The National Executive Council (NEC) of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has rejected the 25-percent increment in the basic salary of doctors as well as the accoutrement allowance. Instead, they insisted on their earlier demand for the full restoration of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure to its right value as of the time of its approval in 2009. They said the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund has not been paid even after several promises made by the government.
Furthermore, they maintained that there was no going back on the ongoing nationwide total and indefinite strike until the government makes reasonable progress to address their demands as contained in their ultimatum issued to the federal government on July 5, 2023. The striking doctors described the 25-percent increase as “paltry” and said that the strike continues. They declared this position in a communique, which was jointly signed by the association’s president, Dr. Orji Emeka Innocent; the secretary-general, Dr. Chikezie Kelechi; and the publicity and social secretary, Dr. Uma Musa.
An overview of the doctors’ demand from the government.
Earlier, NARD had issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government, which ended on July 19, 2023. The government’s failure to acquiesce to their demands prompted this ongoing strike. Their demands include the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) as contained in the approved 2023 budget; payment of all arrears owed to the association’s members, including the hazard allowance and the skipping arrears of 2014-2016, and the arrears of consequential adjustment of minimum wage; and immediately releasing and implementing the guidelines on one-for-one replacement of clinical staff to cushion the effect of the massive staff shortage in various hospitals across the country.
In addition, the association wanted the immediate payment of all salary arrears, the implementation of the CONMESS salary structure and new hazard allowance, the domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act, payment of MRTF to members in state tertiary health institutions nationwide, immediate implementation of a minimum of 200-percent increment in the CONMESS salary structure, and an upward review of the associated allowances. Before these demands, the doctors had embarked on a five-day warning strike on May 17, 2023. The government had failed to heed the warning.
Demands remained relatively the same as in the previous communique.
At the end of its NEC meeting in Lagos, tagged “Las GIDI 2023″ and themed “Bullying in Medical Practice: A Matter of Perspective?” the communique demanded the immediate release of the circular on the one-for-one policy for the replacement of exited clinical workers for implementation. The union added that it cannot continue to watch their members lose their lives and break down under the weight of work overload occasioned by massive depletion of clinical staff in the hospitals on account of brain drain.
They observed that the 2023 MRTF has not been paid even after several promises made by the government. The body called on the government to pay all salaries and arrears including the salary arrears of 2014-2016, arrears of hazard allowance, arrears of consequential adjustment of the minimum wage, and promotion arrears to our deserving members without further delay. They also called on the governors of Abia, Kaduna, and Enugu states, as well as other states where NARD members’ welfare is neglected, to as a matter of urgency look into these challenges to resolve them amicably.
Failure to meet this demand may escalate industrial disharmony.
Nonetheless, the doctors’ body appealed to the federal and state governments to urgently resolve these demands to avoid the escalation of the ongoing industrial disharmony in the health sector across the country. Resident doctors are doctors who are undertaking training to become specialists or consultants in a medical field. They make up the majority of doctors in Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals. So, their threats to the government is significant in that it can grind medical activities in the public health sector to a halt.