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HEALTH

FG Releases N4.5bn For Striking Doctors

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The federal government has released N4.5 billion to 31 teaching, Federal Medical Centres and specialist hospitals, in a bid to get striking resident doctors to end their industrial actions.

The minister of Labour and employment, Chris Ngige, disclosed this to State House correspondents yesterday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari alongside, minister of health, Osagie Ehanire and minister of state for labour, Festus Keyamo.

He explained that the payment covers allowances for hazard and inducement for the striking doctors.

According to him, ”Just this morning, before we went to see Mr President, the Ministry of Finance reported that as at this morning, 3am, they have paid the allowances for Federal Medical Centres and special hospitals of the federal government service and they have expended close to N4.5bn in the

payment because we are paying them the arrears of April and May.

“The payment for June will also be done immediately these ones are sorted out. Ngige further explained a meeting between the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and the resident doctors had been arranged

to thrash out issues regarding doctors in the state .

“Again, it’s important to report to you that in consonance with what he’s saying, we have arranged a meeting for them to speak to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum because you don’t mix apples and oranges.

“The issue of health is on the concurrent list, so the federal government will do its own and the state government will be expected to do their own. Some of their grievances border on what they feel the state governments have not done.

Ehanire on his part said: “We hope that there is a solution in sight; what we have done is to brief the President of the country, who as we all know has the final responsibility for everything that goes on in government. Those of us who are Ministers administer our ministries and have to report to him periodically.

“In this particular case, it has been important to report to him how things have been because of the strike action of resident doctors. We have to report to him the implications and the possible consequences of such a strike action.

“He listened to us carefully, of course he is not happy that it has come this way and we all hope that it would be resolved after all the demands that were made have been resolved.

“The minister of Labour has listed those demands and how all of them have been ful- filled except those of them which are not within our ambit.”

Recall that Nigerian doctors under the umbrella body of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike.

NARD president, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, attributed the industrial action to the failure of meetings held by representatives of the doctors’ union and the Nigerian government to resolve the lingering industrial disputes.

One of such is the non-payment of special allowances for the resident doctors. The union also expressed displeasure with the deplorable state of hospitals in addition to the lack of protective equipment for resident doctors that are treating COVID-19 patients.

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