Kindly accept warm greetings from the Secretariat of NARD.
We are all aware of the events that took place during and after the last Emergency delegate meeting of the NMA on 6th August 2014 at Vines Hotel, Durumi,Abuja.
As such in the course of our internal squabbles, the Government, with the full support of some doctors (who view themselves as elders in the Profession), decided to suspend residency training programme in Nigeria!!!
How did we get to this point, right? Well, the so-called elders felt that Resident Doctors were the ones that didn’t allow NMA to suspend the strike and therefore must be dealt with! The move to do this started on the 27th July after the botched NMA EDM of 26th July 2014. These ” elders” had an overnight meeting at the private residence of the Minister of Health where they simply blamed NARD for the failure of NMA to suspend the strike. The conclusion therefrom was taken to the Government.
Eighteen days after this meeting of ‘elders” and eight days after the last EDM of 6th August 2014, the FG unilaterally decided to suspend the Residency Training Programme in all Teaching Hospitals and Sack all Resident Doctors.
Subsequently, we discussed as the NOC of NARD on Thursday 14th August and decided that the best bet is to go through the structures of the NMA to resolve this issue as the root cause of it lies within the NMA. We took this approach because of the possibility of another entrapment should we go separately. We collectively (with the NMA) decided that the Suspension and Sack must be reversed.
A Press conference took place on Friday 15th August 2014 and a discussion with the Lawyers took place. A motion for an exparte injunction was sought to prevent FG, FMoH and CMDs/MDs from executing the Circular on suspension of RTP.
We left Abuja on Friday 15th August 2014 only to be called from the NMA secretariat on Saturday 16th August that the Senate President has invited a delegation of NMA/NARD for a mediation talk at his residence on Sunday 17th August. This channel was opened up through the President of MWAN, Dr (Mrs) Valerie Obot.
Dr White Man: delegation of NMA/NARD for a mediation talk at his residence on Sunday 17th August. This channel was opened up through the President of MWAN, Dr (Mrs) Valerie Obot.
We met the Senate President at about 8:30 pm in his Residence and had a discussion that centred on: Suspension of Residency Training, Relativity, Skipping, Hazard Allowance, Circular on the entry steps for HOs, Circular on Consultancy Status and items for Continuation of Negotiation including- Funding of Residency Training, Surgeon-General ( Chief Medical Adviser of the Federation), Reversal of CBN Circular amongst many.
Regarding the suspension of Residency Training, he viewed the action by FG as uncalled for and counter-productive. He On Relativity, we informed him that the EDM requested for implementation with or without payment of the arrears. On Skipping we told him of the genesis and background agreements and disagreements while we also informed of the justification of the review for Hazard Allowance using Ebola as a reference. For the outstanding issues with circulars, he castigated NMA for not doing the needful in terms of PR in the MDAs to get workers to do its bidding. On Surgeon-General, he advised that we may have to change terminology to beat the opposition. On Funding of Residency Training, he opined that it requires a lot of lobby to secure it as it is not salary-related and therefore not an issue for strike. He promised to discuss with the President on Monday 18th August and call us back for further discussion on 19th August 2014.
Dr White Man: The review discussion took place on Tuesday 19th August 2014 at the Residence of the Senate President. He reported back that the President and Commander-in-Chief was visibly angry when they met and that told him that he felt slighted by the NMA. His grouse was that he met the NMA twice and appealed for a suspension of the strike but both times he was disappointed. He further stated that he was informed severally that the NMA was desirous of suspending the strike but it was NARD that was holding NMA hostage.He further informed us that the President has been told that despite Obembe’s determination to end the strike to the extent of resigning, NARD members instigated him to come back and continue provided he is gonna lead the strike. It was further said that opposition political parties, APC to be specific was using both the NARD and NMA Presidents to smear the ruling PDP party. Thus, the President said that though the sack is temporary, he will not withdraw the directive until Drs suspend their strike because there is no way one can guarantee Nigerian Doctors. He concluded on this issue by telling the Senate President that if the Doctors suspend the strike, the Circular will be withdrawn.
On Relativity, the President was said to have told Sen David Mark that there is no extra pool of funds to draw from and pay any arrears. Thus, only the two months already released to hospitals is to be paid while the 10-months’ arrears shall be paid once the 2015 budget is passed. On Skipping, he said that the Minister of Health stated that he had been pleading with us to allow for the conclusion of the appeal by the FMoH. We then informed the Senate President that, the FG had signed agreements containing Skipping twice and the majority of Doctors have received letters of skipping while a few hospitals have paid. He later confirmed, and informed us that the new Head of Civil Service just took over on Monday and needs time for debriefing before he collaborates with the National Salaries and Wages Commission and sorts out the issue including the financial implication.
[21/08 6:39 AM] Dr White Man: and Wages Commission and sorts out the issue including the financial implication.
On Hazard Allowance, he agreed that an improvement is desirable but let us agree on a percentage. This was then pegged at 20% Basic Salary per month for Consultants and above while 30% of Basic Salary per month for Senior Registrars and below. However, this is to be completed as a component of the issues under continuation of Negotiation. (Collective Bargaining Agreement). For the circulars on HOs entry steps and Consultancy status, they will be corrected to reflect the viewpoints of NMA.
On Funding of Residency Training, he stated that we need to spare time for advocacy to people like him to get it properly done until it becomes a norm in the budget. On the other elements to be discussed under continuation of Negotiation, he stated that FMoH has told him that their team is ready and that as soon as the impasse is over, the discussions will start so as to finish before the 2015 budget is passed. He excused himself to see guests while we itemize the issues with his SSA into categories of those requiring payment, correction of Circulars a=or reassurance.
The Senate President concluded by pleading for the suspension of the strike based on the need NMA still has for political goodwill of Mr President as well as the Nigerian Masses. We departed from his residence around midnight.
Dr White Man: So, we discussed extensively and having waited for a good response from MDCAN that is obviously not forthcoming; an exparte injunction from NICN court Abuja, that has refused to materialize because the judge has consistently and conveniently refused to be available for hearing, we are of the opinion that holding onto the last vestiges of goodwill from the Senate President may just be the way out. However, this requires that we suspend the strike, and immediately the FG will reinstate all Resident Doctors.
For NARD, we ask ourselves certain pertinent questions: What is the underlying cause of this problem and what are the effects-seen and unseen? Certainly, the internal disaffection from the fall outs of the failed EDM(s) of NMA is an integral reason. Furthermore, this made it easy for the Judases within us to get emboldened to create the background for the latest assault on Medicine in Nigeria. The immediate backbone would have been MDCAN but alas it is comatose.
This is the journey over the past few days and weeks.
Kindly ruminate and understand why our concurrence for the suspension of the strike remains a plausible way out of this logjam!!!
Dr Jibril Abdullahi