From Magnus Eze Abuja

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), yesterday, said nothing has changed in its planned nationwide strike with effect from Monday.

This is as Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has dispelled speculations of uncertainty over talks between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). 

NARD President, Onyebueze John, disclosed that the Memorandum of Settlement reached with the Federal Government in a meeting with Minister of Health and his Labour and Employment counterpart in the early hours of Saturday would be deliberated upon at their National Executive Council meeting in Abuja today.

NARD, therefore, urged the public to disregard rumours that the planned strike had been shelved, but to instead wait for the outcome of its NEC meeting.

The planned action is in protest against the failure of government to pay salary shortfall of resident doctors for 2016 and January to May 2017 and rectify the salary shortfall from August 2017, as well as inability to circularize House Officers’ entry point, among others.

Regarding ASUU, Deputy Director, Press, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Samuel Olowookere, said the Minister of Labour and Employment as the chief conciliator of industrial disputes in the country and the Minister of Education whose Ministry is the employer of  the  university teachers were still leading the talks. 

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He, however, explained that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had not taken over the negotiation with the striking teachers, noting that the consultation at the office of the Vice President by both Ministers after last Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting was in consolidation of the negotiations so far held with ASUU. 

“The Vice President has not taken over the matter. The meeting in his office was in consolidation of negotiations.  Engagement of the striking ASUU members is still being handled by Ministers of Labour and Employment and the Minister of Education”, Ngige stated. 

Stressing that issues of strike by an employee were under the purview of the Labour Ministry, the statement continued: “As a matter of fact, the Minister of   Education reported progress on the issue to the Federal Executive Council and together with the Labour Minister held a meeting with the Vice President subsequently.

This is normal procedure in government where Ministers report to the President or Vice President to streamline efforts and gains in a given assignment.

But that does not entail such assignment is no more being handled by the minister charged with the responsibility. “

Prof. Osinbajo, through his spokesman, Laolu Akande had on Friday denied taking over the negotiation with ASUU.