President Muhammadu Buhari has said doctors’ outstanding benefits would not be paid until a verification exercise is carried out.
He also said that hazard allowance would be reviewed after the “deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors” is resolved.
The president said this during a meeting with officials of the Nigeria Medical Association at the State House, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled, ‘Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, says president Buhari to doctors’.
Buhari faulted the doctor’s industrial action, saying, “The lives of citizens that could be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences.”
The president added, “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 learnt that some of the 12-point demand in the ongoing strike was 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.’’
President Buhari said the outstanding issue of an Establishment circular issued by the Head of Service, removing House officers, NYSC Doctors from scheme of service had an addendum circular from National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they will continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure.
Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, had declared indefinite strike action since Monday, August 2, 2021.
The National President of NARD, Dr. Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, while announcing the strike on July 31, cited the inability of the Federal Government to implement the agreements it entered with the union 113 days after it suspended the previous strike as a reason for the industrial action.
Other reasons for the strike according to the NARD boss include the poor working environment in public hospitals, irregular payment of doctors salaries and hazard allowances of N5000 which was reviewed last in 1991.
He said there was no backing down on the strike unless the Government met all the demands of the union.