The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has rejected the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) proposed by the federal government to address the issues that led to their ongoing strike.
Speaking to a source in THISDAY last night after a meeting with the federal government’s team held at the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja, the National President of NARD, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi said that the association refused to sign the MoU and has decided to proceed with the case at the Industrial Court.
“We rejected the MoU. We did not sign it because we are being punished for the failures of the government,” he said.
The meeting with the FG team which started on Friday got adjourned to yesterday but failed to persuade the striking doctors to return to work.
When pressed further for the reasons for their action, Okhuaihesuyi said he wouldn’t like to say more because their case was pending at the court.
The federal government yesterday proposed a new MoU with the NARD on the implementation of the demands by the striking resident doctors.
While briefing journalists in Abuja yesterday on the outcome of the engagement with the leadership of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), NARD, and other affiliate associations, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said the MoU addressed the several complaints by the doctors including; non-payment of the salaries of some house officers on the IPPIS platform, non-payment of medical residency training fund (MRTF) outstanding for 2020 and the current 2021 allocation and non-payment of salaries of some house officers on IPPIS.
He said other issues dealt with under the MoU were the payment of arrears of consequential adjustment on National Minimum Wage and abolition of bench fees, delay in the review of hazard allowances.
Other issues addressed are the non-payment of skipping allowance for 2014, 2015, 2016; withdrawal of a circular from the Office of Head of Service; removal of house officers and NYSC doctors from the scheme of service; non-payment of salaries of doctors and residents on GFMIS and the issue of their migration to IPPIS and non-payment of outstanding COVID-19 allowance for 2020 for some medical doctors in government clinics and hospitals.
Following the new deal, Ngige said: “The government side has given undertaken that it will be processed in one week. And therefore, the meeting agreed that by next Friday, August 27, residents in institutions would have started getting their money”.
He said the amount to be paid is about N542, 000 per person.
On the issue of house officers, the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) had explained that as of yesterday, he had about 2,800 house officers on his platform because of the new house officers training scheme.
Ngige explained that MDCN now handles the placement of House Officers and managing them in terms of their remuneration for the one-year internship programme.
He stated that the 114 House Officers which NMA and NARD cited were suspected to be those who had not done their revalidation for the month, adding that the system requires that by the 15th of every month, the doctors must revalidate their stay in the horsemanship training programme.
According to him, NARD is expected now to submit the list of those 114 officers for further verification, adding that after further verification and they are genuine house officers, and their IPPIS particulars and BVN are in order, they will be paid in September with the outstanding arrears.
On the dispute over the residency training fund that was outstanding for 2020 and 2021, Ngige said the agreement was also reached after the Budget Office had explained that in 2020, the outstanding to be paid was N617, 429, 121.
He said reconciliation is to be done on it because the 2020 payment had some errors.
“Some people who are not supposed to benefit from the fund got money and because of that, the number of genuine people that were not paid also came to the quantum of persons. So, some reconciliation is being done”.
He added that some monies were being returned because the people themselves have agreed to do so.
“So, we have given a timeline for this reconciliation to be done. And for 2021, the money approved by Government is N4.802 billion. This money like I said earlier was contained in the supplementary 2021 budget, which the President signed on the eve of his departure for the meeting in the UK. So, between that time and now, it became a money law. The funds have now been sourced and it has gotten from the CBN to the Budget Office and from the Budget Office, we expect it to be processed,” he said.
Regarding the issue of abolition of bench fees, Ngige said there was evidence to show that it was only in one teaching hospital where the fee was being charged.
He, however, said that a circular has been issued about a month ago to all Teaching Hospitals on the matter, adding, “that if there is anybody who paid it since the issuance of the circular, he should make a claim for refund and get it immediately”.
The minister said that the discussion on hazard allowance was still ongoing and that the federal government wants to firm it up.
He said the government had agreed to hold separate meetings with the two major unions in the health sector on the issue of hazard allowance due to the peculiarities of their job.