Pleads with Resident Doctors to suspend strike
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Federal Government on Friday said it has released N4.5 billion to 31 Federal Teaching and Medical Centres across the country for the payment of hazard and inducement allowances for the month of April and May.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Senator Ngige, flanked by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, said that the money was released the early morning of Friday.
The Minister also said that they briefed President Buhari on the strike embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD.
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It will be recalled that NARD had on Sunday directed its members to go on strike over the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, and poor remuneration for members as they battle the raging Coronavirus pandemic.
According to him, “Just this morning, before we went to see Mr President, the Ministry of Finance reported that as at this morning, 3 am, they have paid the allowances for hazard and inducement to 31 teaching and Federal Medical Centres and specialist hospitals of the federal government service.
“And they have expended close to N4.5 billion in the payment because we are paying them the arrears of April and May. The payment for June will also be done immediately these ones are sorted out.
“Again, it’s important to report to you that in consonance with what he’s saying, we have arranged a meeting for them to speak to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum because you don’t mix apples and oranges.
“The issue of health is on the concurrent list, so the federal government will do its own and the state government will be expected to do their own. Some of their grievances border on what they feel the state governments have not done.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr Ehanire said: “We hope that there is a solution in sight; what we have done is to brief the President of the country, who as we all know has the final responsibility for everything that goes on in government.
“Those of us who are Ministers administer our ministries and have to report to him periodically.
“In this particular case, it has been important to report to him how things have been because of the strike action of resident doctors.
“We have to report to him the implications and the possible consequences of such a strike action.
“He listened to us carefully, of course, he is not happy that it has come this way and we all hope that it would be resolved after all the demands that were made have been resolved.
“The Minister of Labour has listed those demands and how all of them have been fulfilled except those of them which are not within our ambit.”
The Ministers expressed optimism that the resident doctors’ strike will be suspended as soon as possible.
On the strike notice issued by the three university-based unions after the lockdown because of the issues on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, Senator Ngige said he was in talks with the Accountant General of the Federation on he to resolve the matter.
He also said that he planned to have a meeting with the leadership of the three unions, the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions, NASU.