After three hours of talks, the Federal Government and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Thursday failed to reach an out-of-court settlement on the industrial action embarked upon by NARD members.
The meeting was on the advice of Justice Basha Alkali ahead of the resumed hearing of their case before the National Industrial Court (NIC) of Nigeria today.
Two days ago, the court asked lawyers to both parties to find an amicable resolution to the strike that has paralysed hospitals for weeks.
However, after over three hours of another round of meeting called by the federal government team led by Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige, both parties failed to reach an understanding.
When the meeting broke into session for consultations, both sides stuck to their guns, with NARD leadership walking away.
At the parley to representing the doctors were: NARD President Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi; Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Secretary-General Philips Ekpe; NARD Chairman (Communications & Communique) Dr. Julian Ojebo.
With Dr. Ngige in the Federal Government delegation Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mamman Mamuda and National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) Chairman Ekpo Nta .
A source close to the meeting told our correspondent that the Federal Government team refused to shift ground to accommodate the demands of NARD.
The source said the government side rejected the new terms brought forth by NARD before the strike could be called off.
According to the source, NARD also refused to yield ground, saying this made the leadership of NARD to leave the meeting abruptly without signing any agreement with the government.
The source said: “The Federal Government refused to sign the resident doctors’ terms of settlement, and the doctors in turn refused that of the Federal Government. Both parties meet in court Friday.”
Ekpe was heard telling Ekpo that the lawyers of both sides will meet in court.
Ekpo was also heard saying the government couldn’t have agreed because of the new terms presented by NARD.
Ojebo said the association has left the negotiation with their lawyer having failed to reach an out-of -court settlement with the Federal Government.
In an interview, Ngige told reporters that the government would harmonise the old memorandum of understanding with the striking doctors.
He said: “What we propose to do was to see if we can do some addendum to that old MoU because some of the things there have been overtaken by timelines. Unfortunately we have not been able to put the Ts and dot the Is there.
“We have given them some time to go and consult with their lawyers because tomorrow is court. They have time now to go. You can see the government side is here and we are waiting for our own lawyers to come so that we will discuss.
“We are not reopening negotiation. We are looking at the ways by which the court can be told that there is a room for settlement or for further negotiation.”