THE conciliation meeting between the Federal Government Negotiation Team and the striking National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, yielded positive result as the union decided to suspend the nationwide indefinite strike if alert for their salary entered on or before Friday.
The meeting which started about 2:30pm on Wednesday lasted about twelve hours as the communique was ready about 3am Thursday. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige who was the convener of the meeting made frantic efforts to ensure that the Resident Doctors suspended the strike, when doctors insisted that until they received alerts of the unpaid salaries, they would not suspend the strike. Intermittently the leaders of Resident Doctors stormed out of the venue of the meeting to consult with the members on the position of the government.
Some of the aggrieved members of NARD who preferred to loiter outside instead of remaining inside the conference room where the meeting was taking place threatened to impeach the leadership if they concede to signing any agreement with the Federal Government’s Negotiation team without receiving alerts. Following prolonged negotiation which remained inconclusive as at 1am, the parties unanimously resolved that the nationwide industrial action should be suspended as soon as the payment alert are received from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) today as promised by the Federal Government’s team. Some of the aggrieved resident doctors who were mostly in their mid-40s frowned at the attempts by Chris Ngige-led Negotiation Team to coarse them to suspend the strike without any tenable evidence of payment as claimed by the Minister during the opening remarks.
One of the Resident Doctors who shunned all entreaties from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation lamented that he trekked about 1000 kilometers to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari during the 2015 elections. He said, “Until we receive alerts we are not going to call off the strike. I don’t have any trust in the government. I trekked over 1000 kilometers during the elections despite the Boko Haram attack in Maiduguri to vote for President Buhari. “Buhari went to London for treatment and he paid the doctors there but he does not want to pay us. We are not going to call off the strike until we get alerts. In fact, it is the government that is prolonging the strike. He said that the medical personnel and facilities of various oversea hospitals where most of the public office holders receive treatment were functional and effectively managed by their respective governments. Another source privy to the negotiation, hinted that there was no payment made by the apex bank on the salary arrears as contained in the six-point demand tabled by the Resident Doctors.
However, some members of the Federal Government’s negotiation team from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation who left the meeting were summoned back by the Minister of Labour and Employment. Ngige who chaired the meeting, had during the engagement pleaded with the Resident Doctors to make sacrifice in the interest of the country. The Resident Doctors had as the pressure from Ngige for them to call off the strike was too much said they should be given till Saturday so that the alerts would have come but the Minister rejected the proposal saying that Saturday was far.
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