The Federal Government on Friday raised hopes of early end to the on-going strike action by medical doctors with the release of N4.5 billion to 31 Federal Teaching and Medical Centres across the country for the payment of hazard and inducement allowances for the month of April and May.
Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Ngige who was accompanied by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, said that the money was released early morning of Friday.
He disclosed that they went to brief President Buhari on the strike embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
NARD had on Sunday directed its members to stop work over the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, and poor remuneration of members as they battle the raging Coronavirus pandemic.
Said Ngige, “Just this morning, before we went to see Mr President, the Ministry of Finance reported that as at 3 am, they have paid the allowances for hazard and inducement to 31 teaching and Federal Medical Centres and specialist hospitals of the federal government service.
“And they have expended close to N4.5 billion in the payment because we are paying them the arrears of April and May. The payment for June will also be done immediately these ones are sorted out.
“Again, it’s important to report to you that in consonance with what he’s saying, we have arranged a meeting for them to speak to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum because you don’t mix apples and oranges.
“The issue of health is on the concurrent list, so the federal government will do its own and the state government will be expected to do their own. Some of their grievances border on what they feel the state governments have not done.”
The Minister of Health, Dr Ehanire in his contribution said: “We hope that there is a solution in sight; what we have done is to brief the President of the country, who as we all know has the final responsibility for everything that goes on in government.
“In this particular case, it has been important to report to him how things have been because of the strike action of resident doctors.
“We have to report to him the implications and the possible consequences of such a strike action.
“He listened to us carefully, of course, he is not happy that it has come this way and we all hope that it would be resolved after all the demands that were made have been resolved.
“The Minister of Labour has listed those demands and how all of them have been fulfilled except those of them which are not within our ambit.”
The Ministers expressed optimism that the resident doctors’ strike will be suspended as soon as possible.
Ngige also commented on the strike notice issued by the three university-based unions after the lockdown because of the issues on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, saying he was in talks with the Accountant General of the Federation on how to resolve the matter. He also said that he planned to have a meeting with the leadership of the three unions, the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions, NASU.