NMA suspends strike in Abia

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On Friday, medical doctors in Abia State suspended the indefinite strike they embarked upon during the administration of the immediate-past governor of the state, Okezie Ikpeazu, to protest the backlog of salary arrears owed their colleagues working with the state government.

The suspension was announced in a communique issued at the end of an emergency general meeting of the Nigeria Medical Association {NMA} held Friday in Umuahia.

In the communique jointly signed by the NMA Chairman, Dr Isaiah Abali, and Secretary, Daniel Ekeleme, the doctors said the suspension was sequel to the frank discussions with the new administration in the state, which, NMA noted, had shown commitment to defray the arrears of salaries.

According to the NMA, Governor Alex Otti, in his inaugural speech and through his Special Adviser on Health, “appealed to doctors to suspend the strike and go back to work while giving him the benefit of the doubt to pay off these salaries as promised.”

The communique read in part: “Following a robust deliberation on the observations mentioned above, NMA Abia State Executive Council hereby declares the suspension of the total and indefinite strike with effect from Friday, June 9th, 2023.

“By this, all doctors in private, state and federal employ in Abia State should resume work.

“This enables the present administration to work and offset the lingering salary arrears.

“With this olive branch extended to the Abia State Government irrespective of the hardship being experienced by doctors under Abia State employ, we expect that the Government would expedite action on the payment of the salaries as promised to avert the ugly trend of the recent past.”

The NMA further stated that ”Doctors in Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Hospitals Management Board (HMB) and Ministry of Health are being owed 23, 16 and 2 months salary arrears respectively.

“That the immediate past Abia State Government did not make any reasonable and acceptable commitment to paying the salaries.

“That the present State Government led by His Excellency Dr Alex Otti, at different fora, promised to offset all salaries owed doctors in Abia State by December 31st 2023.”

“That this promise to pay off these salaries was also emphasized by his Special Adviser on Health in a meeting with NMA Abia State Executives on Friday, June 2nd 2023.”