Strike continues, say resident doctors
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) yesterday dashed hopes of any resolution of its ongoing strike.
In a communique issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, NARD said its members would only return to work when the government settled its demands.
The doctors accused the government of failing to address their demands, including the payment of salaries and allowances to its members.
The communique by NARD President, Dr. Jubril Abdullahi, and Acting Secretary General, Dr. Udu Chijoke Udu, blamed the government for delaying the resolution of the crisis.
NARD said the strike could not be resolved because the attitude of the “government grossly fall short of the articulated demands”.
The association added: “All salaries and allowances of our members (House members and resident doctors) must be paid in full with immediate effect.
“The government must release and implement the stakeholders’ agreement on residency training programme of July 5 and 6, 2013.”
NARD demanded an “elaborate investigation of alleged victimisation” believed to have been perpetrated against its members “at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State”.
The doctors also insisted that failure on the part of government to address the aforementioned demands in clear terms, “the ongoing indefinite withdrawal of services is to be sustained until the above demands are met”.
NARD said it could no longer “trust the government” on any agreement until it resolved its face-off with the resident doctors.
It said: “This is not the first time we have been talking. We have met, signed agreements; yet, nothing has changed for over 40 years.”
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday said the Federal Government cannot blackmail its members to return to the classroom.
The Chairperson of its University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) branch, Prof. Antonia Okerengwo, addressed reporters yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on the protracted lecturers’ strike.
She vowed that the nationwide strike would only be suspended when the 2009 Federal Government/ASUU agreement was fully implemented.
She said the Federal Government voluntarily signed the agreement with ASUU leadership, adding that it would be improper to renege on it.
The union leader said ASUU wrote over 50 letters to Federal Government and lobbied some members of the National Assembly on the need to revamp the Education sector, all without a positive response.
Okerengwo explained that contrary to the government’s claim, ASUU members were not just fighting for themselves and their welfare but were agitating for Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions to be revitalised.
Okerengwo said: “We cannot continue to pretend or wish that these problems do not exist. Practical problems need practical solutions.
“The negotiations for the 2009 agreement took three years (2006-2009). As was agreed in 2012, evidenced by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the Federal Government promised to release N100 billion immediately in 2012 and N400 billion in 2013.
“The technical committee set up by National Executive Committee (NEC) to review the NEEDS Assessment Report also recommended that N800 billion would be required in the short-term of two years (N400 billion per year) for revitalisation. This has remained a mere promise.
“Only N100 billion for 2012, which is 20 per cent of what is due as at today, has so far been released. The fact is that the N100 billion is the amount due and outstanding since 2012. What about the N400 billion for 2013?
“We wrote letters to the Federal Government; we lobbied members of the National Assembly on the need to revitalise the Education sector. Now, the government is saying our action is politically-motivated. It is the Federal Government that is politicising the issue…”