President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday ordered the suspension of all resident doctors working in Federal Government hospitals.
A Federal Government circular dated August 13 said the action was taken to review the challenges in the Health sector.
Since July 1, over 15,000 resident doctors had been on strike. They turned down all entreaties from the leadership of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and other stakeholders to call off the strike and assist government in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.
A statement jointly signed by the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Federal Ministry of Health, and Special Assistant, SA, to the Minister of Health on Media and Communications, Alhaji Isiaka and Dan Nwomeh, respectively, conveyed the president’s decisions.
The statement said the doctors’ strike “can be considered as one of the most insensitive steps to be taken by any association or a labour union in the history of this country”.
The release added: “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.”
The release, which noted that all appeals from prominent government officials and other stalwarts in the sector to broker a truce had failed, said further: “Pertinent to the issue under discussion are the current security challenges in the country, with the attendant mass casualties.
“The situation has been compounded by the recent importation of the Ebola Virus Disease into Nigeria on 20th July, 2014.
“Following the Presidential declaration of a National Public Health Emergency on Ebola Disease, which has united the entire country in the efforts to contain the disease, it is quite regrettable that the people who should take leadership role in the fight against Ebola disease are now the most unsupportive.
“All efforts by government to contain this disease are being frustrated by the continued industrial action of the NMA.
“The Federal Government has, therefore, decided that Residency Training Programme in Federal Government hospitals be suspended, pending the conclusion of the ongoing appraisal of the challenges in the health sector”, the release added.