By Uche Amunike
Even though the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen, Saturday, intervened with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu concerning the impending resident doctors strike action by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the association kicked off their indefinite strike at noon on Wednesday, as instructed by their National Executive Council, during their meeting held on Tuesday night.
Recall that Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen already met with the president, asking him to intervene in the matter in order to address the issues in question. Although the Tinubu-led government assured that they were already looking into the demands of the striking resident doctors and finding ways to resolve them, NARD said that the government had not called them for a meeting and explained that the government’s response would affect how long the strike would last.
Presently, the President of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), has confirmed that they have complied with the the resident doctors strike already. According to the president, Association of Resident Doctors at the teaching hospital, ARD-LASUTH, Dr Salmon Abeeb, all their members already complied with the instructions given by the national body.
Hear him: ‘We are not working at LASUTH. However, our consultants and the medical students are there working. The NARD President is currently in LASUTH. We are hosting the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, programme, so all doctors in Nigeria are in LASUTH.’
According to him, the Lagos State chapter of the association were yet to meet with the governor of the state and are open for dialogue. His words: ‘In Lagos, we are yet to meet the governor of the state as NARD is open for discussion. We are open to meet with anybody who can assist in getting the issue resolved on time. We know the peculiarities and the dangers in the declaration of strike. But, I am sorry that this is the only language government understands.’
While addressing press men during an interview, the National President of NARD, Dr Emeka Orji stated that the government has still not invited them to any meeting. He assured that the issues that they were concerned about were purposeful and could be resolved in a few days.
He also denies the reports that President Tinubu pleaded with them not to embark on the strike, stating that there was no evidence to prove It.
He further explained that in order to call off the strike, the federal government was expected to at least attend to three of their major demands which include immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund MRTF and the immediate release of the circular on one-for-one replacement of every doctor and nurse that have left as a result of brain drain.
Speaker Abbas, who already met with the president asked him to wade into the matter and try to address the issues at stake. During the interaction with the president, Abbas appealed for a two week reprieve in order for the House leadership to resolve the issues raised. He formed an ad hoc committee which was chaired by the leader of the house, Professor Julius Ihonvbere with an instruction to meet with all stakeholders and resolve the matter promptly.
The panel is made-up of the past Chairman of the 9th House Committee on Healthcare Services, Tanko Sununu of APC, Kebbi as Deputy Chairman, while all medical practitioners in the house were co-opted into the ad hoc committee.
In the meantime, the federal government has assured that they were looking into the demands of the striking doctors.