Although the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, on behalf of the FG pledged a few days ago to put an end to the doctors’ strike, subsequent meetings and negotiations still appear to be deadlocked.
Recall that the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) at its July 30 National Executive Council meeting declared the industrial action and have remained unyielding in their demands as relayed in an August 26th Communique accusing the federal government of “perpetual insincerity” and defying the order of the National Industrial Court which ordered the Resident Doctors to cease hostilities with their employers and resume work while the government worked on their demands.
33 days after the commencement of the strike however, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo reached out to the doctors in a bid to find a common ground, he held a Zoom meeting with officials of the association and requested they provided him with details of their demands.
“He reached out to us and told us he needed all the details of our grievances and that he would not want us to end the strike and commence another later in the future,” a source privy to the meeting disclosed.
The Vice President of NARD confirmed the meeting in a separate interview when he mentioned “Vice President Osinbajo reached out to us. He met with the (NARD) President yesterday (Friday). It was actually a zoom meeting he had with our president though some of us were there. He (Osinbajo) initiated the meeting because he wanted to get the information about what was going on. He said he needed details of everything that happened.”
“He asked calmly and we believe that he would do something and we also believe that very soon, he would call us officially.”
“We gave him the information. The information we gave him was first-hand and authentic. We are sure other government officials won’t give him such details at all about the whole issue.”
In an interview conducted by Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily crew, NARD President Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi speaking on the ongoing crisis, expressed total trust in the Vice President while alleging deliberate misinformation on the part of the Minister of Labour, he stated, “The Vice President is our only hope, but unfortunately we met with him on Friday, on Saturday we are getting a wrong information from the Minister of Labour”
He added, “We’ll by all means find a way to call off the strike. It’s a trust thing, it’s not personal. If we have someone that has integrity and we can trust, not the ones we have discussed with earlier.”
When asked whether he believed the Vice President had integrity, he replied “The Vice President has integrity…he has trust, he’s somebody I believe can make things work”.
It should be noted that members of the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association have also issued a 15 day ultimatum to embark on an industrial action should the government fail to meet their demands.