Nigeria’s federal government has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to halt the five-day nationwide warning strike of resident doctors.
As part of the resolution of the dispute, the federal government agreed to adopt the ASUU template for doctors’ pay rise.
A statement by the Director, Press, and Public Relations,
Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. Mr. Olajide Oshundun said the MoU was signed at the end of a conciliation meeting convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige in his office on Friday.
Resident doctors had declared a five-day warning strike beginning from Wednesday to protest the alleged refusal of the federal government to respond to their demands for a welfare package.
According to Oshundun, the meeting, which lasted for about five hours addressed all the eight issues raised by the striking resident doctors.
These include the non-payment of salaries of doctors by state governments, domestication of the reviewed Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) for the year 2023, the bill at the National Assembly on the bonding of doctors for five years before licensing, the circular on immediate replacement of exited doctors, and immediate payment of the 2023 MRTF. The others are arrears of Consequential Adjustment on Minimum Wage, Skipping Arrears, and the review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
In the MoU made available to journalists after the meeting, the parties agreed that health is on the Residual List and not the Concurrent List of the Constitution, and hence, the federal government cannot compel the state governments to effect the payment of salaries and allowances in the health sector.
“Consequently, NMA and NARD were advised to embrace more persuasion and social dialogue at the state level.
On the issue of Abia State where doctors have been on strike for several months over perennial non-payment of salaries, the meeting noted that the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has taken the matter to the National Council on Health (NCoH) in Abuja, which looked into the matter and asked the Abia State Government to pay up for good health delivery to the people.
“They equally agreed that the states cannot be compelled to domesticate the MRTF and must not pay the same amount being paid by the federal government. They advised NARD to reach out to states that are not paying and negotiate with them, even if the rates are lower than that of the Federal Government MRTF”.
On the bill of bonding of doctors for five years before licensing, sponsored by Hon. Ganiyu Johnson from Lagos State at the National Assembly, the meeting also agreed that the executive arm of government cannot interfere with it, being a private member’s bill and not an executive bill.
The meeting therefore resolved to await the public hearing for the bill, where the doctors will deal with the bill through the NMA, to ensure it does not see the light of day.
Similarly, on the replacement of exited doctors, the meeting noted that the recommendations of the Federal Ministry of Health Brain Drain Committee have been forwarded to the office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OSGF) for further action.
The OSGF was directed to engage all stakeholders by Wednesday, May 24, 2023, on the matter to ensure the approval of the implementation plan on or before June 5, 2023, for transmission to teaching hospitals and federal medical centres for implementation.
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja