The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has said the comments of Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour, over the ongoing strike by doctors, is capable of paralyzing the health sector in the country.
The doctors embarked on an indefinite strike on Thursday, over salary arrears, unpaid allowances, among other issues.
Ngige, who featured on a Channels Television programme, had threatened the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) that he will invoke “weapons in the labour laws” if they continue to be stubborn on the ongoing strike.
He had also claimed that resident doctors in the United States foot the bill for their residency training programme.
But in a joint statement, Innocent Ujah and Philip Ekpe, president and secretary-general of NMA, described Ngige’s comments as hate speech.
It said the minister’s comments can escalate the current brain drain in the sector in Nigeria.
“In as much as we appreciate the efforts being made by the government to resolve the issues that have led to this avoidable and unnecessary industrial action by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) wishes to clarify the misinformation by the Minister in the interview, which is seriously viewed to be a hate speech capable of bringing down the health system in Nigeria and thereby worsening the health care delivery and further escalate the rather unimaginable current brain drain,” the statement read.
“In the United States of America and other developed countries, Resident Doctors work as they are being trained and they are paid by their employers.
“In the United Kingdom, the employer of Resident Doctors is the NHS, which is similar to what is obtainable in Nigeria.
“Furthermore, Residents also pay to take their postgraduate Medical examinations in the developed countries, which is what also obtains in Nigeria.
“The NMA is totally in disagreement with the way and manner some government functionaries carry out their duties which is completely insensitive to the plight of the people.
“Accountability is the fulcrum for good governance in all facets and we do not demand anything less from those charged with the responsibility of governing the people.”