The Federal Government on Monday opposed the bill before the National Assembly which aims at controlling the migration of doctors for greener pastures abroad.
This came as Medical doctors under the auspices of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, will tomorrow, commenced a 5-week warning strike over failure of the Federal Government to meet their demands.
The doctors had earlier issued a 2-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to resolve their demands, which include immediate 200 percent increment in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, and withdrawal of the Bill by Honourable Ganiyu Johnson.
The medical doctors are also demanding payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund, MRTF, commencement of payment of all salary arrears from 2014, 2015, and 2016, massive recruitment of clinical staff in the hospitals and complete abolishment of bureaucratic limitations to the immediate replacement of doctors who leave the system.
In the meantime, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, spoke in Abuja, while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the extraordinary Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.“Responding to the threat of doctors to go on a five day warning strike over what they perceived as the attempt to compulsorily keep medical and dental graduates in the country for five years before granting the licence to practice, Ngige said the bill would go against extant labour laws.
The sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives, Ganiyu Johnson, representing Lagos State, had explained that the move was to check the mass exodus of medical professionals from the country.
But Senator Ngige said: “Nobody can say they (doctors) will not get a practising licence till after five years. It will run counter to the laws of the land that have established the progression in the practice of medicine.
“I am a medical doctor. When you graduate from the medical school, you go on one year apprenticeship called housemanship or internship as the case maybe. After your internship, you are now given a full licence because prior to that, what you have is a provisional licence of registration with the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN.
”So, after that intensive training, you were signed off by consultants and you became a fully qualified medical doctor to attend to human beings and to work without any supervision again. Supervision then is voluntary. “”Resident Doctors are those who have that full licence and they want to acquire post graduate speciality and speciality is known like surgeon, gynecologists, obstetrics, paediatrics and internal medicine of family medicine. So, they are doctors in training. “”The Bill in National Assembly cannot stop anybody from getting a full licence. That bill is a private members bill. “”In the National Assembly they attend to private members bills and executive bills. Executive bills emanate from the government into the National Assembly with a stamp of the executive.”