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Striking doctors give FG 72 hours to pay withheld salaries

The striking doctors also criticise the federal government for taking them to court over the ongoing strike to demand.

Striking Nigerian doctors during a protest

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the Federal Government to pay the salary arrears of its members on the GIFMIS platform, and that of its Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF).

The association said for its strike action which started in August to be called off, the government needs to meet its minimum demands.

The demands include payment of withheld August and September salaries, withdrawal of the case against it in court, payment of salary arrears and allowances owed its members in state tertiary health institutions, among others.

NARD President, Dr. Dare Ishaya made this known in a statement at the end of the Association’s 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Conference in Bauchi.

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“The AGM faulted the federal government for taking NARD to court due to the ongoing strike to demand improvement in the welfare of our members,’’ Ishaya said.

He said the AGM also, “lamented the delay in payment of the Medical Residency training Fund despite the claim by the government that the money meant for it is available and the list of beneficiaries have been submitted.

“The AGM noted the explanatory circular from Salaries, Income and Wages Commission stating that House officers’ salary scale and wages will not be affected by their removal from the scheme of service, however, they reiterated their earlier position that the circular should be withdrawn.

“They also observed that some House Officers are still owed 1–2 months salaries and refunds of their illegally deducted accommodation fees. The AGM noted that the bench fee for outside postings by Resident Doctors has been abolished, however, some chief medical directors are yet to fully implement it.

“The AGM bemoaned the delay in payment of death in service insurance benefit to the next of kin of our fallen heroes despite their sacrifices to the country.

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“They observed with concerns the conditions of our members under different state governments’ employs, especially Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo state governments who currently owe our members twenty (20) months, six (6) months, four (4) months and four (4) months’ salary arrears respectively.”

He added that following a critical appraisal of the performances of both federal and state governments on all the issues that led to the ongoing strike, the AGM had unanimously resolved by vote to continue the total and indefinite strike action until doctors' demands are met.

According to him, the AGM has asked the federal government to ensure the payment of the Medical Residency Training within 72 hours since the government claimed the money for the training is available.

“The AGM, in particular, demanded that the federal government should ensure the following urgently for the purpose of restoring normalcy to the health sector: Payment of the Medical Residency Training within 72 hours, since the money meant for it is available and verification of the list for payment has been completed; Payment of the arrears of salaries of our members on GIFMIS platform within 72 hours while the migration process continues; Withdrawal of the case against us in court in the interest of peace; Payment of our withheld August and September salaries.

“The federal government should prevail on various state governments to urgently pay arrears of salaries and allowances owed our members in the state tertiary health institutions as stated above, he said.

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Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari had recently urged the striking doctors to return to work.

The President said that embarking on industrial action at a time Nigerians needed them the most was not the best action.

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