The proposed indefinite strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) scheduled to commence Thursday, has been suspended for one week to allow the House of Representatives intervene between them and the executive.
This reprieve was sequel to a meeting between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara and the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria, NARD,
The meeting was convened at Dogara’s instance and presided over by him according to a statement issued by his spokesman Turaki Hassan in Abuja.
The suspension was sequel to the meeting between the association’s executive members, the Speaker and chairmen of relevant House Committees in his office.
Dogara while speaking asked for a week for the House to meet with the Minister of Health and fashion out ways to meet the demands of the resident doctors and address lingering grievances.
According to him, democracy is about the well-being of the citizens, and he further appealed to the association to understand that the country is presently going through financial challenges.
Dogara said, “It doesn’t matter what faith you profess, for instance, it is clearly stated in the Holy Bible that a labourer should be paid his wages even before his sweat dries.
“I believe that as a responsible government we know this. It is not like we don’t know. But as to challenges facing you, these are not things that we had discussed before, I only heard through the briefings I was given.
“If it is possible for you to open this window for us in the immediate to call on relevant persons who are in charge of this, in conjuction, of course, with active participation of your good selves, the relevant committees of the House, so we can sit at a table like this.
“I can sit down with the chairmen of committees, some members of the relevant committees, with your good selves and members of the ministry and they can bring these issues so we’ll understand why someone will work for four to eight months and not be paid. What is the problem? And then, we will attempt to address these issues together and if it doesn’t work, we can’t stop you from venting your anger and expressing your grievances.
I appeal to you to give us till next week when I hope we will be able to invite them and we will sit down together and iron out the issues.”
“Imagine a situation where all the resident doctors in Nigeria are on strike, what will happen to the people we represent? Democracy’s first promise is life, thereafter liberty, the third promise is the pursuit of happiness. And all of them rest on each other, if you don’t have life, then you cannot begin to talk of liberty, if you don’t have liberty then you cannot begin to talk about happiness.
“So, ultimately, all the three hang on life. When there is no life, there is nothing, democracy is useless because a dead man doesn’t have liberty.
“So for us, democracy itself is life and when you ignore sectors that provide these very essential services that support the health of our people, then we are even scouring democracy itself and its promises and so I agree with you entirely.
“It should be the responsibility of government, actually, to ensure that those who are rendering services, those who are working, providing the vents by which the nation moves, should be able to enjoy not just their salaries, but every other benefit surrounding their scheme of service.”
Dogara lamented that the wealth of Nigeria has shrunk due to decreased crude oil income and that it’s affecting the ability for government to deliver on its responsibilities.
The National President, Dr. Muhammad Askira, has earlier informed the Speaker that members of the association have not been paid salaries and other entitlements for several months