The union had on Wednesday declared an indefinite sit-at-home action, to protest the harassment they have been receiving from security agencies enforcing the nationwide curfew.
NMA’s initial position
According to a statement from the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the strike action commenced at 6 pm Wednesday evening, and was initially supposed to last until the authorities clarified the exemptions to the nationwide curfew.
The union stated that it had become hazardous for its members “to continue to provide healthcare under the present confused arrangement”. The statement cited a recent development whereby an ambulance conveying a patient was grounded and prevented from moving to its destination, even as the attending health workers were harassed and temporarily detained.
The union had also made it clear that its members will return to work as soon as the authorities conclude a proper implementation of the curfew with the security agencies.
IG clears the air
Shortly after the NMA made its announcement, the Inspector General of Police Mr Mohammed Adamu, issued a statement directing personnel to ensure that essential workers are exempted from the curfew, especially health workers.
The statement, which was signed by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mbah, called on the Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) and Commissioners of Police (CPs), to give maximum effect to the orders and extend due courtesies to essential service providers so affected.
“The force is not oblivious of the sensitive, indispensable, patriotic and front line role of the nation’s workforce that falls within the category of Essential Service Providers in government efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“To this effect, all essential workers including medical personnel, ambulance service providers, journalists and firefighters remain exempted from the movement restriction orders as well as the national curfew,” he said.
The decision to call off the strike appears to be a response to Adamu’s statement.
Recall that with the commencement of the gradual easing of the lockdown, President Muhammadu Buhari had declared a nationwide curfew from 8 pm to 6 am. Essential workers such as medical professionals are the only exemptions to the rule.)
Nigeria currently has 6677 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, with 200 deaths and 1840 recoveries. Unfortunately, Lagos State has remained the epicenter of the virus in Nigeria, accounting for a significant percentage of the country’s overall active cases.
Ondo resident doctors call off strike
In a related development, the Association of Resident Doctors of the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital Complex (UNIMEDTHC) Ondo State, has called off its planned strike.
According to a report from NAN, the Acting President of the Association’s branch, Shittu Abiola announced this development in Akure on Wednesday, stating that the government had met some of their demands.
Sequel to their one-week ultimatum to the Ondo state government, the government had paid two out of their outstanding 2019 salaries arrears, as part of efforts to clear outstanding payments.
Abiola however urged the government not to ignore other demands, particularly the reconciliation and payment of salaries of the newly-employed Medical Officers who resumed in March, and to make subsequent salary payments regular.)
Some of the resolutions the congress reached alongside their decision to call off the strike includes;
“That our salaries henceforth be made regular and paid as and when due, with May 2020 salary paid on or before 7th June 2020.
“That the new hazard allowance for health workers (50% of basic salary) be paid at the end of May as promised at the meeting with the Head of Service (HoS) on April 30, 2020.
“Immediate reconciliation and payment of the salaries of the newly employed Medical Officers who resumed in March but were excluded from March and April remunerations.
“That September 2019 arrears and January 2020 shortfall be paid on or before July 31, 2020,” Mr Abiola said in a statement.