The House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services on Friday held a marathon meeting with the Federal Government and leadership of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors as well as other stakeholders over the ongoing nationwide strike by doctors.
After the closed-door meeting that lasted five hours, the committee and the Federal Ministry of Health pleaded with the doctors to suspend their industrial action in the interest of the poor masses who cannot afford health services in private facilities.
Chairman of the committee, Tanko Sununu, while briefing journalists after the meeting, disclosed that the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, is to meet with the NARD on Tuesday in the efforts by the lawmakers to resolve the dispute between the government and the doctors.
Sununu said, “It is a very contentious issue and it took long because we tried to address the issues one by one and we came out with some resolutions. One of the resolutions is that as of today because there are so many infractions, we have decided to constitute three basic committees.
“One of the committees is to sort out the issue of House Officers and they are to commence work with immediate effect, and submit the authenticated list to the IPPIS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System) office within 24 hours so that payment of those who have been omitted would be done with immediate effect.
“The other committee is to be headed by a director in the Ministry of Labour (Employment and Productivity), with membership from Ministry of Health, NARD, IPPIS, and Committee of CMDs (Chief Medical Directors) to look at all the infractions that were noticed, involving multiple payments and other issues; to also suggest punitive measures to be meted out on those who have acted wrongly. That would also have to commence work immediately and submit the report to the Federal Ministry of Health, to be copied to the committee for necessary actions to be taken.”
Sununu also said the committee resolved that the affected House Officers must be paid within the shortest possible time.
He said, “The NARD made it clear that in the last four months, the members of the association were wrongly paid to the tune of N308m and the money has been with the NARD. They have been following the necessary organs of the government to ensure that the money is paid back into the government treasury, but the account was not given to them.
“At this meeting, we resolved and the account was forwarded to the President of NARD for onward transmission to members so that the money would be paid back to the government account.”
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, also said, “You have seen that we have had a very robust meeting and discussion for close to five hours today and he (Sununu) has given you the highlights of the discussion. The ministry is 100 per cent in alignment with the decisions reached.”
When asked if the strike would be called off soon, Abdullahi said, “We are pleading with the doctors to look into the issue and see reason. Nigerians are suffering. Just like he (Sununu) said, not everybody can afford to, in the event of anybody falling ill, go to a private hospital.
“So, we want them to see reasons; to see humanity. The essence of the medical profession is to save life, because this strike is going to the ninth day today. So, we plead with them; we urge them to please consider Nigerians and consider the oath they have taken to save lives.”
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