Nigeria’s Health Ministry defends Jonathan’s sack of resident doctors

President Jonathan sacked all resident doctors in Nigeria on Thursday.

The Federal Government on Thursday defended President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to sack thousands of resident doctors in the nation’s hospitals.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported  how the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, L.N. Awute, sent a memo to federal hospitals ordering that “letters of termination of residency training” be given to all the resident doctors.

Mr. Awute said the directive was based on an order by President Goodluck Jonathan.

On Thursday evening, the health ministry released a public statement defending the president’s action.

According to a statement by the Deputy Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Health, Isiaka Yusuf, the directive was without prejudice to any emergency measure that may be necessary for the hospital management to immediately restore full medical services.

Mr. Yusuf said that the sack came after successive attempts by the Federal Government to reach a consensus with striking doctors under the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA.

He noted that despite successive intervention meetings, the NMA had gone ahead with its protracted strike action. He said the strike had brought pain to Nigerians in dire need of medical attention.

The doctors affected are to receive one month salary and allowances. They are also expected to return all hospital property in their possession with immediate effect.

“It should be stressed that the Federal Government has implemented more than 90 per cent of its responsibilities as signed by both parties. At the conclusion of each meeting, the NMA promised to call off the strike but would return another day to say that they could not.

“For the whole of July 2014, these doctors did not work yet government, owing to the emergency situation in our country, paid them the July salaries with allowances such as call duty allowance, teaching allowance, hazard allowance, etc, believing that this magnanimity of government would appeal to reason for NMA to call off the strike,” Mr. Yusuf said.

Describing the association’s strike as insensitive, Mr. Yusuf said it was pertinent to note that the issues under discussion were the current security challenges in Nigeria with the attendant mass casualties compounded by the Ebola disease outbreak.

Mr. Yusuf also said that the Federal Government wished to reassure Nigerians of sustainable optimal medical health care delivery in all hospitals.

However, the President, Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, Jubril Abdullahi told PREMIUM TIMES that the president’s decision to dismiss the doctors was illegal.

He said in the light of the ongoing strike, it was evident that the Nigerian government was not ready for dialogue.

“Whatever the government have done in their reaction to the NMA’s strike means they are not ready for dialogue because while we are engaging them, they have resorted to this,” Mr. Abdullahi told PREMIUM TIMES, adding that his association had about 16,000 members.


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