.NARD, FG logjam continues, as latter effects ‘no work, no pay’
Cashing in on the seemingly intractable, lingering strike embarked upon by medical doctors in Nigeria, authorities of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health have stormed Nigeria’s major cities of Abuja and Lagos, recruiting medics, First News can confirm.
In tow, the protracted industrial action showed no sign of abating at the weekend, as the federal government, through the Minister of Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, applied the big stick of ‘no work, no pay’.
Unfazed, the leadership of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) which called out its members on strike, said there would be neither retreat nor surrender, until their demands for improved welfare condition were met.
Only last week, the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja, in a suit, had ordered both parties- the FG and the NARD to maintain the “status quo”, a directive the latter merely interpreted to mean they should continue with the strike, “being the status quo”.
Already, however, the Saudi medical authorities have since landed in Lagos and Abuja, to poach no fewer than 20,000 medical personnel from Nigeria, especially the stranded medical doctors.
The Abuja team, up till Thursday, was sitting at the Abuja Sheraton Hotel to conduct interviews for prospective Saudi medics but reportedly relocated to a secret location over the weekend, “following harassment from security agents”, First News gathered.
In the same vein, similar interviews are being conducted in a discreet location in Ikeja, Lagos, reportedly under the aegis s of a group known as Successlink Consult.
The job offer, it was gathered, was for consultants and specialists in all medical fields, excluding psychiatry.
Among those in the Saudi team for the interview are medical consultants and doctors in various areas of specialisation.
Each applicant, sources said, paid N10,000 as application fee, after which medical certificates, means of identification, and other documents were tendered at the point of documentation.
A medical doctor at the Ikeja interview forum, who simply identified self as Femi, told our correspondent, “These people from Saudi Arabia really mean business o; and the interview is short, precise and without any bottleneck.
“They even gave us an idea of our pay package, which is three times higher than what we earn here.”
This is not the first such practical attempt by Saudi Arabia to poach medical personnel from Nigeria.
In March 2019, same exercise was held in Lagos and Abuja, simultaneously.
Meanwhile, the Department of State Service (DSS) on Friday denied buzzing reports that its men dispersed doctors attending the Saudi Arabia-organised job interview at the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja on Thursday.
Spokesman for the Service, Dr. Peter Afunanya, made the denial in a statement issued in Abuja.
Afunanya said the denial became necessary following incorrect information published circulated in some sections of the media that operatives of the DSS dispersed doctors attending the interview.
“Though this is illogical and does not add up, the sections of the media that reported it did not care to verify the news before going to print.
“No further evidence was also adduced to prove that the DSS carried out such operation at the hotel. It is obvious that the news is only designed to embarrass the organisation,’’ he stated.
Afunanya urged the media to always crosscheck facts and guard against the use of their platforms to mislead the public or to undermine national security.