The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) says that the federal government owes legally recruited doctors salaries, contrary to the claims of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.
The NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, stated this Thursday during a virtual interview with our reporter.
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Ngige had during the meeting of the Presidential Committee on Salaries with the leadership of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) Tuesday said that the federal government did not owe members of the NARD but only those recruited illegally.
Countering the minister, Okhuaihesuyi said doctors referred to by Ngige had been receiving payments for three years until January when the non-regular payment platform was closed.
He said the doctors’ employment was necessitated by the gap created in hospitals by brain drain in the health sector.
He said,” Permit me to explain to Nigerians at home and abroad the inefficiencies of the Ministry of Health and Labour. All across the country, brain drain became worse owing majorly to insecurity and poor remuneration.
“At the peak of this about three years ago, most hospitals across the county became short-staffed. They approached the agencies in charge of recruitment processes in the country. Now at that point owing to the daintiness of bureaucratic processes it takes between six to 18 months.
“Since the chief medical directors have the mandate to ensure that the hospitals are running, they met with their various boards and Federal Character Commission in line with their budgets on their non-regular platform and engaged doctors.
“They have been paying them for these past three years until January when the non-regular payment platform was closed.”
The NARD president said it was unfortunate that the minister referred to them as illegal workers.
He said, “These are parents that their emoluments have been withheld and have delivered services for these past three years and are owed now for six to nine months. House officers who have worked for over seven months are the people he called illegal (workers).”
Responding to the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora ‘s stance that the ongoing pandemic was a wrong time for NARD to go on strike , Dr Okhuaihesuyi said every action must have an equal and opposite reaction.
He said, “This is a law of physics. However, it applies to our daily lives. Where was the Minister of state when we lost 19 of our members to COVID-19 pandemic without payment of Death in Service Benefits? Where was the minister when over 2,000 of our members were left without salaries for six months in a pandemic?
“What was his role in ensuring our doctor’s welfare is taken as a matter of necessity when the government is supposed to ensure health workers get their monthly emoluments?”