The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) says it has shelved its planned strike and will continue negotiating with President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime and other stakeholders over its demands.
“Having critically examined the situation, the NEC resolved that we should step down the ultimatum that was issued to the government and also reaffirm our commitment to continue to deliver adequate and quality health services to the Nigerian populace,” said the resident doctors.
NARD’s president, Dare Ishaya, disclosed this on Thursday. He said the decision was taken on Wednesday during the association’s extraordinary National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.
“When we examined those issues yesterday, we discovered that the 2022 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) had been released, and the payment was effected on Tuesday. Most of our members have already gotten their alert,” said Mr Ishaya. “Regarding the issue of the implementation of the new hazard allowance, we also found out that the ministry of finance has approved the release of funds for the payment.”
Mr Ishaya, however, said the association would continue negotiations with all relevant authorities to resolve amicably other contentious issues.
“We do not want to plunge the Nigerian masses into unnecessary hardship because the hardship in the country is already enough for them, so we felt that we should not add to the inflictions that the Nigerian masses are passing through,” the resident doctors’ leader stressed. “So the resolution of the emergency NEC meeting is that we should suspend our ultimatum and continue negotiations with the federal government until the other contentious issues are conclusively resolved.”
He mentioned that a communique to that effect would soon be released.
The resident doctors had issued several ultimatums to the Buhari regime to implement the payment of the new hazard allowance and arrears it stipulated as of December 22, 2021.
The said allowance is contained in the circular issued by National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) dated December 22, 2021, with reference number SWC/S/04/S.218/11/406. Other issues include the payment of the skipping arrears for 2014, 2015, and 2016 to deserving members and consequential adjustment of the minimum wage to members who were deprived since it was implemented.
The resident doctors also called for the immediate review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and other related allowances in line with the agreed terms from the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
In July, NARD gave Buhari’s regime a two-week ultimatum to commence payment of the newly-reviewed Medical Residency Training Fund and hazard allowance, among other demands.
The association threatened an indefinite strike if their demands were not met at the end of the two weeks. However, the ultimatum was extended by another two weeks on August 21, which elapsed on September 5.
In 2021, the association embarked on a strike over the unavailability of medical equipment in public tertiary hospitals and staff welfare for two months, ignoring an order by the National Industrial Court to call it off.