The federal government on Sunday berated the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) for giving it 21 days as an ultimatum to resolve the industrial dispute between it, resident doctors and other affiliated unions of the association.
The NMA had on Saturday in a communiqué issued at the end of its NEC meeting, which was signed by its president, Prof. Innocent Ujah and Secretary-General, Dr Philips Uche Ekpe, said the various industrial disputes involving the different affiliates of the association were exhaustively reviewed during the meeting.
The affiliate of NMA includes the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) and the Medical and Dental Specialist Association in Basic Medical Sciences (MEDSABAMS).
“After due consideration, NEC puts the Federal Government on a 21-day notice to fully resolve all the issues contained in the various agreements signed with affiliate members of the Nigerian Medical Association (including MDCAN, MEDSABAMS and NARD),” the association had said in the communique.
But reacting, the Ministry of Labour and Employment said the 21-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government by the NMA is in direct collision with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on August 21, 2021.
A statement by the spokesman of the Ministry, Charles Akpan, said the Federal Government is religiously implementing its own side of the agreement, with effective monitoring by his office of the Minister of Labour and Employment, adding that the NMA is yet to move a needle on the roles assigned to it in the MoU.
“First is that the NMA communique in Benin which issued a 21-day ultimatum is at variance with the timeline in articles II, Vii, Vii and X of the MOA.
“Importantly, article II on payment of the outstanding hazard allowance from the 2020 Medical Residency Training Fund states that the Fund will be paid after verification and reconciliation of figures from the BOF.
”Till now, Both NARD/Postgraduate Medical College are yet to submit the validated application for the eligible doctors missed out in 2020 to enable this payment.
“Article Vii on withdrawal of the circular from the Office of the Head of Service removing House and NYSC Doctors from the scheme of service says ‘The NMA should submit her position immediately to the FMOH PS (FMOH) for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with a view to processing and issuance of clarification circular within two months. The NMA is yet to comply with this.’
“Similarly, the Technical Committee set up in article Vii to tackle the backlog of arrears on GISMIS was given 4 weeks effective Monday, August 31, 2021, to round off its assignments. Is this not on collision with the 21-day ultimatum?
“Also, article X of the MOU also states that the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) should facilitate the withdrawal of suits by MEDSABAM against National Salaries Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) and the Accountant-General of the Federation to ensure the amicable resolution of the issues. The NMA is yet to do this, yet issuing a fresh ultimatum.
“It is therefore clear that the 21-day ultimatum will neither assist the NMA discharge the role assigned to it in the MOU nor facilitate the faithful implementation of the timeline which the federal government has given every attention.
“The truth is that NMA should play its role as the guardian of its affiliate associations instead of descending into the arena for needless fear of impeachment.
“It has by the communique issued in Benin, abdicated the main role assigned to it in the August 21 MOU.”