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Buhari gives conditions for paying doctors’ benefits, faults strike

President Muhammadu Buhari says doctors’ outstanding benefits would not be paid until a verification exercise is carried out.

Buhari also scolded the doctors for prioritising their grievances more than the services they rendered to the Nigerian population, adding that the hazard allowance would be reviewed after the “deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors” is resolved.

The National Association of Resident Doctors had on August 1 commenced an indefinite strike action over “irregular payment of salaries”, among other issues.

Efforts of stakeholders, including the House of Representatives to mediate between the Nigerian government and the resident doctors did not yield results.

In a bid to force the doctors back to work, the Nigerian government instituted a suit against the association, asking the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of NARD from continuing with the action.

The Industrial Court ruled that the doctors should resume work but the doctors have insisted on continuing with the strike until their demands are met.

Meeting with officials of the Nigeria Medical Association at the State House in Friday, the President faulted the industrial action, saying “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.

“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-point demand in the ongoing strike was 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,” Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying in a statement.

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