Resident doctors accuse government of sending threat messages over strike

BY ERIC DUMO

The National Association of Resident Doctors has raised the alarm that it was being threatened by some government agencies to call off its ongoing strike action.

This comes four days into the nationwide strike which according to the association is to protest against the failure of the government to honour their agreements including the payment of salary arrears and indemnity for their colleagues who died in the line of COVID-19 duty.

National President of NARD, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, told Sunday PUNCH that even though they had the duty to save lives, they were first human beings who had needs and should not be denied their entitlements.

He said this was a fight for survival, noting that they were tired of signing a memorandum of understanding with the government as the previous ones had yielded no result.

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The leadership of the association had met with a Federal Government delegation on Wednesday night during which the government appealed that the planned strike be shelved but the association commenced the strike on Thursday.

Okhuaihesuyi said, “Nigerians are actually scared. Basically, people cannot talk because they are scared of the unknown and there is fear of being harassed.

“Since this strike started, I have received calls from many government agencies to shelve the strike. Some are in the form of threats. It’s that bad. They think it is politics, forgetting that we cannot play politics with human lives. We are professionals and being a doctor means you have sworn an oath to take care of lives but when you are hungry or you become a patient, what is your fate?

“Resident doctors make up about 70 per cent of all the doctors in the workforce in Nigeria. That is independent of the challenge many doctors have in securing placement for their residency programme and that is also a big challenge.

“That was why we mentioned doctors on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System platform in our communiqué. That is the platform used in paying doctors that are not fully employed in the hospitals, and so there was leakage and fraud in the platform and it was closed. That means the number of doctors on the GIFMIS platform, which was over 3,000, have all stayed for four months without being paid.

“You can’t place an embargo on the employment of doctors while the ones employed are not being paid.”

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