From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to take charge of the negotiations with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to end the on-going industrial action which has entered its third week.
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) made the call in a press statement titled: “Resident Doctor’s cyclic strikes”, issued by the NAS Capoon, Mr Abiola Owoaje.
Mr Owoaje who saluted members of NARD for their patience for 113 days and their patriotism and dedication to duty bemoaned the insensitivity on the part of the federal government to the plight of the doctors.
“It is bewildering that, despite being aware that resident doctors constitute a critical element of healthcare delivery in the country, the federal government could not prevent this industrial action by fulfilling an agreement it voluntarily signed. It is irresponsible and dishonourable to habitually break promises made to employees. More baffling is that the government would allow this shut-down by resident doctors in the midst of a third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic and an outbreak of Cholera which, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has as August 17, 2021 claimed 1,178 lives in 23 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Nigerians are dying needlessly as the effects of the strike bites harder,” he said.
Owoaje while expressing reservation with the handling of negotiations by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chirs Ngige declared that Nigerian has fared worse in all health indices under the current administration.
He tasked President Buhari to use the remaining 18 months in his tenure to turn around the fortunes of Nigeria’s health sector.
“To reverse this trend and urgently too, President Muhammadu Buhari should take immediate charge of negotiations with NARD and ensure the implementation of agreements reached. Dr. Ngige should change his attitude of confrontational grandstanding, at the expense of the lives of vulnerable Nigerians and withdraw the case instituted by the Ministry of Labour at the Industrial Court, in order to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiation and resolution.
The Resident Doctors are not making extraordinary demands. The monies being owed are pittance, compared to the huge public funds committed to wasteful ventures by the government. President Buhari should seize the opportunity of the 18 months left of his tenure to leave an enduring legacy in
the health sector. He should ensure that the health sector is allocated the required 15% of the total national budget, as contained in the Abuja Charter agreed to by African Union members in 2001. This would go a long way to address some of the fundamental problems bedevilling the health sector. It is not too late for the President to act.”