The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has decided to defer the commencement of their nationwide protest, initially scheduled to launch on Wednesday, August 9. In a significant turn of events, representatives from the federal government engaged in talks with the doctors on Tuesday to address the ongoing strike and the impending demonstration.
Emeka Orji, the President of NARD, conveyed that the fate of the protest hinged upon the outcome of the meeting’s resolutions. He disclosed, “The protest has been suspended. We review again in 72 hours.” This decision emerged following discussions with Godswill Akpabio, President of the Senate, and other prominent members of the upper legislative chamber.
Orji emphasized the constructive nature of the discussions with the Senate leadership, expressing optimism about the potential for positive outcomes. Speaking to reporters, he stated, “We had a very fruitful meeting with the Senate led by the President of the Senate, and from our discussions with them, we are very hopeful that when we table our discussions today before the NEC, something positive would come out.”
He further shared, “From our interaction with the President of the Senate and the practical demonstration he did before us today, we are very confident that there would be light at the end of the tunnel in the next 24 hours.”
Akpabio, in response, assured the doctors that the administration led by President Bola Tinubu would address their concerns promptly. He expressed gratitude on behalf of the Senate, acknowledging the doctors’ decision to cancel the planned protest and suspend the strike in consideration of the public’s well-being.
Akpabio affirmed, “Your demands are well noted, and let me assure you that as soon as a minister in charge of health is appointed, the Senate will work with him or her to expeditiously address all your grievances. The President Bola Tinubu-led administration is doctors friendly, and that explains the large number of medical practitioners he has appointed into his cabinet.”
The resident doctors had commenced an indefinite strike on July 26, citing the government’s failure to meet their demands. Among the key demands are the disbursement of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) for 2023, immediate release of the one-for-one replacement circular, and an upward revision of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
Additionally, the association seeks resolution on pending consequential adjustment arrears, hazard allowance, and skipping allowance. The decision to postpone the planned demonstration reflects the doctors’ commitment to finding a constructive resolution while ensuring the welfare of the populace remains a priority.
As the nation watches developments unfold, the deferment of the protest marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing dialogue between NARD and government representatives, highlighting the potential for collaboration and positive change in the healthcare sector.