Chris Ngige says doctors are lucky to have him as the minister of labour and employment.
Ngige said this when he received members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and executive members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) who visited him at his office on Wednesday, in Abuja.
The minister commended the new NARD leadership for suspending its nationwide strike.
He said the federal government had increased the aggregate funds in the 2022 budget for hazard allowance from N40 billion to N47 billion annually.
He said the recent strike would not have degenerated if NARD’s previous leadership had given its members correct information about the issues on the ground.
The minister said the federal government was not indebted to any doctor since August 2 when NARD embarked on the strike.
He, however, noted that there were contentions about allowances, such as the medical residency training fund (MRTF), and some doctors who were not paid the special COVID-19 allowances.
“The previous NARD leadership hoarded information from your members. Instead, things wouldn’t have degenerated,” he said.
“There is no need being pugilistic. We know that we have opposition to our government. It doesn’t mean that if we are doing something right, we should not be praised.
“If the former NARD leadership were not playing politics, they should have reported well to their members, especially after the intervention of the Elders Forum of which the president and secretary-general of NARD were members.
“You are lucky to have me, a medical doctor and health system manager here as the Minister of Labour and Employment. So, when the matter came, the issues are clear to me.
“But, when you bring advice to both parties on how things should be done and it is thrown away completely, you leave us with no other option than to do what the law says that we should be doing.
“That was why I sent this matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).”
The minister assured the doctors that all the contentious issues were being addressed.