Buhari To Doctors : Striking At This Critical Time Isn’t A Good Decision
Urges them to return to their duty posts Says he has a good track record of paying our debts to workers, pensioners
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday pleaded with striking medical doctors across the country to call off their industrial action as Nigerians are currently in critical need of their services.
President Buhari, who made the call when he received members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, also asked those contemplating strike to choose amicable settlement of all grievances instead. Buhari, according to his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that a doctors striking at a time when the country is struggling to find its way out of a pandemic is not a good decision, the nature of grievances notwithstanding.
He, however, urged the striking unions to opt for settlement of issues by negotiation, no matter how long it takes, assuring that all outstanding benefits owed medical doctors will be cleared, after verifications, even as he reminded them that his administration has a track record of paying its debt to workers and pensioners.
“The lives of citizens that could be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences,” the president was quoted as saying.
He added: “Protecting our citizens is not to be left to government alone, but taken as a collective responsibility, in which especially medical professionals play a critical role. Let me speak directly to the striking doctors. Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.
“This administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers, pensioners and contractors and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations, once due verification is done. Debts genuinely owed Health workers will be settled.
“I learnt that some of the 12 points demand in the ongoing strike were already addressed, though the Review of a new Hazard Allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors.’’
President Buhari said the outstanding issue of an Establishment circular issued by the Head of Service, removing House Officers, NYSC Doctors from scheme of service had an addendum circular from National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they will continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure.
He said: “We are also supporting initiatives to expand health insurance coverage and bring more resources to health financing.
“We have many more challenges ahead and much more to do, for our large population.
“In this respect, it is important to remind you that, as senior medical personnel and representatives of one of the most respected professional groups in the world, your responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Nigerians are clear.
“It does not end only with the welfare of your members, but continues with a sense of responsibility for the entire country and its sociopolitical health and national stability,’’ he added.
President Buhari noted that Nigeria’s source of revenue over many years was dwindling, with a rising population.
“The global economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic, and despite recent pleasing news of more than five per cent economic growth of Nigeria in the last quarter, we are still having fiscal challenges to deal with, like most other countries.
“The source of revenue that Nigeria has depended on for so long experienced global decline, our population is rising fast and the tension arising from both, is fuelling agitation among our youth. Organizations like the NMA could play a very useful moderating role in society.”