The National Association of Resident Doctors has slammed the federal government for trying to punish them following the commencement of an indefinite strike.
The association had on Monday embarked on an indefinite strike to protest the lack of readiness of the government to meet the demands of doctors.
The demands of the Association include payment of outstanding doctors’ salaries and hazard allowances, enrolment of doctors in the Integrated Personal Payroll Information Systems, amongst others.
It had also decried that only four percent of the total budget is being allocated to the health sector, while over 20 percent are spent on salaries for public servants.
The Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire had said that NARD was using the anxiety surrounding the third wave of COVID-19 to push its demands.
The Minister said that seven out of the twelve demands presented by NARD were within the jurisdiction of the state governments, and were not justifiable cause for a nationwide strike.
Speaking at ‘Sunrise Daily’ programme, aired on Channels Television on Friday, the National President of NARD, Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, said that Nigeria currently do not have any good functional hospitals, with every basic equipment.
According to him, Nigerian trained doctors are continually seeking ways to run to other countries where they can have access to better working environment and security.
He said, “Now, we have a brain drain or a brainstorm where all doctors are running to Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the United States to get better things to work with, to get better insurance, to get better security.
“You have not thought of how to develop the hospitals we have but instead, you are thinking of how to punish NARD that gave you a strike notice of 117 days because you are not doing your job.
“In other climes, those people should resign from their job and let competent hands handle what is happening.”
Uyilawa, speaking further said that Nigerians should hold the federal government responsible for the ongoing industrial action by the resident doctors in the country.
According to him, the association commenced on the strike action after several months of notice sent to the government.
He said, “Today (Friday) makes 117 days since we gave notice of strike and that means we gave enough notice to the government. Initially, a strike ultimatum was given on January 1, which is 180 days ago before we had this problem.
“You (government) signed an agreement with us; you told us that you are going to make everything work but as it stands, nothing has been achieved by them.
“The basic thing any Nigerian wants is good healthcare. Tell us any zone in Nigeria where we have good functional hospitals, where every basic thing is there.”
He said that the government and the ministry of health are not doing enough for Nigerians, adding that most doctors were being owed up to eight months salaries.
“Has the ministers, permanent secretaries and directors not been paid their salaries? And they expect a young man just starting his career not to be paid for seven months and those in state institutions not being paid for eight months and you expect them to provide better services? It is a wrong concept.
“We lost 19 doctors to COVID-19 and the basic thing is to try and make the health system functional. All we ask for is that our minimum requirement be met. Let the health requirement be functional.
“Let our people that have died, their next of kin get the benefits so that their husbands or wives that died do not die in vain while serving the nation. Let the people that have been owed salaries be paid. The scheme of service brought in by the head of service be withdrawn,” he added.