Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, has given the Abia State Government 21-days to clear the 24 months of salary arrears owed doctors at the Abia State Teaching Hospital Aba, ABSUTH; as well as those at the state Health Management Board.
NMA threatened to cripple the state health sector by embarking on total and indefinite strike action if Government failed to meet its demands before the maturity date of the ultimatum.
The medical body decried the deplorable condition of doctors in the affected health institutions and urged Government to do the needful.
NMA in a letter to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, said there was no going back in the proposed indefinite strike unless the arrears were defrayed.
The letter jointly signed by the NMA Chairman, Dr Isaiah Abali; and Secretary, Dr Daniel Ekeleme, noted that the indefinite strike was a directive by the national leadership of NMA.
“Nigerian Medical Association in her August 2022 National Executive Meeting in Gombe State, directed NMA Abia State to issue a 21-day ultimatum to Abia State Government to pay up all salaries owed doctors under the state employ; at the expiration of which all doctors in State, Federal and Private employ in the State, are to proceed on total and indefinite strike,” the letter sighted by Ikengaonline read.
It further read: “Doctors working in the Health Management Board ( HMB) are owed 12 months salary arrears, while Resident Doctors in ABSUTH are owed 20 months and other cadre of Doctors in ABSUTH 24months.”
“Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Abia State Branch hereby gives Abia State Government a 21-day ultimatum to clear all the outstanding salary arrears owed doctors working in Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) Aba and Hospital Management Board (HMB).
“If ABSG fails to clear the said arrears at the expiration of the 21 days, all doctors in Federal, State and Private employ in the state will embark on a total and indefinite strike.
“This communique serves as the notice of the proposed action.”
NMA which urged Government not to joke with the ultimatum said it should not be held responsible for the total shutdown of the state health sector if the arrears were not paid.
There have been persistent complaints by doctors and teachers over salary arrears just as pensioners have not ceased to protest pension arrears and unpaid gratuities spanning for over 15 years.