The Federal Government has stated that it is committed to ending the strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), which has affected healthcare service delivery across the country.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige while addressing the Nigerian Health Commissioners’ Forum Quarterly on Friday in Abuja.
Ngige revealed that Nigerian doctors were “sleeping on their rights until COVID-19 pandemic broke out last year”, citing the Federal Government increasing the hazard allowance from the N5000 amount.
“The Federal Government paid the doctors and other health workers ‘bumper money’ as special COVID hazard allowance for three months in the first instance, to the tune of N32 billion,” he said.
He added that states were told to pay as much as they could afford, however, this was one of the reasons that caused the strike.
He said, “In September 2020, they put a notice of strike, asking for Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), by which each of them will get N542,000 to cover the cost of books and journals for that particular examination, transportation and lodging for three days.
“Luckily, a supplementary budget was being put together and it was included and was paid to them. They called off the strike.
“By March this year, they listed other things again. They said the Residency Training Fund is not in 2021 budget.
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”They also needed the hazard allowance to be upgraded and demanded that States should domesticate Residency Training Act.
“They said some states owed their people long months of salaries. They also wanted skipping allowance and arrears of consequential adjustment to minimum wage.
“Before we could say Jack Robinson, they went on strike on April 1. I thought it was April fool until April 2 when we didn’t see them at work.
“I told them that, they didn’t give the mandatory 21 days notice to their employers who have written to me to complain.”
Ngige said that the FG returned to the table and pledged that the 2021 Residency Training Fund will be captured in the supplementary budget. This has been done and payment is ready, the Minister said.
“Federal Government had also approved N11.3bn for Group Life Insurance in 2020 and renewed it in 2021, citing that the FG also held a series of conjoint NMA-JOHESU meetings on hazard allowance until the two disagreed and then asked for separate negotiations.
“Anyway, N160 billion earmarked for it has been exhausted and the next thing to do is to push for more. But really, some hospitals have got.
”We also abolished bench fees for Residency Training for those doing speciality. At this, the doctors left the negotiation happy,” he said.
Ngige added that the doctors returned again on July 22, 2021 and complained about things that were undone and the Government updated them on the efforts being made to address their demands.
“So, we will now approach the World Bank to lend to CBN and from there, we will obtain the Naira component and it will be paid,” he said.
What you should know
- Earlier the Federal Government ordered the stoppage of salaries and allowances of the striking resident doctors as it has commenced the implementation of the ‘no work, no pay’ rule with effect from Monday, August 2, 2021.
- Nairametrics reported last month that NARD has stated that the FG has been indifferent towards implementing its part of the bargain in its present strike, citing that the National Assembly may have “taken off its hands” from resolving the conflict.