FG, National Assembly Meet Aggrieved Doctors Ahead Of Planned Protest Today

In an effort to prevent a planned statewide demonstration and picketing of the Federal Ministry of Health and other government institutions, the Federal Government met behind closed doors with executives of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) yesterday.

NARD President Innocent Orji told The Guardian that Special Adviser to the President on Health Dr. Salma Anas-Kolo led the government's team throughout the talks, despite the fact that the outcome of the meeting remained unclear.

He stated that there will be another meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly, and he added that the specifics of both of those meetings would be disclosed late last night.

NARD has threatened to begin daily peaceful protests and picketing of the Federal Ministry of Health, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, and all federal and state tertiary health institutions across the country beginning at 10:00 a.m. today. This threat was made on Saturday evening.

The planned action was in response to a circular that was issued by the Federal Ministry of Health. The circular instructed the management of federal tertiary hospitals to begin enforcing a 'no work, no pay' policy against the striking doctors. The action that was planned followed this circular.

The doctors wrote in a letter headed "Notice of Nationwide Mass Protest and Picketing by NARD" that they felt it was important to take action in order to force home their requests, which the government reportedly had largely overlooked. The letter also stated that the action had become necessary.

They stated that it hurt them deeply that the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, had chosen to demonize doctors rather than make serious efforts to fix the issues that led to the industrial action, despite the fact that they had repeatedly given the Federal Government ultimatums.

According to NARD, the administration was given ample opportunity to resolve the issues at hand before today.
The following is an excerpt from the letter: "We have resolved that it is time the whole world hears our side of the story – the decay and corruption in the health sector, as well as the neglect public health institutions have suffered all these years that led to repeated industrial actions."

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Earlier yesterday, Kachollom Daju, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, claimed that the 'no work, no pay' policy will be implemented with NARD.
Daju, who revealed this information in Abuja, characterized the strategy as an international best practice, and he stated that the government will not abandon the policy in the process of resolving its industrial dispute with NARD.

Kachollom stated that the Federal Government was still appealing to the doctors to abandon their planned action and adopt a peaceful conclusion, despite the fact that Kachollom had promised that any unresolved concerns will be resolved as soon as ministers are nominated.

It is impossible to find a solution to all of the problems right away because they have monetary repercussions. The National Executive Council cannot operate unless all of the ministers have been appointed to their positions. The council has not yet been established at this time. "Which organization is going to grant the required approvals?" she questioned.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, has given assurances to Nigerian doctors working outside the country who are interested in returning to the country that the Nigerian Army is ready to incorporate them into its hospitals.

Lagbaja provided this reassurance as Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), and other members of the commission's top management team were present at the Army Headquarters in Abuja.

The Chief of Army Staff has stated that the army will cooperate fully with the advocacy efforts of NiDCOM to bring the brightest minds from the diaspora back to the country to assist in the development of diverse industries.

He noted that during his time in the Diaspora, he saw that Nigeria has some of the most talented medical professionals in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and South Africa. He emphasized that the army that he commands will be willing to hire them if they decide to return to Nigeria.

Jenny Young

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