Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has vowed to continue its nationwide strike that has prevented access to healthcare across hospitals.
The resident doctors embarked on strike on April 1 to protest issues that mostly bother on poor remuneration and conditions of service.
Among their demands is a 50 percent increase of the N5,000 they are being paid as hazard allowance.
At its national executive council (NEC) meeting on Wednesday, the association said there was no going back on their resolve to down tools until all their demands are met.
The doctors also accused the federal government of being insincere in its response to their grievances.
“The NEC unanimously voted that the ongoing total and indefinite strike that started on the 1st of April 2021 be continued until federal and state governments of Nigeria meet up with our demands,” NARD said in a communique.
“NEC painfully observed that despite all the efforts of by the National Officers Committee (NOC) to ensure that the Federal Government do the needful to prevent the ongoing strike, Government has continued in their insincerity of promises hence the current stalemate.”
The association said it is disappointed with Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, who had said he was not aware doctors are collecting N5,000 as hazard allowance until the coronavirus pandemic started.
It said it had given a two-month ultimatum before declaring the industrial action “when it became apparent that the ministry of health was not interested in any form of settlement to avert the avoidable action.”
“NEC also noted that the Memorandum of Action signed was after 12 midnight on 31st of March, 2021 when the ultimatum had elapsed. Without prejudice to the labour laws and other extant laws of the land, the industrial action had already begun before the MOA was signed and as such, not tenable,” it added.
“They noted the admittance of the Hon Minister of state for health who wholeheartedly agreed that all the issues raised by NARD in her communique are germane and legitimate and further admitted that bureaucratic bottlenecks in government led to delay/ non-implementation of previous memoranda signed with NARD.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the NEC stated clearly that the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors is not a financial arm of the Nigerian government and therefore not involved in any form of payment of residency training funding as was alleged in the meeting called at the instance of the HMoLE (honourable minister of labour and employment).
“To set the record straight, the offices and officers involved are the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and her Registrar as well as the Office of Hospital services and her Director. When the errors in payment were noticed, NARD informed both bodies appropriately for further action as may be necessary.”
After appraising the government’s response to its demands, the association said the industrial action goes on although it is still mindful of its oath to take care of patients.
“We want to use this medium to reiterate our commitment to the smooth running of all tertiary institutions in the country and the provision of specialist healthcare to Nigerians but we need to first of all care for our own health and welfare in order to give standard care to our patients. This is in line with our physician oath,” it said.