THE Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire, has stated that states, rather than the federal government, are responsible for the ongoing strike by resident doctors under the aegis of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD); the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
NAN quoted the minister to have stated on Thursday at during a media press briefing in Abuja that most of the requests by the NARD are within the purview of state governments.
The association in June issued a four-week ultimatum to the federal government to meet its demands, failing which it would embark on an indefinite strike, a threat which the association carried out as it commenced the strike on Monday, August 2, 2021.
Some of the issues NARD raised include the migration of doctors from the GIFMIS platform to the IPPIS, the non-payment of house officers, inconsistency in the payment of salaries and non-payment of death benefits.
Dr Ehanire, however, accused NARD of capitalising on the anxiety around the third wave of Covid-19 to push its demands.
“Seven out of the 12 demands presented by NARD are within the jurisdiction of state governments. This is not a just move to call for a nationwide strike. In their notice dated 25th July, 2021, they mentioned states like Imo, Kaduna, Delta and Lagos. The federal government cannot force these states to do anything.
“For the issues surrounding the federal government, not all of these issues are for the Ministry of Health; the payment lies within the power of the Accountant-General of the Federation. We are also working with other agencies to sort out some of these issues,” Dr Ehanire said.
The minister also said he hoped the doctors would understand that going on strike now would not give them a good image.
Speaking on the brain drain being suffered by the country with the exodus of Nigerian doctors abroad, Dr Ehanire said “Nigeria is not the only one suffering from it, some other developing countries also suffer from it too. Because they studied in English, they easily get into those countries. We are also working to make sure that working conditions in Nigeria are favourable. That is why we are also working on the issues of hazard allowance.
The minister also denied threatening house officers with reposting. The Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Dr Tajudeen Sanusi, had in a statement, said house officers who embarked on strike would be reposted without pay.
However, the minister said: “MCDN did not threaten the house officers in any way. House officers are in their practical year; it is a year of study and it is for 12 months. They are paid for the 12 months and if they choose to stay away, it will affect the next batch. Some of them had issues with non-payment because of wrong details which were submitted.”