The Federal Government has reacted to the strike notice issued by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), accusing the doctors’ body of failure to fulfill its part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed nine days ago to end the strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

NewsGazette reported yesterday that the NMA at the end of its national executive council in Benin, Edo State, at the weekend issued a 21-day strike notice to the federal government, with effect from today, Monday, August 30.

The doctors’ union and its affiliates, in a statement signed by the NMA secretary general, Prof Innocent Ujah and the secretary, Dr Phillips Ekpe, said it fully supported all its affiliates in their efforts to improve healthcare delivery in Nigeria and the Welfare of their members and therefore resolved to give the federal government a 21-day notice to fully resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed with the doctors.

“After due consideration NEC has put the federal government on a 21-day notice to fully resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed with affiliate members of the NMA, including the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Dental Specialist Association in Basic Medical Sciences (MeDSABAMS) and National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

“NEC affirms that no doctor shall be victimised for participating/not participating in the strike action by NARD.

“In the event that the federal government fails to implement the agreements after the expiration of the 21- day notice, NMA shall summon an emergency delegate meeting to review the progress made on the implementation of the agreements,” the NMA said.

Reacting to the threat, the minister of labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige said the 21-day ultimatum was in direct collision with the MoU the NMA signed on August 21, 2021.

In a statement by spokesman for the federal ministry of health, Mr. Charles Akpan, the minister said:“First is that that the  NMA communiqué in Benin, which issued a 21-day ultimatum is at variance with the timeline in Article II, Vii, Vii and X of the MoA.

“Importantly, Article II on payment of the outstanding hazard allowance from the 2020 Medical Residency Training Fund states that the fund will be paid after verification and reconciliation of figures from the BOF. Till now, both NARD/Postgraduate Medical College are yet to submit the validated application for the eligible doctors missed out in 2020 to enable this payment.

“Article Vii on withdrawal of the circular from the Office of the Head of Service removing House and NYSC Doctors from the scheme of service the NMA should submit her position immediately to the FMOH PS (FMOH) for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with a view to processing and issuance of clarification circular within two months. The NMA is yet to comply with this.

“Similarly, the technical committee set up in article Vii to tackle the backlog of arrears on GISMIS was given four weeks effective Monday, August 31, 2021 to round off its assignments.  Is this not on collision with the 21-day ultimatum?

“Also, Article X of the MoU also states that the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) should facilitate the withdrawal of suits by MEDSABAM against National Salaries Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) and the Accountant General of the Federation to ensure the amicable resolution of the issues. The NMA is yet to do this; yet, (it is) issuing a fresh ultimatum.

“It is, therefore, clear that the 21-day ultimatum will neither assist the NMA discharge the role assigned to it in the MoU nor facilitate the faithful implementation of the timeline which the federal government has given every attention.

“The truth is that NMA should play its role as the guardian of its affiliate associations instead of descending into the arena for needless fear of impeachment.”