President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, September 10, has appealed to striking Doctors and other health workers to go back to work as the nation’s health sector is suffering and fragile.
He also urged others contemplating strikes to opt for settlement of issues by negotiation, no matter how long it takes.
Buhari, while hosting members of the Nigeria Medical Association , NMA, at the State House, Abuja, on Friday noted that the lives of citizens that can be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences.
He promised that all outstanding benefits owed to medical doctors would be cleared after verifications, noting that embarking on industrial action at a critical health period for the country and citizens was not a good option.
He said: “Protecting our citizens is not to be left to government alone; but taken as a collective responsibility, in which especially medical professionals play a critical role.
“Let me speak directly to the striking doctors. Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.
“This Administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers; pensioners; and contractors; and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations, once due verification is done. Debts genuinely owed Health workers will be settled.
“I learned that some of the 12 points demand in the ongoing strike were already addressed. Though the Review of a new Hazard Allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors.’’
The president said the outstanding issue of an Establishment circular issued by the Head of Service; removing House officers, NYSC Doctors from the scheme of service had an addendum circular; from the National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they would continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure.
“I request that the agreement reached in the meetings of 20th and 21st August captured in the MOU; which I have seen be religiously implemented,’’ he added.
Buhari revealed that budgetary allocations had been increased and a Health Sector Reform Committee; under the Chairmanship of the Vice President, had been inaugurated.
The committee will identify and address weaknesses in the Health System; and align it with global best practices that raise public confidence.