The Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, has lamented that the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) reneged on the agreement it reached with the Federal Government by embarking on a nationwide strike.
Ngige made this disclosure during “Politics Today,” aired by Channels Television on Friday night, April 2.
According to the minister, the Federal Government already had an insurance policy in place, where a sum of N9.2 billion had been paid to compensate doctors and other civil servants who lose their lives, while in active service.
He said: “They talked about group life insurance, that 17 doctors lost their lives while taking care of people with COVID-19 and that as at now their families had not been compensated.
“We have sympathy for those who lost their lives, they are in the frontline. But this government has put in, in the wake of COVID-19, in April 2020, a N9.2 billion insurance policy with 13 insurance companies for all workers that are civil servants.
“We also said there is an additional insurance policy for injuries and others as compensation.
“The N9.2 billion is fully paid for by the Federal Government of Nigeria for doctors, pharmacists, laboratory technologists including persons, who are outside the health system.”
Ngige also says he will invoke “weapons in the labour laws” on resident doctors if they refuse to back down on the ongoing strike after government meets some of their demands.
Ripples Nigeria had reported that the NARD commenced an indefinite strike over salary arrears and owed allowances.
“By Tuesday, I will invite them back. If they become recalcitrant, there are things I can do.
“There are weapons in the labour laws I will invoke. There is ‘no work, no pay’. Their employers have a role also to keep their businesses afloat, to keep patients alive. They can employ local doctors.”
The minister, however, noted that he is optimistic that the matter will be resolved within a few days, as meetings have been arranged to clear the backlog of owed salaries and allowances.
“The Federal Government has told the Federal Ministry of Health to liaise with the insurance companies to pay the families of the health workers that lost their lives.”