Govt N4.8bn Pledge: FG Can’t Be Trusted, Says NARD, We Negotiated With NMA, Minister Insists

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige

The National Association of Resident Doctors, on Sunday, faulted the N4.8bn which the Federal Government promised to release for the residency training fund.

The first Vice-President of NARD, Adejo Arome, said in an interview with The PUNCH that the association could no longer trust the Federal Government.

Arome said this as the strike embarked upon by the association, which commenced on August 2, entered its 21st day today (Monday) as patients lament the effects of the industrial action.

The strike was called over the Federal Government’s failure to implement the agreements it signed with the doctors before they suspended an earlier industrial action.

Among others, NARD accused the government of not paying house officers and failing to register many doctors on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

The Federal Government had a week ago headed for the industrial court after failing to convince the resident doctors to call off the strike.

But on Friday, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), directed both sides to resume negotiations.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had on Saturday said the Federal Government had agreed to pay the N4.8bn residency training fund to the association, while also stating that there were plans to ensure that other demands of NARD, such as payment of arrears and payment of house officers, among others, were met.

Ngige had also said that the association would be required to sign a Memorandum of Action today (Monday).

But on Sunday, Arome said the association no longer trusted the government to implement the agreements.

He said NARD leaders could not return to their members with promises, adding that none of the agreements earlier signed with the government had yielded positive results.

Arome stated, “The government has not met anything. Saying they have set aside any amount of money is just their usual saying.

“We cannot go back to our members with promises. We won’t sign anything again. In fact, there is nothing to sign.

“We have signed all forms of memorandum. None of the ones we have signed has brought any positive results.

“We have signed Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Action, you name it.”

He added, “Let them go and do their work and let the people responsible for the issues be held responsible.

“We don’t trust them. We appeal to the President to take over the negotiations himself because right now, he is the only one we can trust.”

However, Ngige ruled out further negotiations with the resident doctors, saying he would not negotiate with NARD.

He said it was the Nigerian Medical Association that spoke with the leadership of the striking resident doctors.

Asked to react to the position of NARD that its members no longer trusted the Federal Government since previous agreements were not honoured, Ngige said he stopped talking to the association because it had gone to court.

The minister stated, “Call the NMA president and ask him. He was there throughout the two-day negotiations. He led them.

“I wasn’t negotiating with them (NARD). I was negotiating with the NMA. So, call the NMA for their reaction.

“I didn’t negotiate with them (NARD) because their matter has been transmitted to the court. The NARD is in court. So, it is the NMA that we held a meeting with and discussed with.

“I am not negotiating with them. The Ministry of Health is their employer, I am only a conciliator.

“Other unions and bodies like the NMA, the elders’ council, the Office of the Head of Service and the Budget Office, among others, were there and they agreed.”

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