The Federal Government has described the Bill by the National Assembly to restrict Nigerian doctors’ migration to other countries as “unworkable.”
Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, announced after an extraordinary Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the Abuja provincial parliament.
In the wake of this development, the Nigerian Medical Resident Association announced plans for a five-day warning strike, vowing to oppose any form of “enslavement” of Nigerian doctors. The Minister noted;
“Nobody can say they (doctors) will not get a practicing license until after five years. It will run contrary to the laws of the land that have established the progression in the practice of medicine.
“The Bill in the National Assembly cannot stop anybody from getting a full license. That Bill is a private members’ Bill. In the National Assembly, they attend to personal and executive members’ Bills. It is either sent by the Attorney-General of the Federation or by the President, but usually from the Attorney-General of the Federation. So, it’s not an executive Bill but a private member’s Bill.
“That document is, as far as I am concerned, not workable. Ab initio, I don’t support it, and I will never support it. As I said, it is like killing a fly with a sledgehammer. They should think of other ways if they are trying to check brain drain there should be other ways”.
According to the Minister, the government was already engaging with the Nigerian Medical Association, NARD’s umbrella body; therefore, the five-day strike is unnecessary. Ngige added;
“On the demand for a 200 percent salary increase, the NMA is the father of all doctors in Nigeria. They have about four or five affiliates, of which the resident doctors are an association. So, NMA is discussing with the Federal Ministry of Health, salaries, Income and wages commission, and the Ministry of Labour, and we know that NMA has accepted a salary increase of 25 and 30 percent across the board for their members.
“So, I don’t know the logic by which people who are members of NMA are now coming up to say pay us 200 percent increase. I don’t understand it. I have called the NMA President to contact them because, on the issue of remuneration negotiation, it’s NMA that the government deals with. So, I have told the President of NMA to contact them, and we will engage them. They should not go on any strike; it’s not necessary,”
cc: Punch Ng