President Bola Tinubu has failed to address the lingering demands of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors amidst its ongoing indefinite strike in his highly anticipated national broadcast.
The strike embarked upon by NARD has paralysed healthcare service across the Federal Government hospitals in the country.
However, President Tinubu focused more on the economy, fuel subsidy, and agricultural value chain during his naational broadcast on Monday night.
NARD declared an indefinite strike last Tuesday declared an indefinite and total industrial action, following the failure of the Federal Government to meet its demands.
NARD had on July 5, 2023, issued a two-week ultimatum to the government to meet its demands. The ultimatum expired on July 19, 2023.
The doctors are demanding the immediate release of the circular on one-for-one replacement of exited clinical staff in the various hospitals, immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund, the commencement of payment of all salary arrears owed to our members including the 2014, and 2015, and 2016 salary arrears, hazard allowance arrears as well as arrears of the consequential adjustment of the minimum wage.
Other demands are the immediate implementation of full CONMESS, domestication of MRTA/payment of MRTF, and review of the hazard allowance by all state governments, among others.
NARD also rejected the 25 per cent increase made to the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure by the Federal Government.
The FG had on July 25, 2023, approved the review of CONMESS for medical and dental doctors.
The review was contained in a circular titled, “Review of CONMESS,” signed by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta.
The review took effect on June 1, 2023.
CONMESS is the salary structure for medical and dental officers in the federal public service.
The commission said the decision to review CONMESS was taken following agreements reached with the Nigerian Medical Association, and stakeholders at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Commenting on the review of the salary, the President of NARD, Dr Emeka Orji said, the 25 per cent is not what the association is demanding from the government.
“The members of the association say they do not want that percentage increase, the increase is meant to be based on data, we have provided the data, which has to do with the inflation rate, between when the CONMESS was approved and now that there is an increase in fuel and foreign exchange.”
Meanwhile, President Tinubu in his broadcast, however, said, “For several years, I have consistently maintained the position that the fuel subsidy had to go. This once beneficial measure had outlived its usefulness. The subsidy cost us trillions of naira yearly. Such a vast sum of money would have been better spent on public transportation, healthcare, schools, housing, and even national security. Instead, it was being funneled into the deep pockets and lavish bank accounts of a select group of individuals.”
He added that the newly approved Infrastructure Support Fund for the states will enable states to intervene and invest in critical areas and bring relief to many of the pain points as well as revamp our decaying healthcare and educational infrastructure.
“The fund will also bring improvements to rural access roads to ease evacuation of farm produce to markets. With the fund, our states will become more competitive and on a stronger financial footing to deliver economic prosperity to Nigerians,” he said.