By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The leadership of the House of Representatives will next week invite the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, over the industrial action by resident doctors.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who announced this yesterday, said the meeting would be over how to ensure execution of the Memorandum of Action, MoA, entered into between the government and National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Mr. Lanre Lasisi, the speaker, while meeting with the executives of NARD, led by the President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, at the association’s secretariat in Abuja, assured that the House will reach an amicable and acceptable resolution of the contentious hazard allowance issue as well as other pressing issues.
Recall that the resident doctors suspended the industrial action that began on April 1, 2021, after 10 days of its commencement.
The speaker noted that though it was impossible to accommodate the hazard allowance in the 2021 national budget, the House will work to ensure it was included in the supplementary budget.
While commending the doctors for suspending the strike at the request of the House, the speaker said: “Even the constitution talks about essential services, but there’s nothing as essential a service than that which seeks to save and protect lives.”
Noting that the House believed that “the labourer must earn his wages,” Gbajabiamila said: “We’ll monitor issues being processed, the IPPIS, training fund, hazard allowances which the House championed at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis.
“All the issues will be addressed. We’re looking to come to a reasonable and acceptable hazard allowance as well as the training fund, which when the supplementary budget is introduced, we hope and expect to justify why this should be accommodated
“We will do everything we need to do to see how we can capture that. We are inviting the Finance Minister next week so that we can talk and see how, as best as we can, accommodate all these issues and cement the Memorandum of Action.’’
On why the leadership of the House had to visit the NARD secretariat for the meeting, the speaker said it was to appreciate the respect and understanding the association had shown him and the House to suspend the strike to allow for the resolution of the issues.
He said: “The decision to visit you is a clear message that we are with you because the role of doctors cannot be understated and to thank you for calling off the strike because of what we have done.
“We are here to encourage and thank you for calling off the strike and give you assurances that the House will be there with you, talking with the executive on what needs to be done”.