The Federal Government has rejected the 21-day ultimatum given to it by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) saying it is in direct collision with the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on August 21.
The government reaction follows the NMA’s support for the striking resident doctors and the threat to join the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by these doctors if the federal government does not resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed by affiliate unions.
The federal government’s position was made known on Sunday evening by the Ministry of Labour and Employment through a statement titled, ‘Labour Ministry to NMA: Your 21-Day Ultimatum in Collision with Our MoU,’ in which it argued that the NMA’s position was at variance with the timeline stated in the Memorandum of Agreement.
The ministry’s Spokesperson, Charles Akpan, said the Federal Government is religiously implementing its own side of the agreement, with effective monitoring by the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment adding that the NMA was yet to move a needle on the roles assigned to it in the agreement.
What the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment is saying
The statement from the Labour Ministry reads, “First is that the NMA communique in Benin which issued a 21-day ultimatum is at variance with the timeline in article II, Vii, Vii, and X of the MOA.
“Importantly, article II on payment of the outstanding hazard allowance from the 2020 Medical Residency Training Fund states that the fund will be paid after verification and reconciliation of figures from the BOF. Till now, Both NARD/ Postgraduate Medical College are yet to submit the validated application for the eligible doctors missed out in 2020 to enable this payment.
“Article Vii on withdrawal of the circular from the Office of the Head of Service removing House and NYSC Doctors from the scheme of service says ‘the NMA should submit her position immediately to the FMOH PS for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with a view to processing and issuance of clarification circular within two months.’ The NMA is yet to comply with this.”
Akpan further pointed out that the technical committee set up in article Vii to tackle the backlog of arrears on Government Integrated Financial Management Information System was given 4 weeks effective Monday, August 31, 2021, to round off its assignments, querying if this wasn’t a collision with the 21-day ultimatum.
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He added, “Also, article X of the MoU also states that the Nigerian Medical Association should facilitate the withdrawal of suits by Medical and Dental Doctors in Academics against the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission and the Accountant- General of the Federation to ensure the amicable resolution of the issues. The NMA is yet to do this, yet issuing a fresh ultimatum.
“It is, therefore, clear that the 21-day ultimatum will neither assist the NMA discharge the role assigned to it in the MoU nor facilitate the faithful implementation of the timeline which the federal government has given every attention.”
The government admonished the NMA to play its role as the guardian of its affiliate associations instead of descending into the arena for needless fear of impeachment adding that it has by the communique issued in Benin abdicated the main role assigned to it in the August 21 MoU.
What you should know
It can be recalled that on August 1, 2021, the resident doctors commenced a nationwide industrial action over the failure of the federal government to honour and implement the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that it signed with them some months back.
Despite a series of meetings between the Federal Government and the striking doctors, no resolution has been reached.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had in the wake of the disagreement taken the resident doctors to the industrial court for the resolution of the dispute and threatened to invoke the “no-work, no pay” rule on NARD.
The industrial court had a few days ago, ordered the striking resident doctors to resume work pending the determination of the case brought by the federal government.
The 21-day ultimatum given by NMA was part of the resolutions reached during its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, held in Benin City last week.
It said that it will summon an emergency delegate meeting if the Federal Government fails to implement the agreements after the expiration of the 21- day notice.