…as Gbajabiamila meets Finance Minister, DG Budget Office, other stakeholders
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
The impending industrial strike action of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) may have been halted as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has said that the payment of areas owned by them would commence on Friday, May 7, 2021.
The commitment followed a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, NARD member and a team from the federal government.
The doctors had at the resumption of the meeting with Gbajabiamila which began last week, said they would suspend the planned resumption of the strike as soon as they got paid for their salary arrears ranging from one to five months.
Rising from the meeting last night, Ahmed hinted that the funds were ready to make the payments immediately after a verified list of the beneficiaries was received.
When the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, who was one of the stakeholders at the meeting, confirmed that his office was in receipt of the list, the minister gave her word that payment would be made by May 7.
It will be recalled that the resident doctors had on April 1 embarked on an indefinite strike, making some demands, which included non-payment of house officers, abolishment of bench fees, non-payment of national minimum wage, salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016, residency training allowance, and payment of resident doctors on GIFMIS platform.
All the issues raised by the doctors were resolved, except that of salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The issue involves all health workers with a cost implication of about N23 billion, which the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, described as “huge and complicated.”
Also, there were claims that a case on the matter was before a court, which the Speaker asked the Ministry of Health, Dr Osahie Ehanire, to produce the relevant court papers to back the claim as the resident doctors said their checks revealed there was no pending court case anywhere on the matter.
The stakeholders however agreed that the matter should be set aside until court papers were provided.
Others present at the meeting were the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu; Minority Whip, Gideon Gwani; Chairman House Committee on Healthcare Services, Tanko Sununu, among others.
On the part of the Executive arm, there was Dr Ehanire; Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Folasade Yemi-Esan; Chairman of the Committee of CMDs, Dr Jafaru Momoh; the NARD President, Dr Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, among others.