The House of Representatives joint Committee on Healthcare Services and Health Institutions after a meeting with critical stakeholders on Tuesday set up a sub-committee to resolve Resident Doctors’ N26.5bn arrears, amongst other issues.
The joint committee, comprising of Ministry of Health, Finance and Committee of Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors (CCMDs/MDs) was given one week to resolve all issues and report to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila
Earlier yesterday the committee had met with the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and other stakeholders in the sector with the intent of stopping the proposed strike by the association and went immediately into a closed session.
Present at the meeting were the Ministry of Health, The Budget Office,. Ministry of Finance, the Committee of Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors (CCMDs/MDs) and others.
Hon. Yusuf Tanko Sununu, chairman of the committee while speaking said the meeting was a continuation of that called by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila on the 29th July.
He said: “There were three issues in contention at that meeting: One is the issue of shortfall of salary that amounted to N3.5 billion, which is to be paid to Doctors practising in the country.
” I think that has been successfully resolved as both Budget Office and Ministry of Finance clearly told us that a provision was made to ensure that within this month, at least that will be paid.
“Secondly, we also have issue of skipping arrears totalling about N23 billion, which was strongly debated. Mr. Speaker is of the view, as at the conclusion of that meeting, that the claim is a genuine one. Because all evidence before the meeting as at that date shows that Federal Government, through the agency of Federal Ministry of Health has gone into agreement to pay this skipping arrears. These are all the available documents that was tendered to the Committee.
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” That the issue of skipping was in court could not be substantiated by the documents tendered before that meeting.
The lawmaker said another major issue was how to fund the medical residency of doctors, the bill of which President Muhammadu Buhari had signed into law last year.”
The Chairman of committee on Health Institutions, Hon. Pascal Obi said: ” based on the fruitful deliberation we’ve had here today, I’m convinced we will not be talking about strike again.”
He expressed confidence in the committee that had been set up, saying he is sure the panel will resolve all the issues between the Doctors and the Federal government.
Dr. Olusegun Olaopa, President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) while speaking with reporters on the outcome of the session said there will be no problem if the Government keeps its side of the bargain.
He said:”We are trying to let the government know that its not as if we’re unreasonable. We’re doing everything possible to show reasoning and continue to negotiate with the government.
” if the various organs of government can keep their own terms, there will no be problems. Currently, I must say it’s
an ongoing process, and we believe its going to lead to a long lasting solution to the problem, he added.
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