Nigerians doctors under the umbrella of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have announced plans to begin a five-day warning strike if the Nigerian government fails to meet their demands.
The President of the association, Emeka Innocent, said the decision was reached at the NARD’s extraordinary National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held virtually on Monday.
Mr Innocent said the warning strike will commence at 8 a.m on Wednesday 17 May and end at 8 a.m Monday, 22 May.
NARD had on 29 April issued a two-week ultimatum to the government to meet its demands or face industrial action.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, however described as “absurd” the demands by the doctors.
Mr Ngige said the resident doctors are suffering from “entitlement syndrome”, insisting that the federal government has gone to great lengths “to give them everything they want.”
“We have been managing their matter and have given them everything they want, including the residency training programme funds, we are paying them, even when in training, we pay them a full salary, pay them all the allowances and you decided that we have not done enough,” he said.
The doctors, amongst other issues, are demanding the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), tangible steps on the “upward review” of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and payment of all salary arrears owed its members from 2015.
The association also condemned the controversial bill seeking to compel medical and dental practitioners to practise for five years before relocating abroad, noting that such would rather escalate the challenge of brain drain in the health sector.
The ARD president said the body frowns at the deliberate refusal by the government to pay the salary arrears of 2014, 2015 and 2016 to its members as well as the arrears of the consequential adjustments of minimum wage.
He said many state governors “are yet to implement the appropriate CONMESS structure, domesticate the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA) or improve on the hazard allowance paid to NARD members.”
The doctors demanded an “immediate increment in the CONMESS salary structure to the tune of 200 per cent of the current gross salary of doctors in addition to the new allowances included in the letter written by NARD to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, in 2022.
Other demands include: “The immediate massive recruitment of clinical staff in the hospitals and the complete abolishment of bureaucratic limitations to the immediate replacement of doctors who leave the system.
“Immediate commencement of payment of all salary arrears owed our members by the various state governments, notorious amongst which is the Abia State government.”
Resident doctors are doctors undertaking training to become specialists/consultants. They make up the bulk of the doctors in Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals and when the NARD goes on strike, activities are crippled in such hospitals.
The association had in January issued an ultimatum to the government to resolve issues affecting its members, including the immediate implementation, and payment of the new hazard allowance and arrears.
The doctors said the government is yet to meet their demands.
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