Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has given assurance that Resident Doctors strike will end soon.
Ngige, disclosed that the Federal Government would do everything possible to end the ongoing nationwide strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), which has paralysed activities in government-owned hospitals nationwide.
He gave the assurance while addressing the Nigerian Health Commissioners’ Forum Quarterly meeting on Friday, September 3, in Abuja.
In a statement by Mr Charles Akpan, Deputy Director, Press, and Public Relations in the Ministry, Ngige, recalled that the doctors were “sleeping on their rights until COVID-19 pandemic broke out last year” and the Federal Government felt that the N5,000 hazard allowance paid to them since 1991 was too paltry.
Ngige, said the Federal Government paid the doctors and other health workers “bumper money” as a special COVID hazard allowance for three months in the first instance, to the tune of N32 billion and that states were told to pay as much as they could afford.
“In September 2020, they put a notice of strike, asking for Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF); by which each of them will get N542,000 to cover the cost of books and journals for that particular examination; transportation; and also lodging for three days.
“Luckily, a supplementary budget was being put together; and it was included and was paid to them. They called off the strike.
“By March this year, they listed other things again. They said the Residency Training Fund is not in the 2021 budget.
”They also needed the hazard allowance to be upgraded; and demanded that States should domesticate Residency Training Act.
“They said some states owed their people long months of salaries. They also wanted skipping allowance; and arrears of consequential adjustment to minimum wage.
“Before we could say, Jack Robinson, they went on strike on April 1. I thought it was April fool until April 2 when we didn’t see them at work.
“I told them that, they didn’t give the mandatory 21 days notice to their employers who have written to me to complain.
”However, we returned to the table. The government pledged that the 2021 Residency Training Fund will be captured in the supplementary budget. This has been done and payment is ready,” he said.