The ongoing face-off between the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Federal Government descended into new lows on Wednesday, with accusations and counter-accusations from both sides.
The Federal Government had stated earlier in the day that it paid the salary arrears of 1,000 House officers and directed the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to open the recruitment portal.
This was confirmed by the Labour and Employment Minister Dr. Chris Ngige.
Ngige, representing the federal government , said: “We have tried our best to address the issues raised. As of today, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) has paid the salary arrears of over 1,000 House Officers including those illegally recruited.
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“Clearly outside my schedule as the Minister of Labour and Employment, I was forced to go to the Accountant-General’s Office and Finance minister’s office for the payment of this money and it was paid 100 per cent even when the Ministry of Finance was releasing other budget items at 50 per cent because of low revenue receipt by the Federal Government.”
However, the NARD described the statement credited to Dr Ngige as “spurious misinformation”.
Admitting that some house officers had been paid, it said many of them are yet to be paid.
The association noted that the strike became imperative when it noticed that the Ministry of Health was not interested in any form of settlement to avert the strike.
The communique by NARD reads: “All other demands like the immediate payment of all salary arrears including march salaries for its members in all federal (GIFMIS platform) and state tertiary health institutions across the country, upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, payment of death in service insurance for all health workers who died as a result of COVID-19 infection or other infectious diseases, among other demands are yet to be met.
“We want to use this medium to reiterate our commitment to the smooth running of all tertiary institutions in the country and the provision of specialist healthcare to Nigerians, but we need to first of all care for our own health and welfare in order to give standard care to our patients. This is in line with our physician oath.”
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