- The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Saturday told Nigerian striking doctors that some of their demands were made in ignorance.
The Minister said that the federal government has substantially met the demands of the doctors as he condemned the rejection of the “Memorandum of Action” signed on Wednesday by the leadership of the Association with the Federal Government
The Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige who spoke with journalist last saturday explained that some demands by NARD were made ignorantly as some of the demands listed were already addressed and implemented 100per cent.
He said, “I can tell you boldly that work is in progress to address outstanding issues that were raised at the last conciliation meeting.
“We must let you know that NARD made some of the demands in ignorance. They didn’t have the full picture, maybe they only wished for a strike or their President pushed them into the strike so that his name would go into the annals of NARD as one of the tough Presidents that has taken them on strike. That is wrong.
“The Association’s President didn’t participate in most of the discussions held last wednesday because he fell ill not long after the meeting started and had to excuse himself. He handed over to his deputy, the Secretary General and other officers of the Association, who fully participated in the seven hours meeting which we all signed”.
Ngige said that, “Disowning the MoA duly negotiated is unknown to labour. The two parties to the negotiation signed the MoA. We have Four from government and three from NARD that signed the document and their President who was not at the meeting but fully represented by deputies went to NARD’s NEC and disowned the paper because they were signed by his deputies and Secretary General”.
He however expressed disappointment that NARD made a detour and mobilised its members into strike action. He also dismissed as untrue allegations that doctors in public health institutions across the country were not insured.
He said, “The Federal Government in March 2020 spent N13.3bn on group life insurance for all workers comprising all federal civil servants and public servants in some parastatals that can’t afford the insurance for their staff members.
“The N13.3bn was paid to 13 insurance companies and brokerage firms to administer and this is not the first time that NARD and teaching hospitals have been told to send in names and make claims for members who have lost their lives.
“If you have a cover and didn’t make a claim, nobody will pay you, make your claim through the Ministry of Health and from there to the Office of the Head of Service. It gets to the insurance companies and payment will be made.
He added, “With COVID-19, we envisaged that health workers would need this more than any other person, so the Federal Government rushed the said bill. There is a group life insurance for every health worker. Therefore, it is dishonest for anyone to make a claim to the contrary.
“We also have additional insurance from the Presidential Task Force (on COVID-19) especially for those who work inside the COVID-19 isolation centres for them to get something additional. Moreover, there is insurance for compensation for injuries, diseases and even death in the course of work, called Employee Compensation”.
The Minister called on the striking doctors to think progressively and jettisoned the idea of strike action