The planned resumption of the suspended strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors(NARD) may be called off as the doctors may start receiving payment of their arrears from Thursday, May 7.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, gave this assurance on Tuesday at an exhaustive meeting between the resident doctors, leadership of the House of Representatives, Officials of the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Finance.
The doctors, at the resumption of the meeting with Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, which began last week, said they would suspend the planned resumption of the strike as soon as they get paid for their salary arrears ranging from one to five months.
The Minister had assured money has been made available by the government for the payment, adding as soon as a verified list of beneficiaries was received, payment will be effected.
However, when the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, who was one of the stakeholders at the meeting, confirmed his office was in receipt of the list, the Minister gave her word that payment would be made by May 7.
The resident doctors had on April 1 embarked on an indefinite strike over non-payment of house officers, abolishment of bench fees, non-payment of national minimum wage, salary shortfall for 2014, 2015 and 2016, residency training allowance, and payment of resident doctors on GIFMIS platform.
All the issues raised by the doctors were resolved, except salary shortfall for 2014, 2015, and 2016.
The issue involves all health workers with a cost implication of about N23 billion, which the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, described as “huge and complicated.”
At the meeting, there were claims that a case on the matter was before a court, for which the Speaker asked the Minister of Health, Dr Osahie Ehanire, to produce the relevant papers as the resident doctors said their checks revealed there was no pending court case anywhere on the matter.
Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi said in a statement It was agreed jointly by the doctors, the House led by the Speaker and officials of the Ministry of Health that the matter should be set aside until court papers were provided.
Others present at the meeting, which lasted up to late Tuesday evening, were Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu; Minority Whip, Gideon Gwani; Chairman House Committee on Healthcare Services, Tanko Sununu, among others.