ABUJA – The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, on Monday called on the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to suspend its two-week-old strike.
Rep. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta) the chairman, House committee on Health, who delivered speaker message’s, made the call at the resumed meeting of the committee with stakeholders.
He said Tambuwal was discussing with President Goodluck Jonathan on how to end the lingering strike and urged the doctors to suspend the strike to save Nigerians who were in dire need of their services.
“Please suspend the strike, give the house the benefit of doubt,’’ he said.
The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said that N13 billion required to settle the 12 months arrears of allowance of the doctors was not captured in the 2014 budget.
Represented by Dr Bright Okogu, Director-General, Budget Office, Okonjo-Iweala said that government could paid only two out of the 12 months and would pay the balance in 2015.
“We will do our best if we can get up to two months, reflecting the balance in the 2015 is the best thing to do,’’ she said.
She said the first installment of the allowance would be paid in August, and expressed regrets that the amount paid on wages was too high and eating into capital budget.
He said that the wage bill had risen from N857 billion in 2009 to N1.8 trillion in 2013, adding that the demand for wage increase by the trade unions was sustainable.
On possibility of privitisating the health sector, she said that government presence was needed, adding that it was an issue he would not want to delve into.
“I am not an advocate of outright privitisation of the health sector,’’ she said. [eap_ad_2] The Minister of state for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, said the minister had amended the contentious circular in line with the demands of doctors.
Alhassan said since that had been resolved, doctors should suspend their strike in the interest of the country.
“I appeal to NMA to suspend the strike in the spirit of the Nigerian people,’’ Alhassan said.
The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Mr Emeka Wogu, also urged the NMA to suspend their strike.
“Consider the plight of Nigerians in the hospital who either discharged themselves or were discharged by the hospital management,’’ Wogu said.
The President of NMA, Dr Kayode Obembe, said that the association would only suspend the strike if government paid six out of the 12 months arrears of allowances owed them.
Represented by Dr Titus Ibekwe, NMA’s first Vice-President, Obembe said the association was expecting a circular from the Salaries and Wages commission on the issue of entry steps for house officers.
Obembe explained that it was agreed at a meeting with government for the setting up of a body for collective bargaining.
He said the issue of relativity and skipping had not been addressed, and that he would discuss with members of the association on the position of government. (NAN)[eap_ad_3]