Striking doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors have promised to call off their two weeks old strike after a closed door meeting with Principal Officers of the Senate on Tuesday.
National President of the association, Emeka Innocent Orji, gave the indication while addressing the media shortly after the closed-door meeting with President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, and other Principal Officers of the Senate.
He stated, “we had a very fruitful meeting with the Senate led by the President of the Senate and from our discussions with them, we are very hopeful that when we table our discussions today before the NEC, something positive would come out.
“From our interaction with the President of the Senate and the practical demonstration he did before us today, we are very confident that there would be light at the end of the tunnel in the next 24 hours.
“Because of the intervention of the President of the Senate, who is the number three citizen and the assurance he has given us, our planned national protest has been cancelled while the decision on the ongoing strike would be taken as soon we meet,” he assured.
Speaking in the same vein, Akpabio thanked the medical doctors for honoring the Senate by calling off their planned national protest and also working towards calling off the strike.
According to him, “I thank you on behalf of the Senate for honoring us with your decision not only to cancel the planned public protest, but to also call off the strike in the interest of the suffering masses.
“Your demands are well noted and let me assure you that as soon as a Minister in charge of Health is appointed, the Senate will work with him or her to expeditiously address all your grievances.
“The President Bola Tinubu-led administration is doctors’ friendly and that explains the large number of medical practitioners he has appointed into his cabinet.
“Strike by medical practitioners should not be allowed even for a day because of the impacts it creates in the polity and that is why the Senate is determined to ensure through interactions and consultation with relevant offices, amicable settlement of the impasse is reached,” he stated.
Earlier, the Federal Goverment had asked the striking doctors to reconsider their action and return to work, adding that serious efforts were being made to address their key demands
In the same vein, the Nigerian Medical Association, the umbrella body of doctors in Nigeria had said there was the need for the resident doctors to allow for more dialogue and for the Federal Goverment to eschew punitive measures in the handling of the dispute.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Daju Katchalon said the government had made spirited efforts to stop the resident doctors from going to strike but that it appeared they are hell-bent on endangering the lives of innocent Nigerians.
She said apart from pleading with the young doctors to allow the new administration settle down to business, the government has taken sincere steps to address their key demands.
Apart from writing to the president for his intervention in the payment of 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund, she said a committee had been at up to draw up the policy framework for handling the issue of replacement of exited doctors from the system.
“The health sector is a very, very important sector. Not that any other sector is not important. They are all important but we all know what medical doctors are to us,” she added.
The Permanent Secretary further said that the parent ministry, Federal Ministry of Health alongside other government agencies are working hand in glove to ensure that this matter is sorted out.
On the implementation of the “No work, No Pay directive, the Permanent Secretary said she cannot say what would be the fate of the doctors.
She also said she cannot give a timeframe for the conclusion of the negotiations on the grievances of the doctors.
On its part, the NMA urged the government to quickly conclude measures to resolve all areas of disagreement with the resident doctors and eschew all punitive responses in the interest of industrial harmony.
In a statement signed by its National President, Uche Ojinmah, the NMA said as the umbrella body for all doctors including the NARD, it would as a matter of policy protect and promote her interest.
“It is our belief that this avoidable labour dispute has gone on for far too long to the detriment of the common Nigerian citizen.
“We hereby call on our government to quickly conclude measures to resolve all areas of disagreement and eschew all punitive responses in the interest of industrial harmony.
“NMA also calls on NARD to extend a gesture of goodwill towards the government in the interest of our suffering patients and fellow citizens. Let’s put aside all obstacles (contrived or real) towards speedy resolution of this dispute for the love of the nation,” it added.
NARD had in its letter dated August 5, 2023, titled: “Notice of Nationwide Mass Protests and Picketing” vowed that resident doctors will embark on a nationwide protest and picketing of offices of the Federal Ministry of Health all federal tertiary health institutions beginning from today.
The doctors had said their action became necessary to press home their demands which according to them, had been neglected by the parent Ministry and the Federal Goverment.