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Doctors strike: Details of Gbajabiamila’s meeting with FG, union officials

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President of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has negotiated a truce between the Federal Government and the National Association of Resident Physicians (NARD), which saw the association extend the suspension of its planned strike action.

At the meeting held on Monday at the Abuja National Assembly, he called on the association and officials of the Federal Ministry of Health to reach an agreement on how to resolve the matter.

The President of NARD, Dr. Olusegun Olaopa, had explained to the President and other principal officers of the Chamber, including Vice President Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase that they had three major complaints against the Federal Government.

The three complaints, he said, had to do with salary arrears, the omitted salary of N23.6bn and irregularities in the implementation of the Resident Physicians Act.

However, President Gbajabiamila was able to obtain the commitment of the Federal Ministries of Finance and Health that wage arrears would be ready for payment in the next three weeks.

While he sympathized with the association for losing one of its members in the process of fighting to solve the problems, speaker Gbajabiamila said: “Allow me to thank you for this House and this institution for the respect of putting your strike on hold.

“I want to assure you that respect is mutual. We are here for you; We are here to protect it, and in doing so, we also protect our constituents.

“When you talk about essential services, the most important thing is health services, because it saves lives. Then, we know the consequences of his strike.

“As we all know the consequences, we should take the issue seriously. Ours is to appeal to you using the instrumentality of this House.

“The problem of your N3.5bn, I can almost assure you that it will be solved next month. There is already machinery in motion to ensure that it is paid next month.

“In the presence of everyone present, the finance ministry commits three weeks, and you will receive your payment. As a home, we will make sure to move on. Then, for the sake of lives, in that particular case, I beg you to delay a little,” he said.

In the Resident Physicians Act, he said that the Chamber would do everything in its power to ensure that the House Health Committee provided adequate supervision to the relevant agencies.

He also assured that the Chamber would guarantee the inclusion of the omitted salary of N23.6bn due to doctors in the 2020 budget, which has not yet been submitted to the National Assembly.

“We are going to risk our reputation and try to see how we can make the Executive bring to the budget what is pleasant and because of them (NARD).” For our part, we will ensure that everything that is owed to you is part of the 2020 budget.

“But now I ask you to exercise a little patience to see what we can do alone to stop this problem.” For the good of the people, let’s wait. Once the N3.5bn is paid, it can be deduced that the 2020 budget will have the N23.6bn. “

In response, NARD President Dr. Olaopa said the association would wait three weeks and said: “We assure you that we will keep our part of the agreement.”

The meeting, which lasted about two hours, was attended by Vice President Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase; House leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Deputy Chief Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and other members of the Chamber.

There were also officials from the Federal Ministries of Finance and Health, the Director-General, Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, members of NARD and the Medical Association of Nigeria (NMA), among others.