President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday urged members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to suspend the 40-day-old strike.
The resident doctors embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike on August 1 to protest the backlog of unpaid salaries and allowances among others.
The President, who made the call during a meeting with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, stressed that industrial action was not the best option to pursue grievances.
He also appealed to other groups planning to embark on strike to come forward and negotiate with the government.
Buhari said: “Protecting our citizens is not to be left to government alone, but taken as a collective responsibility in which especially medical professionals play a critical role.
“Let me speak directly to the striking doctors. Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.
“This administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers, pensioners and contractors and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations once due verification is done. Debts genuinely owed health workers will be settled.
“I learnt that some of the 12- point demands in the ongoing strike had been addressed. Although the review of a new hazard allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors, this will addressed adequately.
“I request that the agreement reached in the meetings of August 20 and August 21 captured in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which I have seen be religiously implemented.”
“We are also supporting initiatives to expand health insurance coverage and bring more resources to health financing.
“We have many more challenges ahead and much more to do, for our large population.
“In this respect, it is important to remind you that, as senior medical personnel and representatives of one of the most respected professional groups in the world, your responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Nigerians remained clear.”
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