Strike: Stop threatening doctors with no-work-no-pay policy, former NMA boss tells Ngige

Angela Onwuzoo

Former President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Mike Ogirima has asked the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, to stop issuing threats to the striking doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors.

Ogirima noted that Nigige should rather invite the doctors for negotiation to resolve issues relating to the strike.

According to the Professor of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, the Federal Government cannot solve the problem of the doctors by resorting to threat.

The former NMA boss made the call during an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise.

He expressed concern over the government’s incessant failure to fulfill its part of an agreement reached with doctors as well as other labour unions.

Recall that Ngige had last week announced that the Federal Government will invoke the no-work-no-pay policy this week against the striking doctors.

But President of NARD, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi while reacting to the minister’s threat said the threat will not in any way compel members of the association to call off their ongoing strike now on its ninth day.

Okhuaihesuyi said members of NARD were not moved by the threat by Ngige, insisting they were determined to stand their ground against every form of intimidation.

NARD had on August 2 began a nationwide industrial action over unpaid salaries, benefits to families of members that lost their lives to COVID-19 pandemic and hazard allowances, improved conditions, and failure to domesticate Medical Residency Training Act 2017 in states, among others.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise over the impasse between NARD and the Federal Government, Prof. Ogirima pleaded with the striking doctors and their employer to go to the round table to negotiate and discuss how to resolve the ongoing issues of the resident doctors.

He said, “They should try and narrow the gap, patients are suffering. The Federal Government has gone into agreement with the resident doctors and with other professionals. But how far has the government implemented such an agreement? The trust of the resident doctors in the Federal Government is no longer there.

“The no-work-no-pay clause has been there; of course the resident doctors are prepared for that. It’s like you marched an animal to slaughter and you are expecting the animal at the abattoir to be scared of the knife again.

“I think the minister should mellow down on the choice of words he is using. The resident doctors are mature enough and you can’t win a war by threatening. The minister should be more diplomatic in handling this issue.”

The former NMA leader reminded the Federal Government that the threat would worsen the situation, stressing that already, many doctors are leaving the country, especially the senior ones.

Prof. Ogirima noted, “The government should check its policies and look inwards to solve the masses’ problem. If you say you are going to sack over 16,000 resident doctors; how are you going to get those doctors back even in the next year? 

“My stand is that the Federal Government should not issue threats to the striking doctors. Ngige is a public servant and should not be tired of negotiating with the doctors. He can’t be tired; that is his work.” he said.

The professor also advised the resident doctors to continue negotiating with the Federal Government. 

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