The Nigerian Medical Association and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors on Wednesday blamed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, for the prolonged strike by resident doctors.
The NMA’s General Secretary, Philips Ekpe; and the Vice President of NARD, Arome Adejo, made the position of their groups known in separate interviews with The PUNCH in Abuja.
The NARD had on August 2 begun a nationwide strike over the alleged failure of the Federal Government to pay doctors on residency training and integrate members of the association into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.
On Tuesday, Ngige, in an interview with State House correspondents, claimed that the Federal Government did not owe any doctors, but the illegally employed ones.
But Arome told our correspondent that Ngige should be sacked for not telling the truth about the state of things.
He said, “NARD as a body calls for the sacking of Ngige for he is the major factor aggravating things; he is also coming out to tell lies about doctors and constantly aggravating the already tensed situation.”
He added that contrary to Ngige’s claim, the demands of the striking doctors had not been met.
He said, “The President should called us alongside Ngige; let him defend himself and let us defend ourselves, no demand has been met.
“Let Ngige come out straight, no money has been paid and let the insurance money he said was paid be probed.
“You claimed to have paid insurance but the people who died have yet to be paid. The MRT fund that was paid, only a fraction was paid.
“On the illegal doctors; we were the ones who told them that there were some people like that. We told them last year, we wrote letters to him telling him that money has been paid wrongly to some individuals, we begged him to make sure that the money paid was returned to the right source.
“We compiled the names of those who were wrongly paid; he is misleading the President. All he came out to say are fallacies, he should stop inciting people against doctors; anytime he talks he speaks lies, we have evidences.”
Also, Ekpe told our correspondent that the minister had turned the ongoing crises into a media war.
He said, “By now, we thought things would have been resolved and the court case would have been withdrawn, but nothing has been done.
“In fact, NARD believes that Ngige has gone to the Presidency to disrupt goodwill.
“Why is he drawing issues? Every day he talks, going from one media house to another. He has turned this to a media war.
“In fact, the meeting we proposed initially for tomorrow (Thursday), which has now been postponed, was initially based on hazard allowances and not on the ongoing crises or the ultimatum but then it was postponed with no reason.”
“Now he said there are illegal doctors; first let me say this, who employed the illegal doctors? Did NARD employ the doctors themselves? If you have an illegal doctor then let the CMD be held responsible and why is Ngige bringing this up at this point in time?
“He should pay the doctors for the work they have done. He should not order doctors back to work or order them to stop the strike. NMA is not interested in media fight, we want problems solved.”