President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Abuja called on health workers to return to their duty posts, urging others contemplating strikes to opt for settlement of issues by negotiation, no matter how long it takes.
“The lives of citizens that could be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences,’’ the President noted, while receiving members of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) at the State House.
President Buhari assured that all outstanding benefits owed medical doctors will be cleared, after verifications, noting that embarking on industrial action at a critical health period for the country and citizens was not a good option.
“Protecting our citizens is not to be left to government alone, but taken as a collective responsibility, in which especially medical professionals play a critical role. Let me speak directly to the striking doctors. Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.
“This Administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers, pensioners and contractors and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations, once due verification is done. Debts genuinely owed Health workers will be settled.
“I learnt that some of the 12 points demand in the ongoing strike were already addressed. Though the Review of a new Hazard Allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors.’’
President Buhari said the outstanding issue of an Establishment circular issued by the Head of Service, removing House officers, NYSC Doctors from scheme of service had an addendum circular from National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they will continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure.
“I request that the agreement reached in the meetings of 20th and 21st August captured in the MOU which I have seen be religiously implemented,’’ he added.
President Buhari noted that Nigeria’s source of revenue over many years was dwindling, with a rising population.