The President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr Uche Ojinmah, has said that the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and his colleague, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, should be held responsible if anything goes wrong in the health sector.
He stated that the ministries in charge of finance had yet to reply to the memo seeking implementation sent by the health ministry since September 2023.
Ojimah made this statement on the backdrop of the intended looming strike and the ultimatum given to the Federal Government by the Nigerian Medical Association.
The NMA further buttressed the fact that the associations would not rescind its decision to embark on strike actions if their demands were not met.
Ojinmah, at the closing ceremony of the NMA’s National Executive Council meeting in December, gave a January 31, 2024 deadline to meet its demands or risk industrial action in the health sector.
The medical practitioners had asked the government to implement the upward review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure. He also urged the government to implement the newly approved accruement allowance with arrears from June 2022.
The PUNCH on July 28, reported that the government approved the payment of N25,000 of peculiar allowance for medical doctors and dentists in hospitals, medical centres, and clinics in the federal public service.
But Ojinmah said while the association was grateful that the government had taken a step regarding one of its agreements, it awaited the full implementation of the agreements they had.
The association president also stated that the association could not guarantee industrial harmony after the ultimatum if the government failed to meet its demands.
Speaking on the progress made so far with the negotiations with the Federal Government, the NMA president noted that the stakeholders in the health sector had done their best to ensure that medical practices did not collapse.
He said he could say the same of the stakeholders in the finance ministry.
Narrating the ordeal of medical practitioners in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, Ojimah stated that the Ministry of Health had written a memo to the Ministry of Finance but till now, the Edun-led ministry was yet to reply to it.
The NMA President said, “But I can say that yesterday we had a meeting. the Ministry of Health, which is our parent’s ministry, has shown us evidence that they have written since September to the Ministry of Finance, which is supposed to have cash back to effectively commence and there has been no reply from the Ministry of Finance today.
“And as I am talking to you, I know that yesterday the Ministry of Health also drafted a reminder to make sure that nothing goes wrong by the end of the month and forwarded it to the Ministry of Finance.
“So anybody who knows the Ministry of Finance and their budget office should tell them that they are now responsible for whatever goes wrong. So that’s where we are.”
Ojimah further clarified that the Ministry of Health held a meeting on Tuesday, and reached resolutions on how to improve healthcare systems, however, their plans were handicapped by lack of funds for implementation.
When contacted for reasons why the finance ministry had not perfected the implementation process, the Director of Press and Public Relations, Stephen Kilebi, declined comments because the Minister Of Finance, Wale Edun, was currently not in the country.
He said, “As you know, the minister is not in the country and that means I can’t get reasons for that. Possibly, when he is back, explanations would be made.”