At its meeting in Benin, the NMA expressed anger about the no-work-no-pay order of the government against the resident doctors.
In an interview with Nigeria Standard, the health minister said doctors should not be seen to be going on strikes at a time when the citizens were facing dangerous threats to lives.
One of our correspondents had asked him if there were plans by the health ministry to invite the NMA to forestall the looming total strike by all affiliates of the association.
Amid rising COVID-19 cases, which hit 189,715 on Saturday with 2,298 deaths, and the upsurge in cholera cases in the country, Ehanire stated in a text exchange with our correspondent, “The Ministry of Health isn’t the employer of the doctors. The Federal Government of Nigeria is and it pays doctors by a central Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
“The Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Labour engaged the Nigerian Medical Association to mediate in the NARD talks.
“Doctors shouldn’t choose a time the citizens face such dangerous threats to lives to go on strike. I appeal to doctors again to resume duty while talks go on.”
But the National President of NARD, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, in an interview with Nigeria Standard on Sunday, said despite the strike notice issued by the doctors, the Federal Government had yet to reach out to them.
Okhuaihesuyi told one of our correspondents that health workers usually resorted to strike as a result of the government’s failure to meet their demands.
He stated “As of now, the government has not reached out to us since the ultimatum was given by the NMA. The government pushed us into taking this decision. It is not our fault.
“Their failure to meet our demands pushed us into taking this decision. Even at that, no demand has been met.”
FG rejects NMA’s 21-day ultimatum, says it’s against MoA
The Ministry of Labour and Employment, in a statement on Sunday, faulted the 21-day ultimatum given by the NMA.
The statement by the spokesman of the ministry, Charles Akpan, said the Federal Government “is religiously implementing its own side of the agreement with effective monitoring by the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment,” adding that the NMA had yet to “move a needle” on the roles assigned to it in the agreement.
Reacting to the NMA’s threat in the statement titled, ‘Labour ministry to NMA: Your 21-day ultimatum in collision with our MoA’, the government argued that the body’s position was at variance with the timeline stated in the Memorandum of Agreement.
It said, “First is that the NMA communiqué in Benin, which issued a 21-day ultimatum, is at variance with the timeline in articles II, Vii, Vii and X of the MoA.
“Importantly, Article II on the payment of the outstanding hazard allowance from the 2020 Medical Residency Training Fund states that the fund will be paid after verification and reconciliation of figures from the BOF. Till now, both NARD and the Postgraduate Medical College are yet to submit the validated application for the eligible doctors missed out in 2020 to enable this payment.
“Article Vii on the withdrawal of the circular from the Office of the Head of Service removing house and NYSC doctors from the scheme of service says, ‘The NMA should submit her position immediately to the FMOH PS for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with a view to processing and issuance of clarification circular within two months’. The NMA has yet to comply with this.”
Akpan submitted that the technical committee set up in article Vii to tackle the backlog of arrears on the government Integrated Financial Management Information System was given four weeks, effective Monday, August 31, 2021, to round off its assignment, querying if this was not a collision with the 21-day ultimatum.
He added, “Also, article X of the MoU also states that the Nigerian Medical Association should facilitate the withdrawal of suits by the Medical and Dental Doctors in Academics against the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission and the Accountant-General of the Federation to ensure the amicable resolution of the issues. The NMA has yet to do this, yet issuing a fresh ultimatum.
“It is, therefore, clear that the 21-day ultimatum will neither assist the NMA discharge the role assigned to it in the MoA nor facilitate the faithful implementation of the timeline, which the Federal Government has given every attention.”
The government advised the NMA to play its role “as the guardian of its affiliate associations instead of descending into the arena for needless fear of impeachment.”