*Sets up committees to resolve thorny issues
By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu
The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors on Wednesday evening met behind closed-doors with the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Health to discuss the impending strike by the resident dictors.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who briefed journalists after the marathon meeting said various committees had been set up to resolve all issues concerning the doctors.
He said, “We have a very robust discussion since morning between the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Health with the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors. We have present here the Federal Ministry of Health, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria as well as the representatives of the Minister of Finance led by the Director General, Budget Office.
“Of course there are a lot of demands that are contained in the communique issued by the NARD but we have looked at the key ones that concerns the members of the NARD. We have resolved them and all other ones that we didn’t go into details, we have agreed that further discussion will go on between the NARD and other relevant agencies of Government, particular the Ministries of Labour, Health and Finance.
“This is because some of them are medium to long term issues in terms of occurrence. The first one which is the major one is the issue of the House Officers’ payment. They said they have started payment and all hospitals have submitted and we have agreed to pay for all those omissions even above as it was in December but further verification will be done and anybody that is paid irregularly will be made to refund and sanctioned.
According to him, government also agreed to look into the cases of doctors who are residents in Federal hospitals and whose salaries have not been paid.
Oloriegbe said, ”If they are genuinely qualified based on the analysis from the budget office, they will be paid. For clarity, we discussed about the shortfall of 20 per cent in 2016, the Director of Budget has confirmed to us that the Ministry of Finance has set up a committee to look at it and that payment would be made to verifiable ones.
“For Covid – 19, there are two part of it, the Permanent Secretary will work it out. Having gone thus far, there is no need to say we want to proceed with the strike because we cannot put the blame of all what is happening on one person.”
The leadership of the NARD refused to grant press interview after the meeting.