Doctors’ strike: Reps invite Finance Minister next week

In its bid to proffer an enduring resolution of contending issues with resident doctors in the country, the leadership of the House of Representatives will next week invite the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed over the industrial action by the Nigerian resident doctors, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila disclosed on Tuesday.

According to Gbajabiamila, the meeting would be over how to ensure the execution of the Memorandum of Action entered into between the government and members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

The Speaker, while meeting with the executive of the NARD led by the President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi at the association’s secretariat in Abuja, assured that the House would ensure an amicable and acceptable resolution of the contentious hazard allowance issue as well as other contentious issues.

The resident doctors suspended the industrial action that began on April 1, 2021, after 10 days of its commencement.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker noted that though it was impossible to accommodate the hazard allowance in the 2021 National Budget, the House would work to ensure that it is included in the supplementary budget.

While commending the doctors for suspending the strike at the request of the House, the Speaker said, “Even the constitution talks about essential services, but there’s nothing as essential a service than that which seeks to save and protect lives.”

Saying that the House believes that “the labourer must earn his wages,” Gbajabiamila said “We’ll monitor issues being processed, the IPPIS, training fund, hazard allowances which the House championed at the peak of the Covid-19 crisis.

“All the issues will be addressed. We’re looking to come to a reasonable and acceptable hazard allowance as well as the training fund, which when the supplementary budget is introduced, we hope and expect to justify why this should be accommodated

“We will do everything we need to do to see how we can capture that.

“We are inviting Finance Minister next week so that we can talk and see how, as best as we can, accommodate all these issues and cement the Memorandum of Action”.

On why the leadership of the House had to visit the NARD secretariat for the meeting, the Speaker said it was to appreciate the respect and understanding the association has shown for the Speaker and the House to suspend the strike to allow for the resolution of the issues.

He said: “The decision to visit you is a clear message that we are with you because the role of doctors cannot be understated and to thank you for calling off the strike because of what we have done.

“We are here to encourage and thank you for calling off the strike and give you assurances that the House will be there with you, talking with the executive on what needs to be done”.

Earlier, the president of the association, Okhuaihesuyi, who expressed appreciation for the visit, observed that this is the first time a member of the Federal Government will be coming to the secretariat.

He commended the Speaker and the leadership of the House, recalling several past interventions of the Speaker and the house in other industrial actions of the association.

The president said the strike was called off on the heels of the intervention of the Speaker and the House.

While thanking the Speaker for all his previous interventions, he noted that the association has entered into a Memorandum of Action with the Executive and work has commenced on some of the issues.

The Speaker was accompanied by the House Leader, Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, Minority Leader Rep Ndudi Elumelu, Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, Rep. Tanko Sununu, his deputy, Rep Babatunde Adejare and Rep. Sani Farouk.

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