template for implementation, Gbajabiamila directed that an emergency meeting with the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission be held on Monday, June 15, to produce a template within the next 48 hours.
He had also promised that the House would come up with a law to back the payment of hazard allowance and define the same for clarity. He assured them at the meeting that the resident doctors’ training would be captured in the 2021 budget whether or not it is included by the Executive in the ministry’s budget.
With the steps taken, the Speaker had appealed to the union to stay the action for a while as the government speeds up the process of meeting their demands.
His appeal notwithstanding, the union commenced the indefinite strike by midnight of Monday, June 15.
Godwin Obaseki wins Edo State governorship election
Incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki emerged winner in the Edo State gubernatorial election.
Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has declared Godwin Obaseki the winner of the Edo State gubernatorial election today.
Mr. Obaseki will return as the Governor of the state for a second term.
The results were declared by INEC on Sunday afternoon after the results were counted from all LGA’s on Saturday.
Obaseki had 307,955 votes, which was enough to be declared a clear winner over Ize-Iyamu’s 223,619 votes.
Obaseki took to his Twitter handle to thank the people of Edo State for their votes. He stated,
“Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalization. The collective will of Edo people made it possible for us to triumph over godfatherism. Congratulations to all Edo people. This is our victory!”
Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalization. The collective will of Edo people made it possible for us to triumph over godfatherism. Congratulations to all Edo people. This is our victory! pic.twitter.com/4X4Lfk3wMb
— Godwin Obaseki (GGO) (@GovernorObaseki) September 20, 2020
WTO: Okonjo-Iweala still in contention as 3 candidates depart race for DG
Okonjo-Iweala and the remaining 4 other candidates hope to succeed the current DG, Mr Roberto Azevêdo.
Three candidates running for the post of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation have fallen out of the race after failing to secure enough votes in the first rounds of voting, leaving only 5 candidates left, including Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
This was disclosed by Bloomberg on Thursday, before the meeting on Friday. The Candidates that are out of the race are Jesus Seade (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), and Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt). The candidates were not able to secure the support needed for the first round of 3 rounds of voting.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweal joins 4 other candidates for the next round of voting. The candidates are; Liam Fox (UK), Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril (Kenya), Yoo Myung-hee ( South Korea), and Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri ( Saudi Arabia).
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed last month some of her plans for the Organization if made President. Nairametrics reported she noted that part of her vision is to build a trade institution where there is greater trust among its members. She also stressed that the WTO, at this critical time, is needed to ensure that trade and global markets remain open.
On healing the rift between the US and China, Okonjo-Iweala admitted that it is going to be challenging and not be easy. She said:
“Well, this is not going to be easy, if it was easy, it could have been done a long time since. So it would be very challenging but it is not an impossible job. It is very clear that both the US and China have been helped and benefitted from the multilateral trading system in the past. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty. They have experienced shared prosperity in the economies and their countries.’’
She added she would listen to both countries to find out what really are the issues causing distrust among them. She said that she will not want to be involved in the larger political problems, but will rather separate the trade issues and focus on them and build this trust.
“You need to begin to find areas where there can be confidence-building and trade. Building trust is not talking about it, you have to have areas where both can work together and agree and we have a golden opportunity in the fisheries subsidies negotiations that are going on now because the US is a party to it, China is a party, the EU, all other members,’’ she said.
Okonjo-Iweala and the 4 other candidates will present themselves to the members of the global trade body for the later stages of voting in the hopes of securing the highest number of votes to succeed the current DG, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo.
FG to establish a new anti-corruption agency
Malami disclosed that the new anti-corruption agency would be called Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency.
The Federal Government has approved the establishment of a new anti-corruption agency that will have the responsibility of properly managing and coordinating all assets seized domestically or returned from abroad, following anti-corruption probes.
The disclosure was made by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, while briefing state house correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.
Malami explained that the recovered assets had been scattered across several agencies and that better coordination would encourage international/overall coordination in recovering more looted assets.
Nigeria has repatriated well over $300 million of looted funds this year alone and seized about $40 million worth of jewellery belonging to the former Minister for Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke. This is in addition to the seized ill-gotten properties and real estate.
The Attorney General said that this new initiative would create a one-stop-shop for managing seized assets in an open and accountable way. He called the plan the next level of transparency and said the agency could also give the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning a budget for recovered assets.
He disclosed that the new anti-corruption agency, which would be called Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency, is to be saddled with the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in the country. He said that the FEC had approved the transmission of a bill, ‘Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill,’ to the National Assembly.
Malami noted that setting up an agency like this had become quite imperative in a bid to consolidate on the gains achieved so far in the government’s war against corruption.
The fight against corruption in the country has not been an easy one, as even a US senator, Chuck Grassley, earlier this year, raised concerns about the return of money due to worries over whether there were proper safeguards to prevent further misappropriation or relooting of those recovered funds.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), which currently has the responsibility of managing its recovered or seized assets, has been bedevilled by a lot of controversies recently, following the accusation and subsequent suspension of its Ag. Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
This follows the Minister of Justice’s accusation of the agency for diversion of funds that had been recovered during corruption investigations.