The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has declared its resolve to enforce the ban on private practice by doctors on government payroll.
The action came on the heels of recent strikes by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
FEC also directed federal agencies to enforce the “no work, no pay” rule against civil servants who abandon work to embark on strike.
These approvals were made based on the recommendations of a technical committee report that sought to review the country’s industrial relations, particularly in the public sector.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, alongside his Labour and Employment counterpart, Dr. Chris Ngige, briefed State House Correspondents on these decisions reached during the FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Adewole said that “for us in the health sector, the most important is the need to do comprehensive job evaluation, so government has decided to set up a committee that would evaluate what exactly we do as individuals, how much should we be paid in a way that we can really pay appropriately across board through the entire country.
“Council also looked at the issue of residency training programme and decided that the training should last for a fixed time of seven years after which individuals should exit from the programme so that other people can come into the programme.
“Council has also decided to look into the issue of private practice by medical doctors in the public sector and a committee has been set up to look extensively into that issue because we want to resolve the issue of what the law of the land states and what the rule of professional ethics say.
“The law of the land does not allow any public officer to do anything other than farming, so that committee would make appropriate recommendation to government on these important issues which is of considerable interest to quite a number of Nigerians.
“In addition to that, we will also look at the Yayale Ahmed Report which tried to look into the relationship between professional groups in the health sector, and the office of the SGF has been mandated to forward a white paper on the Yayale Ahmed Report to the FEC so that once and for all, government can restore harmony to the health sector.”
Adewole also briefed the FEC on public health challenges such as the recent outbreaks of Lassa Fever, Cholera, Yellow Fever and the latest suspected Monkey Pox, saying that further tests are ongoing in Senegal to confirm if what is spreading across the country (33 cases recorded) are actually monkey pox.
According to him, “we have recorded 33 suspected cases in all from Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River States.
“What is particularly significant is that many of the cases so reported do not fit into the classic prototype of monkey pox, but we are trying to confirm before the end of today or early tomorrow, exactly what we are dealing with, if it is it truly monkey pox. But what is obvious is that we have a disease that is close to the pox family.”
Nonetheless, he advised Nigerians not to panic but to observe basic hygiene practices like regular washing of hands, avoiding contact with dead animals, maintaining clean environment and for health workers to maintain “barrier nursing’ while managing suspected cases.
On the “no work, no pay” law, Ngige said that the 2016 technical report emphasised the need to implement it because it is neither a rule nor a policy, but a law captured in Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act of the Federation.
“It says that workers have a right to disengage from an employer if there is a breakdown in discussions or negotiation. But for the period that the worker does so, the employer should not pay and those periods are to be counted as non-pensionable times in the period of work.
The FEC further vowed to check workers who “are permanently doing union activities, as they are presidents of trade unions for life and they sit tight.”
He disclosed that the Labour Ministry was directed to fish out the unions that don’t have constitutions with prescribed time limits for their elected officers, as such unions should be made to comply with the law, so that people can be elected to serve out their terms and other people will take their places.