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The Nigerian doctors under the aegis of National Association of Residents Doctors (NARD) are currently on an indefinite industrial strike action. As usual, public hospitals in Nigeria have been grounded for lack of medical attention because resident doctors have downed tools. This is the second time resident doctors are embarking on industrial action within two months.

This is one strike too many considering the health crisis in the country orchestrated by COVID-19 pandemic. By this, we mean no one is free from liability of this avoidable strike, not the nagging employee resident doctors and certainly not the employer Federal Government that is always entangled in lethargic and unfruitful bureaucracy, too obfuscating for desirable effective governance motion in times of emergency.

The complaint of the resident doctors who constitute a significant percentage of doctors in Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals has been clearly stated by the NARD president, Dr. Aliyu Sokomba. According to him, “We just resumed the suspended strike which we embarked in June this year. We suspended the strike to give the government time to assess our concerns. Unfortunately, they failed to do so,” he said.

The concerns border on salary arrears, a protracted pending hazard allowance, as well as lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in hospitals, etc, their legitimate entitlements.

As a matter of emphasis, NARD is miffed that Federal Government has “not made PPE available in various institutions across the country. We don’t have life insurance and our residency program has remained unfunded and worst still many governors are not paying salaries”, Mr Sokomba said.

Surely, it is in the character of our government not to honour trade agreements diligently and responsibly. This is legendary and sad enough. This and more have been responsible for endless industrial actions by teachers and management staff of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, health workers, Nigerian Labour Congress, etc.

By all means, the Federal and State Governments have no reason to pile up salaries, allowances and entitlements of medical personnel, as well as lack of PPE for all those working under serious hazards, especially in this era of COVID-19 pandemic. This should be addressed immediately. How can government expend more than N30billion on COVID-19 without prioritizing safety and wellbeing of health workers? That is too bad and unacceptable.

In the same vein, no matter the argument of the doctors, we consider this ongoing strike as extremely unnecessary, cold-hearted, a distraction and unpatriotic. No reason is justifiable enough to abandon the helpless and hapless patients in the hospitals around the country to die at the time COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the country’s socioeconomic fabric, especially when government is willing and ready to dialogue towards a peaceful resolution.

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