Nigerian doctors blast Health Minister, accuse him of scuttling efforts to end strike

Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu

The Nigerian Medical Association [NMA] has lambasted the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, accusing him of prolonging the seven-week long strike that has left millions of patients stranded, amid an Ebola outbreak.

The union spoke Thursday after the government announced it was suspending talks with its leaders, who had earlier assured Nigerians that negotiations with the government were fruitful and the strike would soon be suspended.

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, described as untrue reports that the government had suspended further negotiations with it.

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES Thursday, the Secretary-General of the group, Adewunmi Alayaki, said the association was speaking with “government at a higher quarter”.

He accused the Minister of Health, Mr. Chukwu, of undermining efforts to resolve the crisis, and sponsoring reports that talks had been shelved.

“Chukwu is saying his own,” said Mr. Alayaki. “All he is saying is just a distraction to the whole thing. And the whole body will now see what he has been doing to scuttle the efforts of NMA to suspend this strike.”

Mr. Alayaki said the minister has been a “clog to progress” and the main factor the strike has lingers. “Even when we are at our meetings, the way and manner he speaks, he has been the clog to progress in our meetings. We are speaking at higher quarters, we know what they have told us, and we know the agreement we have had, only for him to go on air to say what he was saying. Everybody will now see who is the problem between the federal ministry of health and the NMA. It shows the direction,” he said.

“Let Chukwu be saying whatever he is saying. But we are speaking with people higher than him. And if he likes, let him go and tell the whole world they have suspended negotiations because he is so irrelevant that’s why he is saying what he is saying. You cannot want solutions to a problem and you are creating more problems. He shouldn’t have done what he did. And if he really wants us to go to this roforofo fight (muddy fight), we would give it to him. We are only giving him respect as minister of health but if he now decides to do what he is doing, I think it is very wrong of him. But we are still speaking with government at a higher quarter than him, I won’t lie to you” he said.

There were reports Wednesday that the Federal Government suspended further negotiation with the NMA in order to resolve the ongoing doctors strike until a presidential committee of experts on inter-professional relationships in the public health sector finishes its work.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation [SGF], Pius Anyim made the claim while receiving members of the committee in his office in Abuja, Wednesday.

Mr. Anyim said the final decision of the Federal Government will be hinged on the outcome of the committee’s report.

Another senior representative of the medical association also denied that the government had suspended talks.

The president, National Association of Resident Doctors, Jubril Abdullahi, said the striking doctors had not been officially informed about any suspension. He also accused the minister of not presenting the facts to the public. “Well, we have not been informed formally, because we don’t generally react to what they say in the newspapers. Unless the channels we are using, the channels we are discussing with inform us that there are no more talks then there would be no more progress. But that is not the case,” Mr. Abdullahi said.

“So whatever it is, we are watching. It is just unfortunate that the minister will be coming to public to say things that are untrue” he added.

But the minister has rejected the allegations. Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, his spokesperson, Dan Nwomeh, debunked the claims that the minister was frustrating attempts at ending the strike.

The minister said the federal government had fulfilled over 80 percent of its own part of the agreement with the association, and assured that the process of resolving outstanding issues was in progress.

Mr. Chukwu also blamed the leadership of the NMA in particular for the strike, and recalled that as the president of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), he once stepped aside and offered to resign his position rather than be pushed into an unnecessary strike by members over issues he was convinced could be resolved amicably through more dialogue.

The minster regretted that despite several protracted meetings with the NMA, including the intervention of senior members of the profession, the NMA had remained adamant.

He also disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan personally met twice with the NMA without him (the minister of health) in attendance, in a bid to get to resolve the issues.


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  • BlackieUmukoro

    So who is lying between NMA and the minister, methinks it is the NMA. They have been grandstanding until the FG whipped them into line and they are now begging for a soft landing. You will be forgiven but don’t be too heady next time

    • ike

      rubbish comment

      • ladi

        They doctors have been fired. If they want their jobs back, they should reapply.

        • femirobinson

          You must be johesu. Lol.

      • BlackieUmukoro

        Truth is bitter, and swallow it you must. Arrant nonsense
        Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

    • joe

      Ignoramus, shut ur mouth if u don’t ve anything to say. Its ur type that encouraged prolongatn of the strike. Must u talk?

      • BlackieUmukoro

        May you always embrace the truth, so that it does not take leave of you. Look at their 24 point demand and honestly tell me what you think of them Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

    • anonymous

      Fools abound in my nation,U re definately one of em,pray Ur relatives dont nid dis Doctors soon.

  • Somi

    who’s scuffling efforts to end the strike among the two? Now the FG has jiggled them a bit and struck them so hard. They should develop passion for their profession and consider that Nigerians need them to call of the strike and return back to work ASAP.

    • Ladi

      These striking doctors have been fired and if they want their jobs back, they should reapply.

      • bee

        Ladi pls stop showcasing ur ignorance. It’s resident doctors that were suspended and they are just part of NMA which is d body that is actually on strike. There are other doctors under NMA apart from residents.

      • Djokovic

        Ur comments suggest that you tried hard to become a medical doctor without success.It is never too late..JAMB forms will soon be out.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    President Jonathan health minister,Onyebuchi Chukwu is as incapable and clueless like president Ebele Jonathan himself.First Mr Chukwu failed outright to control the spread of ebola virus at the spark of the virus when Patrick Sawyer brought the virus into Lagos,Nigeria.The health minister Chukwu and President Jonathan would have summoned the wisdom to close Nigeria air-liks,roads links with Liberia,Sierra Leone and Guinea like what the president of Cameroon president Paul Biya did,Again the striking medical doctors now blame minister Chukwu for his inaction which resulted for the continuation of the strike.Jonathan and cabinet team are complete failure in all aspect of public governance.

    • Ladi

      Mr. Dokita Pat Kalawole Awosan, please be informed that the doctors have been fired. And, if they want their jobs back, they should reapply.

  • NwaMbaise

    This is very shameful in a country like NIgeria. “We are discussing at a higher quarter than the Minister”. THis is the problem with NIgeria. Always doing things in man know man jibiti way. If I were him and discover that they are discussing above him (over head), I will do everything to frustrate them.THis is an association the President signed a statement claiming that they had called off the strike, and the recalcitrant secretary recanted that communiqué. Smame

  • Maria

    A man who was sacked for stealing 200 million naira… now made minister of health by Jonathan… shame…

  • sampiece

    No one is enjoying the state of d nation. Sincerely dis is not d time to rain curses and abusive words. Like it or leave it, there are negative effects to dis strike and whether or not we are poor, both even d doctors on strike feels d impact of the strike. There is no one benefiting party to dis. Everyone suffers it so what best is for both the NMA and FG to come to a safe landing. No one is an island. ONE NIGERIA

  • Jones

    Please vote wisely. Vote “All Peoples Choice” on Saturday. Do away with division, insincerity in government, corruption, bad international reputation, austerity, oil theft, bribery, unemployment, and ethnic division. Use your PVC and follow the democracy of mission and vision for yourself, children and generations. Our hard earned democracy was not made through bribing traditional rulers or ethnic militias. Declare your freedom and independence.
    Time has come for Nigeria to reward the Public Disaster Party by voting them out of federal power. They have neglected the unemployed, the poor, the non militants, and the sick for 16 years. We have 1 day to neglect them on Saturday with our votes. Stop the Propaganda Distribution Party by rejecting saTAN and all his empty promises. The devils mission is to Pamper, Destroy and Pull down your future. They Promise, Deny, and Pollute the country with incompetence and mediocrity in leadership. Vote wisely. God bless you.

  • New Nation

    Every Nigerians home and abroad must rise up to salvage our nation from this bunch of crooks and rogue in the present govt. #jonajustgo.

  • Dotun

    “Soon it split into two, one headed by Dr. Fasheun and the other by Gani Adams.” That “split” has proved to be shallow, as they have been united by money under the GEJ banner.