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Join Strike Now Or Pay N5m Fine, NARD Threatens Covid-19 Doctors

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The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has ordered doctors at the Covid-19 isolation centres to join the ongoing nationwide strike.

NARD threatened that failure to do so will attract a fine of N5million.

The body also warned that any branches ignoring the ongoing strike, which started on April 1, would not be able to hold any national position for the next two years.

The threat to impose a N5million fine on errant branches was contained in an internal memo sent out to members by the National Executive Council of the association.

The internal memo read in part, “NARD affirms her commitment to the welfare of all members. All members of NARD will be levied the sum of N2, 500 as a strike levy for the smooth prosecution of the industrial action.

“Penalty for any centre that sabotages the industrial action will be payment of a fine of N5million and suspension from holding any NARD national officers committee positions for two years.”

NARD, an association of doctors undergoing residency training, had on April 1 begun a nationwide strike over the government’s failure to pay salaries of house officers and review the N5,000 hazard allowance of doctors.

Last-minute efforts on March 31 by the Federal Government to prevent the strike failed as the doctors shunned an agreement they signed with the government on the grounds that the proposals contained in it were not new.

On Hazard Allowance, he said the government had started talks with NMA and others since February.

Ngige said, “That issue about hazard allowance, we started that proactively in February. I started that with the Remuneration Committee of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the instance of the NMA President who solicited for me to see them.

“With my officials from Employment and Wages Department, we started some discussion. We have also held some preliminary discussions with some other groups in the health sector. This is a business or work in progress.

“For anybody to say that we have not started discussing, it is a lie. But, it is not a business we can do with only doctors. We have discussed it with lab technologists, medical workers union, association of radiologists, pharmacists and all that work in the hospital environment. Everybody that works in hospital environment as at today takes hazard allowance

“The hazard allowance they are taking today is very paltry, it is N5,000. That was why the Federal Government decided to shelve it and paid them Special Covid-19 Hazard Allowance last year for the months of April, May and June. And it cost the government N32billion.

In a statement by the Ministry of Labour and Employment through its Deputy Director (Press), Mr. Charles Akpan, explained why the salary arrears accumulated.

It accused some Chief Medical Directors of conducting recruitment of House Officers in violation of a circular which prohibited it.

It said, “The central placement of House Officers was approved by the FEC for all would be intern in federal tertiary institutions to enable these graduates not to roam the streets for up to twelve months, waiting for spaces for housemanship. This was meant to curb favouritism and corruption associated with their recruitment in different centres, hence, the last Executive Committee of the NMA was informed of the decision and they fully supported.

“This same centralised recruitment was meant for other health professionals. But, medical graduates were chosen for the pilot, which was to start in 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, January, 2021, was chosen as the commencement of recruitment from the federal teaching hospitals and medical centres. NMA was aware of this arrangement and made no effort to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and the Committee of Chief Medical Directors to ensure a smooth transition and migration of house officers at the tail end of their training programmes into the IPPIS platform for the uninterrupted continuation of their emoluments, salaries and allowances.

It also quoted the minister as saying, “I am aware that the NMA President had complained he does not get the expected cooperation, even audience with the two health ministers and their officials, but that is one of the challenges faced by people in leadership, a situation that has made my ministry to play proactive roles to prevent the strike not only in health sector, but in education and others.

“But the NMA President is reminded that he cannot effectively pilot the big job of the presidency of the Nigerian Medical Association from his new seat as the vice chancellor of the new Federal University of Medical Science, Oturkpo, Benue State.”

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Paris Club Refund: Suspicious N159bn Judgment Debts Worry NGF

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has engaged Femi Falana, SAN, to challenge the judgments awarding some “consultants and contractors” humongous shares of the Paris and London Club refunds received from the Federal Government by the various states and their local governments.
Falana, in a letter dated April 19, 2021, written to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, on behalf of the NGF, requested that the plan to issue promissory notes to the purported creditors be suspended, in deference to the legal steps being taken to appeal against the judgments.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria’s letter is sequel to an earlier correspondence dated April 8 sent to the finance minister by a law firm, Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN & Co, on behalf of one of the creditors, Ted Iseghoghi-Edwards.
Investigations on the controversial judgment debts have revealed that Iseghoghi-Edwards is laying claim to $159million for providing consultancy services to the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) to secure the Paris Club refund.
Findings show that a total of $418million judgment debts (about N159billion at the exchange rate of $1 to N380.5) has already been cleared for payment by influential officials of President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
It was gathered that those behind the desperate push for the payment are Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the finance minister.
They have concluded on paying the six creditors through the issuance of promissory notes to be funded from state governments’ allocations for 10 years.
It was learnt that the officials are pushing for the payment despite Mr President’s directive suspending it after the NGF raised an objection to it, and called for a forensic audit of the whole indebtedness.
The Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) has, on different occasions, written to the AGF, querying the claims by Iseghoghi-Edwards and a firm, Riok Nigeria Limited.

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RSG Seeks Improved Media Partnership On Projects Delivery

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The Rivers State Government has restated its commitment to partner with the media at all times in order to consolidate on the delivery of infrastructural development and good governance.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim stated this, last Monday, in a keynote address at the 2021 Media Day, organised by the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, District 9141 in Port Harcourt, with the theme, ‘Developing Media Infrastructure for Good Governance’.
“Using the various media infrastructure in which a wide range of debates take place and variety of viewpoints represented, the Rivers State Government led by Governor Nyesom Wike has continued to deliver projects that impact positively for the betterment of Rivers State and her people.
“Between last year and the whole of the first quarter of 2021, Rivers State was on the global map as eminent citizens of Nigeria joined the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to commission projects in eleven local government areas of the state.
“This unprecedented development coming at a time when most leaders were hiding under the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic to cover their ineptitude will surely remain legendary,” he noted.
Nsirim asserted that many social commentators across the country have opined with convictions that the only person who can realistically beat the impressive record is Governor Nyesom Wike himself, especially when the next phase of projects commissioning would commence, “which will unveil some of the most amazing and marvelous legacy infrastructural projects ever seen in Rivers State.
“Project commissioning has become synonymous with the Governor Wike’s administration in the last five years and even against the backdrop of the noisome buzzing of a jobless, fragmented and confused opposition in the state,” he said.

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No Reasonable Govt’ll Allow Pantami In Cabinet, Wike Mocks Buhari

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, should resign from office, irrespective of his recent volte-face on his previous support for extremist groups.
The governor noted that in an ideal society, an allegation that the United States of America has placed a serving minister on its watch list as regards to terrorism, should jolt any government into action.
He stated this during an interview with the African Independent Television (AIT) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday.
“If it was really where a government is working, if an American government says your minister is on a watch list, it calls for concern for you say look there is a problem. The moment a high government official is on a watch list as to regards to terrorism, no government can fold its hands and allow it.”
Wike, said the minister ought to have resigned from the government immediately the information about his extremist views in support of terror groups became a matter of public discourse.
The governor described as worrisome the decision of the Federal Government to remain mute amidst the raging controversy about the minister’s sympathy for global terrorist groups.
“I don’t understand why a reasonable government will allow such a person to be in the cabinet.”
The governor noted that the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government was known for its proclivity to shield persons of questionable characters, even when the country’s secret service presents overwhelming evidence against such individuals.
“But you were here when DSS wrote a report against (Ibrahim) Magu. What happened? Look, I have never seen a country that your secret service wrote a report about the nominee of Mr President, questioning his character and the rest, and that he is not appointable. What happened? So, what are you talking about? What removed Magu is power play.”
Wike also took a swipe at the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for not taking stern disciplinary action against former Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, who recently claimed he conspired with others to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election.
“If I was the leadership of the party, I would have suspended Aliyu for that comment he made. But, you see nothing will happen. The National Working Committee will not do anything. Why? They need Aliyu to support them.
“I cannot understand why you are a leader; so, to speak, you come out and tell the world why you fought your party. I have never seen a thing like that in my life. Assuming you did it, you now want to rub it on them, and that nothing will happen.”

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