Doctors made some demands in ignorance – Ngige

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Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has reiterated his position that government has substantially met the demands of the doctors.


Ngige faulted rejection of the Memorandum of Action signed by the leadership of the association with the Federal Government.


Reacting to the allegation from NARD that Federal Government has turned not honouring agreements into a habit, Ngige said some of the demands of the resident doctors were made in error.


The minister said this while fielding questions from journalists yesterday, arguing that some of the issues were already sorted out and implemented 100 per cent.


He noted that the outstanding issues that came up at the last conciliation had timelines as they were work in progress.


The minister said, “NARD made some of the demands in ignorance. They didn’t have the full picture; maybe they wished for a strike or their president pushed them into the strike so that his name would go into the annals of NARD as one of the tough presidents that has taken them on strike. That is wrong.


“He (the association’s president) didn’t participate in most of the discussions last Wednesday because he fell ill not long after the meeting started and had to excuse himself. He handed over to his deputy, the Secretary General and other officers of the association, who fully participated. We spent seven hours and by the time we put our signatures to the papers, it was eight hours.


“Disowning the MoA duly negotiated is unknown to labour. The two parties to the negotiation signed the MoA. Four officers from government and three from NARD signed the document and their president who was not at the meeting but fully represented by deputies went to NARD’s NEC and disowned the paper because they were signed by his deputies and secretary general.


“There is what is called transmission of power. He, as the president, fell sick and his deputies continued with the meeting. That is allowed.”


Ngige dismissed as untrue allegation that doctors in public health institutions across the country were not insured.


He said, “The Federal Government in March 2020 spent N13.3bn on group life insurance for all workers comprising all federal civil servants and public servants in some parastatals that can’t afford the insurance for their staff members.


“The N13.3bn was paid to 13 insurance companies and brokerage firms to administer. This is not the first time that NARD and teaching hospitals have been told to send in names and make claims for members who have lost their lives.


“It is an insurance that ran for one year till March and even at that, new payment is now being processed so that it becomes a continuous thing.”


He said, “If you have a cover and didn’t make a claim, nobody will pay you. Make your claim through the Ministry of Health and from there to the Office of the Head of Service. It gets to the insurance companies and payment will be made.”


He explained that the Federal Government fast-tracked the insurance cover in anticipation of casualties from Covid-19.


He added, “With Covid-19, we envisaged that health workers would need this more than any other person, so the Federal Government rushed the bill. There is a group life insurance in situ now for every health worker. Therefore, it is dishonest for anyone to make a claim to the contrary.


.“We also have additional insurance from the Presidential Task Force (on Covid-19) especially for those who work inside the Covid-19 isolation centres for them to get something additional. Moreover, there is insurance for compensation for injuries, diseases and even death in the course of work, called Employee Compensation.


“There is an Act, the Employee Compensation Act operated by the Nigeria Social Insurance Fund. Once you are insured under it, you make your claim.”