President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said that because of the importance his administration attached to the medical and educational sectors, he was determined to do all within his powers to resolve all issues that currently lead to labour disputes and strikes in both sectors.
Resident doctors and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities are currently on strike.
Jonathan promised to resolve the labour crises while granting audience to a delegation of the Nigeria Medical Association led by its National President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
His promise was contained in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, at the end of the closed-door session.
“I believe that we must manage both (education and medical) sectors in such a way that nobody engaged in them will think of going on strike again. We will continue to proactively evolve measures that will help us to permanently overcome the problems that lead to strikes by health and education professionals,” the President was quoted as saying at the meeting attended by the Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu and other top government officials.
Jonathan reportedly assured the delegation that his administration would take necessary actions to ensure that the right conditions were created for Nigerian medical professionals to stay at home and avail Nigerians of their skills and expertise instead of migrating to other countries.
He said his government was determined to correct a situation where about 25,000 Nigerian medical consultants were currently practising in the United States alone as confirmed to him by President Barack Obama.
He described as an anomaly a situation where this huge number of Nigerian medical experts were abroad and yet the nation could not treat its sick people in its own hospitals
He said, “There is clearly a missing link somewhere and we will do everything possible to fix it. We will continue to work with professional bodies and all stakeholders to come up with more policies and actions that will help us overcome current challenges in our medical sector.
“We will work with the National Assembly to ensure the quick passage of the National Health Bill. We will take prompt action to reconstitute the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. We will also consider recommendations for the establishment of the Office of the Surgeon-General of the Federation.
“I believe that we must always do what is best for our country. We will review all the other issues you have raised and act accordingly. When things are done properly, issues of welfare and remuneration in the health sector will disappear.”
The President also promised that the Federal Government would explore the option of creating a special intervention fund that would facilitate the rapid establishment of more centres of medical excellence across the country.