The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has expressed optimism that the striking workers under the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, across the country would soon resume duty.
The doctors had embarked on a nationwide strike on September 4, crippling all health services at secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities across the nation.
Mr. Adewole told PREMIUM TIMES that the government “has done what the resident doctors under the federal government asked for” and ‘this was to pay all outstanding salary arrears of the resident doctors to the bank accounts of institutions affected.’
“We have done that and we believe they should resume soon. We can only pay the money into the institutions’ accounts for them to disburse to the doctors, we cannot pay them individually as that would take a longer time.
“The only problem which shouldn’t be a problem is that we have told them we cannot solve that of resident doctors in the state. They have decided to put states’ resident doctors as part of their struggle and we cannot impose on state government to do same. We can only plead on their behalf with the states,” he said.
The leadership of the NARD is expected to meet later today, Tuesday, to appraise the response of the federal government to their demands.
The government and the leadership of NARD had met on September 6 and agreed to pay the arrears of the salaries latest September 8.
Mr. Adewole said the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the government and the leadership of NARD, agreed that the doctors would resume once the salaries have been paid.
Arikawe Adeolu, a member of the National Executive Council of NARD, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN in Abuja on Monday that the Tuesday meeting would allow the leadership to appraise events since its meeting with government.
Mr. Adeolu, who is also the General Secretary of NARD, Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Jabi, Abuja, said the outcome of the appraisal would determine whether the nationwide indefinite strike would be called off or not.
He said the appraisal was necessary as more than 90 per cent of members were yet to receive their arrears as at 3 p.m. on Monday.
He expressed optimism that the arrears would be paid as the federal government claims it had disbursed the arrears to the hospitals accordingly.
“We were supposed to hold a meeting on September 8 but it didn’t hold because the essence of the meeting was defeated.
“We thought that government would have paid by then but we got nothing. So, the meeting has been postponed to September 12. It will be a closed door meeting to carry out an appraisal of events so far.
“The federal government claims that money has been paid to the hospitals. So, we need to confirm from members across the country if they have received their salary arrears. Money is not usually paid directly to doctors; it is sent to the hospitals so what we are trying to do now is to verify whether the money has come into the hospitals for onward payment.
“Today and tomorrow is enough time for this money to be disbursed to doctors if it really has been paid. By tomorrow we should have a clear view of whether this money has been paid or not,” Mr. Adeolu said.
The doctors are also protesting the sack of some of their colleagues, non-payment of “skipping” entitlement, non-inclusion in the IPPIS platform and non-payment of their salary arrears, among other demands.