By Emeka Okafor
Striking members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) say nobody including the Federal Government can intimidate them into calling off the ongoing strike.
President of NARD, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, stated this on Sunday while reacting to Federal Government’s threat to implement “no work, no pay” policy during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
Okhuaihesuyi insisted that the Federal Government was yet to meet the resolutions reached in the memorandum of action signed by the NARD leadership and the government.
He said Nigerians should hold the Federal Government, the Ministers of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of Labour and Employement, Dr. Chris Ngige responsible for the ongoing industrial action by the striking doctors.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Ngige had threatened that the Federal Government would implement no-work no-pay policy if the striking doctors do not call off the strike before Monday.
Ngige also threatened to drag the striking doctors to the International Labour Organisation as well as the Nigerian Industrial Court and insisted that the doctors would not be pay during the period of strike for not informing the government.
But the NARD President speaking on Sunday insisted that enough striking notice was issued to the Federal Government with the Ministers of Labour and Health adequately informed before proceeding on the strike.
He, however, demanded the resignation of both ministers for failing to implement the resolutions of memorandum of action jointly signed by the government and the union.
“It’s quite shameful when political leaders in power and a doctor tries to now mix politics with medicine…you call on ILO (International Labour Orgnaisation) when you have not done what you are supposed to do. Is he (Ngige) not aware that we gave a notice of 116 days? Was he not part of the people who signed memorandum of action?
“Even then he came on air bragging that the timeline given us is six to eight weeks, and that all these things would have been achieved before then. It’s quite shameful when an elder… No work, No pay was done before by former Ministers Chukwu and Adewale. It’s the legacies we know them for.
“He wants to be added to the group of people punishing people when you have not done your part. You can’t beat your child with a cane and at the same time hold the child’s mouth not to talk”, Okhuaihesuyi stated.
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When asked if the resident doctors will call off the strike, Okhuaihesuyi said, “We are not calling off the strike. we are resolute and our members want to stay on this until we achieve something meaningful and change the narrative of the health sector. It’s total and indefinite. Strike continues.”
He also dismissed as untrue that the issues that led to the strike were largely issues with state, adding, “We cannot be bolly by him. He’s not the first to be minister neither will he be the last.”
“We have had recurrent strikes based on recurrent failures by the ministry of health. What we are asking for now is what we have been asking decade ago”, he added.