By Dipo Olowookere
The aggrieved resident doctors in Nigeria under the aegis of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have called off their strike.
The action was suspended after a meeting with the federal government in Abuja on Thursday at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr Chris Ngige, who is a trained medical doctor.
At the meeting, the parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on all matters raised by NARD after it was stressed that eight of the 10 issues raised by the doctors have been addressed.
The MoU was signed by Mr Ngige; Minister for State, Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo; Minister of State for Health, Mr Olorunimbe Mamora; Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris; Permanent Secretary, Labour and Employment, Mr Yerima Tarfa; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, A. M. Abdullahi; Secretary-General, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Ekpe Philip’s Uche; President of NARD, Dr Sokomba Aliyu, and Secretary-General of NARD, Dr Bilqis Muhammed.
Presenting the MOU, Mr Ngige stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an additional N8.9 billion to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all medical health workers as the N20 billion already appropriated in 2020 COVID-19 Budget had been exhausted to N19 billion; while payment would commence immediately.
The meeting agreed that the Labour Minister will as soon as possible convene a meeting to review the hazard allowance and discuss a permanent new rate of hazard allowance for all health workers.
On the domestication of the Residency Training Act by state governments, it was agreed that the issue would be tabled at the National Economic Council and National Council of Health to persuade the states to domesticate the act.
The meeting also affirmed that the federal government had already provided hospitals and isolation centres with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Mr Ngige assured that nobody would be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action, as agreed at the meeting, though he described the strike as “illegal, unwarranted, and badly-timed in the face of a pandemic and national disaster.”
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