The National Association of Resident Doctors has revealed that it is being threatened by some government agencies to call off its ongoing strike.
This disclosure was made four days into the nationwide strike following the failure of the Federal Government to honour their agreements which includes payment of salary arrears and indemnity for their colleagues who died in the line of COVID-19 duty.
The National President, NARD, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, told Journalists on Thursday that even though they had the duty to save lives, they are first human beings who had needs and should not be denied their entitlements.
He stated that it’s 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.
The leadership of the association had met with the 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, April 1.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had said on Friday that government would not hesitate to invoke the ‘No work no pay’ provision in the labour laws if they failed to call off the strike.
But in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Okhuaihesuyi said the government had not been fair, noting that since the association issued its ultimatum on January 25 and having written series of letters to the relevant ministries and agencies, nothing was done.
The development has however paralysed activities in many teaching hospitals across the country, inflicting serious hardship on Nigerians who need medical care in such institutions.
Asked if Nigerians had helped in putting pressure on the government to do what was necessary to end the stalemate and address the inadequacies in the health sector, 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 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?”
Efforts to get the NARD President to expatiate on the threats were not successful as his line could no longer be reached till press time on Saturday.
Okhuaihesuyi also said in the interview that government was unfair in the way it was treating them. He added, “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 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.”
He also expressed dissatisfaction that health workers were still being paid N5,000 as hazard allowance. He said, “All health workers earn N5,000 as hazard allowance while the hardship allowance of lawmakers is N1.2m. Nigeria is a peculiar country and it is become frustrating.
“That is why you cannot blame the people that are leaving (Nigeria). Doctors are first of all human beings and they need to survive before they can treat people. So, when they have not been paid for four months, how do they treat others? Therefore, this is a fight for survival.”
Okhuaihesuyi said further that 17 resident doctors had lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic and that it was high time the government implemented the terms of their agreements rather than inviting them to sign a memorandum of understanding.
He added, “The problems we are having now are the same with what we have had over five years ago, so it has become a recurring issue because of government’s failure to honour its own agreement. They tend to rush to sign agreements but they don’t honour them. That’s where we are.
“We have members who have not been paid for four months and some for 20 months. These are members who are in the first level after graduation and have worked for four months but they have not been paid any salary.
“So, is it the MoU government brings up from time to time that would substitute for their salary? There are Residents (resident doctors) that have been in the system and were paid through GIFMIS platform but when government stopped GIFMIS and moved to IPPIS, they have not been paid for months. These are some of the issues. So MoU is not the answer.”
Doctors made some demands in ignorance – Ngige
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said on Saturday that government had substantially met the demands of the doctors. He faulted the rejection of the Memorandum of Action signed on Wednesday by the leadership of the association with the Federal Government.
The minister, who spoke to journalists on Saturday, explained that some of the demands by NARD were made in error as some of the issues were already sorted out and implemented 100 per cent. He noted that the outstanding issues that came up at the last conciliation had timelines as they were work in progress.
The minister said, “NARD made some of the demands in ignorance. They didn’t have the full picture; maybe they wished for a strike or their president pushed them into the strike so that his name would go into the annals of NARD as one of the tough presidents that has taken them on strike. That is wrong.
“He (the association’s president) didn’t participate in most of the discussions last Wednesday because he fell ill not long after the meeting started and had to excuse himself. He handed over to his deputy, the Secretary General and other officers of the association, who fully participated. We spent seven hours and by the time we put our signatures to the papers, it was eight hours.
“Disowning the MoA duly negotiated is unknown to labour. The two parties to the negotiation signed the MoA. Four officers from government and three from NARD signed the document and their president who was not at the meeting but fully represented by deputies went to NARD’s NEC and disowned the paper because they were signed by his deputies and secretary general.
“There is what is called transmission of power. He, as the president, fell sick and his deputies continued with the meeting. That is allowed.”
According to him, a memorandum was signed that NARD would go and educate its members on what had been agreed on and that they would reconvene after four weeks to create time to implement the issues.
He however expressed disappointment that NARD made a detour and mobilised its members into action.
Ngige dismissed as untrue allegations that doctors in public health institutions across the country were not insured.
He said, “The Federal Government in March 2020 spent N13.3bn on group life insurance for all workers comprising all federal civil servants and public servants in some parastatals that can’t afford the insurance for their staff members.
“The N13.3bn was paid to 13 insurance companies and brokerage firms to administer. This is not the first time that NARD and teaching hospitals have been told to send in names and make claims for members who have lost their lives.
“It is an insurance that ran for one year till March and even at that, new payment is now being processed so that it becomes a continuous thing.”
He said, “If you have a cover and didn’t make a claim, nobody will pay you. Make your claim through the Ministry of Health and from there to the Office of the Head of Service. It gets to the insurance companies and payment will be made.”
He explained that the Federal Government fast-tracked the insurance cover in anticipation of casualties from COVID-19.
He added, “With COVID-19, we envisaged that health workers would need this more than any other person, so the Federal Government rushed the bill. There is a group life insurance in situ now for every health worker. Therefore, it is dishonest for anyone to make a claim to the contrary.
“We also have additional insurance from the Presidential Task Force (on COVID-19) especially for those who work inside the COVID-19 isolation centres for them to get something additional. Moreover, there is insurance for compensation for injuries, diseases and even death in the course of work, called Employee Compensation.
“There is an Act, the Employee Compensation Act operated by the Nigeria Social Insurance Fund. Once you are insured under it, you make your claim.”
Oyetola To Aregbesola: We’re Proud Of You, You Performed Well As Gov, You’re Doing Well As Minister; Those Calling For Nigeria Break-up Ignorant, Says Aregbe
The Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola has stated that the state is proud of its former Governor and Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Oyetola spoke in Ilesa on Saturday, 5 June, 2021 at an event marking the 64th birthday celebration of the Minister.
He noted that the former Governor of the state performed very well while ruling the state and still performing as the Minister Of Interior.
Oyetola who was represented at the event by the state Commissioner for Political Affairs and Inter-governmental Relations, Mr Taiwo Akeju, said: “You performed very well in the State of Osun and you are performing well as the Minister of Interior. We are very proud of you.”
The events celebrating the 64th birthday of the Minister included the presentation of a book titled “The Rauf I Know “, written by a journalist, Mr Dayo Olanipekun. Mr Olanipekun covered him as state house correspondent for the Broadcasting Corporation of Osun State (OSBC) in his two terms as governor.
Speaking later, Ogbeni Aregbesola warned that it would take 50 years for Nigeria to recover from another civil war.
He therfore warned Nigerians to desist from any act capable of threatening Nigeria’s unity, describing those calling for the separation of the country as ignorant.
Ogbeni Aregbesola said: “Those calling for Nigeria’s break-up are ignorant. Every Nigerian should work for Nigeria’s unity and development.
“It will take Nigeria 50 years to recover from civil war. Whoever likes women and children should not support, but rather condemn any call of separation and conduct capable of threatening Nigeria’s unity.
“Nigeria is a country created by God for us and for the black race.
“I am not saying everything that is happening in Nigeria is good. We should treat the problems and challenges facing Nigerians, not calling for her break-up. Decapitation is not the antidote for headache”.
Aregbesola also declared support for a new caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC), The Osun Progressives (TOP), saying that he is in support of any move to consolidate progressives legacies in the State of Osun, strengthen the party from the polling units, wards and local government levels and strengthen internal democracy in the party, which are clearly stated in the objectives and mission of TOP.
In his address, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, said that Aregbesola’s legacy in the development of the State will forever linger in the sands of time.
The Ooni of Ife who spoke via Zoom noted that the State of Osun and its people cannot forget Aregbesola as his achievements are beyond what anyone can rubbish.
“We will forever remember him. Your work will never cease to reflect in the sands of time. It is during his tenure that landmark achievements occurred in Osun which we cannot forget.
“We can never forget you. Your achievements are beyond what anyone can rubbish. We are proud of you and what you represent.”
The Registrar of the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof Ishaq Oloyede, who delivered a lecture titled “Power is responsibility” at the event, urged Nigerian political leaders to be responsible with power.
Oloyede who was represented by Dr Wahab Oyedokun, tasked politicians to operate with ideology that address people’s yearnings.
Speaking at the event, Chief Mrs Tokunbo-Awolowo Dosumu, daughter of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, said Aregbesola is among the few Nigerian politicians that identify with and promote Awolowo’s legacy.
According to Dosumu, Aregbesola has always been committed to all the activities of Awolowo Foundation, describing him as an exemplary leader.
Politicians, traditional rulers, trade union groups and people from all walks of life from the state and across the country graced the occasion, while others spoke via zoom.
UPDATED: NECO Registrar died of heart failure, not assassinated – says Official
The Registrar of National Examinations Council (NECO), Prof. Godswill Obioma has been confirmed dead.
The late NECO Registrar reportedly died on Monday night in his sleep in his Minna residence.
The Director, Human resources of the examination body, Abdul Mustapha confirmed the death of the NECO boss, he dismissed viral media reports that Prof. Godswill Obioma was assassinated, says he died in his sleep as a result of heart failure.
Mr. Mustapha disclosed communication from Obioma’s second son, Prince Godswill Obioma, informing him of the death of his father thus:
“Mustapha K. Abdul (Director Human Resource Management, NECO),
“Dear Sir, this is to formally inform you that my father, Prof. Godswill Obioma, the Registrar/Chief Executive of NECO passed to eternal glory yesterday 31/5/2021 after a brief illness.
“We request that you kindly notify the Board, Management and the entire staff of the Council of this development.
“We shall keep you duly informed.
“Prince Godswill Obioma the 2nd, for the family.”
The release of the conversation between the deceased son and Mustapha contradicted some reports in some online and social media platforms alleging that the NECO boss was assassinated in his Minna residence by some unknown gunmen.
INSECURITY: Arewa Consultative Forum directs Northerners to boycott Southeast
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has directed Northerners to boycott traveling to Southeast as a result of the level of insecurity in the region.
The warning under the guise of a statement was issued by the National Chairman of ACF, Audu Ogbe, on Monday, May 31. He expressed concern over increasing attacks and killings of northern residents in the southeast or those visiting the zone. He said the travel advisory was issued while taking into cognizance the killings of northern leaders in 1966, which he said triggered the events that led to the civil war.
“ACF issues a very strong advisory to all northerners who may wish to travel to the southeast. Northerners should weigh the importance and necessity of such travels. Unless such trips are absolutely necessary and of compelling nature, like matters of life and death, they should not be made.”the statement in part read
The travel advisory comes barely 24 hours after former presidential aide, Ahmed Gulak, was murdered by IPOB members in Imo state.
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