As the rift between the 10,000-member strong Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Federal Government rocks to and fro, informed sources have listed reasons why government is foot-dragging in attending to the doctors’ demands.

Sources close to government say once President Bola Tinubu took the twin decisions to cancel the fuel subsidy regime and put the naira into free float on his inauguration into office, he has met with stiff and persistent headwinds that left him little time to attend to anything else.

Our sources further say that following this, government’s meetings with the doctors’ representatives and other groups since then, have mostly amounted to little more than shadow boxing, aimed more at better understanding the doctors’ demands, expressing empathy with them and buying time, rather than interrogating their position and petitions and finding solutions to them.

It was further said that a president’s first weeks in office are typically spent acquainting himself with his new environment, processes and protocols and mapping out plans and strategies to deal with the tasks ahead, pending the appointment of ministers and other aides to whom assignments would be duly delegated for work to begin in earnest.

The position then is that the president is waiting for ministers to assume office and appropriately address the doctors’ petitions.

Also, it is said that some of the presentations on the doctors’ demands were written in civil service or medical codes. In other words, they were not explicit and required further explanation.

Many of the President’s inner circle of close associates, who should typically function as a kitchen cabinet in the absence of a formal cabinet, were said to have been dislodged as the transition was made from a political electioneering group to that of a government in power.

It is also said that many of the associates who retained their positions in the President’s inner circle and supposed kitchen cabinet were distracted in the ongoing jostling for plum office in the new administration and were, for that reason, unable to render meaningful support.

Furthermore, it is said that government is mindful of the financial implications of the doctors’ demands and how to source and sustain funding for them and that recommendations in this line would largely be left to the coming Minister of Health and his team in the ministry.

Related News

Our sources also say that government is wary that acceding to the doctors’ demands for stepped-up wages and allowances could spur a deluge of similar demands from other groups within the labour sphere, which would then be difficult to deal with and illogical to turn down.

Even then, it is said, government considers the doctors as a special interest group whose case should be treated with particular care, consideration and dispatch because of the critical service they render, the special skills they possess, and the worrisome outflow of medical personnel from the country, which is undermining the local health delivery system.

Before calling off the strike, NARD had likewise suspended its planned nationwide protest and picketing of government establishments aimed at attracting more visibility and sympathy to the plight of doctors.

Innocent Orji, national president of NARD, said on Friday evening that the doctors were petitioning for eight reliefs from government. These, he said, included the recruitment of more doctors to replace those who have migrated or have otherwise moved on.

The reliefs, Orji said, also included the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) and the immediate release of the circular on one-for-one replacement.

NARD is also demanding payment of skipping arrears and upward review of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) in line with full salary restoration to the 2014 value of CONMESS.

Other demands include payment of the arrears of consequential adjustment of minimum wage to the omitted doctors and reversal of the downgrading of the membership certificate by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).

The doctors are also demanding new hazard allowance, skipping and implementation of corrected CONMESS in state health institutions and payment of omitted hazard allowance arrears.