The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) says its 200% pay rise demand is not outrageous, adding that the Federal Government can afford it.
The association demanded a 200 percent upward review of the consolidated medical salary structure (CONMESS) and payment of the salary arrears to resident doctors.
NARD National President, Emeka Orji stated that the review of salaries of resident doctors should have taken place in 2014 with rising inflation and attendant economic shocks. “Things are getting worse and there is no increment in take-home pay.”
On April 29, 2023, NARD issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to commence the implementation of all pending agreements, or the doctors will embark on a nationwide strike.
Amongst other demands, the resident doctors want an immediate increment in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) salary structure to the tune of 200 percent of the current gross salary of doctors.
The government had described the demand of the doctors as ridiculous, but the NARD president said the 25% increment offered by the government is not sufficient to cater to the needs of doctors in the country.
Orji, a Senior Registrar, Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery, said doctors and nurses were not part of the last minimum wage increase and that pay rise for medical professionals was long overdue.
The NARD president also said the government has not reached out to the association for talks despite its two-week ultimatum but has been issuing threats.
He said any increment to their pay should be based on the inflation rate from 2009 till date.
“When people hear that we are demanding 200 percent upward review, it may sound outrageous, but we didn’t just come up with that figure. I’ll give an instance, the exchange rate then was N152/$1. We know what it is today. The fuel price then was N65/litre. We know the amount today and there is even an imminent increment.”
“When the minimum wage was N18,000, the equivalence in dollars was 91. Now it is N30,000. This thing is not about increment, but can you increase this in a way that the take-home of Nigerian doctors and indeed other heath professionals will be good enough to make them stay in their country.
“We know the country can afford it. All that is needed is to increase budgetary allocation. The percentage of budget allocated to health for this year is 5.7. You cannot be able to meet up with that kind of allocation.
He also stated,“We are not even asking for what is paid outside the country, we are just saying pay us something that matches the economic status of the country and standard of living. It’s only when you do so that people will decide to stay in the country.”
The NARD president further demanded the immediate withdrawal of the bill seeking to compel medical and dental graduates to render five-year compulsory services in Nigeria before being granted full licence to practice.