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BIG STORY

Special Report: The 10 Demands By Striking Doctors And FG’s Responses So Far

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The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) met on Wednesday and vowed to continue their nationwide strike until the federal government meets all their demands.

One week after the industrial action began, it has grounded activities in hospitals across the country but the resident doctors say, “a luta continua; vitória é certa“, which means, “the struggle continues; victory is certain”.

So, what is the bone of contention?

The communique issued after their meeting listed all the ten demands that prompted the strike and reappraised the federal government’s response for each of them.

Here is the full list of the demands as shared in the communique issued by Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, NARD president (pictured above):

1. Immediate Payment of all salaries owed to all house officers including march salaries (regardless of quota system) before the end of business on the 31st of March 2021.

As of today, although payment has been made to some of them, the payment is marred with so many irregularities. Most of them are still not paid.

2. Immediate payment of all salary arrears including march salaries for our members in all federal (GIFMIS platform) and state tertiary health institutions across the country.

None of these Doctors who have worked for over four months has been paid. Our members in states like ABSUTH, IMSUTH, and UNIMEDTH are still been owed twenty, five, and four month’s salaries respectively.

3. Upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50% of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance.

The hazard allowances have remained five thousand naira (5000) for over thirty (30) years. For the Honourable Minister of Labour & Employment (HMOL&E) to feign ignorance of this on national television today leaves a lot to be desired. This is an all-time low coming from someone who has been in the Nigeria senate where the monthly hardship allowance for senators is N1,​242,122.70. Demanding for 5 weeks for its review despite the ongoing strike is really shameful. A sincere government should immediately call all stakeholders together to address this issue once and for all.

4. Payment of death in service insurance for all health workers who died as a result of COVID-19 infection or other infectious diseases in the country.

This legitimate demand has been left unattended to.

5. Payment of Salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015, and 2016 to our members in all federal institutions including state-owned institutions as earlier agreed with NARD.

Nothing has been done in this regard.

6. Universal domestication/implementation of the 2017 MRTA by all federal government and state-owned training institutions to ensure proper funding of residency training in the country as stipulated by the Act.

Nothing has been done about this especially by the state governments.

7. Abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by our members on outside postings in all training institutions across the country with immediate effect.

The only positive result from the conciliatory meeting with the HMoLE, however no circular yet to back the abolishment.

8. Immediate payment of 2019, the balance of 2020 and 2021 medical residency training funds (MRTF) to our members including those under state government employ.

Despite our constant engagement with the FMOH on this issue, it was shocking to us that it took the conciliatory meeting by the HMoLE for the FMOH to be instructed to go and check if funding for residency training was captured in the 2021 budget. This is pitiful as well as awful.

9. Immediate review of the Act regulating Postgraduate Medical Training in Nigeria in line with international best practices to remove the unnecessary rigors in residency training in Nigeria, one of the factors attributed to brain drain in the health sector.

Nothing also has been done here.

10. The reintroduction of medical super salary structure and specialist allowance for all Doctors as already approved for some other health workers.

No mention was made about this very germane demand of our members.

This further buttresses the insincerity amongst government officials which has stalled meaningful negotiations in the wake of the current impasse.

 

Credit: The Cable

BIG STORY

Killer Juice: Don’t Take Products Not Approved By NAFDAC, Lagos Warns Residents

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, on his part, advised residents to check the expiry dates of the products they consumed.

Omotoso, in an interview with one of our correspondents, also urged residents of the state not to consume products that were not certified by NAFDAC.

Reacting to the story of the sales of expired citric acid powdered drinks in Kano State, the commissioner said the state consumer protection agency would not allow the ‘killer drink’ to be sold in the state.

He said, “We have a consumer protection agency saddled with the responsibility of curbing fake products and prosecuting people selling such.

“People must watch out for expiry dates on the products they consume and they have to ensure that such products are NAFDAC approved.”

Omotoso also assured residents of the state that there was no need to panic about the ‘killer drink.’

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10 Dead, 400 Hospitalized After Drinking ‘Killer Fruit Juice’ In Kano

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The Kano State Government on Thursday said 10 people had died and 400 others hospitalized after drinking a poisonous fruit juice.

The state government had month said the poisonous fruit juice claimed three lives and led to the hospitalization of 183 others.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, in a video recording made available to journalists in Kano on Thursday, stated that out of 400 people hospitalized, 50 persons were undergoing treatment for kidney-related ailments.

As the Kano State Government gave an update on the killer drink, Lagos, Katsina, Cross River, Sokoto, and Osun state governments urged residents to be vigilant before consuming any fruit drink.

Although they urged residents not to panic, they advised them to check the expiry dates of drinks.

The Kano State Commissioner for Health had at a press conference in Kano on March 16 said the outbreak spread to 13 local government areas of the state.

The state ministry of health said the affected patients showed symptoms such as bloody urine, fever, lethargy, and sometimes yellowness of the eyes (jaundice).

On Thursday, Tsanyawa urged residents to be vigilant when consuming any fruit juice during the ongoing Ramadan to avoid catastrophic consequences.

The commissioner stated, “As you are aware, the ministry of health had in the recent past announced the outbreak of a strange disease traceable to the consumption of a substandard drink.

“The consumption of this fake and substandard product has telling effects on the kidney and other vital organs of the body.

“Due to excessive heat that coincides with Ramadan, there is a possibility for high patronage of juices; I want to use this opportunity to caution residents to be on the watch-out.”

Kano has over the past couple of weeks been battling with an outbreak of a strange disease that has further stretched the health challenges of the state.

Thursday’s update by the health commissioner came after a major breakthrough by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control’s arrest of the suspects behind selling the Kano killer drink.

The Public Relations Officer of the ministry, Hajiya Hadiza Namadi, in an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday, said the video on the update of the incident was meant to further warn residents against taking the killer drink, traders were still selling in the state.

NAFDAC) had last week explained that it found out that the chemical added to the drink that led to the death of three persons contained ‘Hyroxylamine,’ used for terrorism.

The regulatory agency disclosed that all the merchants of the deadly chemicals and additives had been apprehended while further investigations were ongoing.

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BIG STORY

Sanwo-Olu Performs Ground Breaking Ceremony Of Lagos Rail Mass Transit Red Line Project [PHOTOS]

Peter Okunoren

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History was made today (Thursday) in Lagos, with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu breaking the ground for the construction of the 37-km Rail Mass Transit Red Line, which will traverse from Agbado to Marina, moving more than one million commuters daily.

The rail corridor will be constructed in three phases. The first phase (Agbado-Iddo), which will be completed in 24 months, will be sharing the track with the Federal Government’s Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project up to Ebute – Metta. It will have its dedicated track from Ebute – Metta to Oyingbo and reduce travel time from about two and a half hours to just 35 minutes. The passenger capacity of the first phase is 500,000 daily.

The ceremony was held at the proposed site of the Ikeja Train Station. It was witnessed by Minister of Transportation Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who was represented by the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh.

To be fully operational in the last quarter of 2022, the Red Line, a project of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), will have eight train stations – from Agbado to Oyingbo.

The Red Line is to raise mass transportation capacity in the State, complementing the Blue Line that traverses from Okokomaiko to Marina. The Blue Line is at 78 percent completion.

Sanwo-Olu, who was at the event with the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, handed cheques to property owners affected by the right-of-way, described the project as another initiative of his administration to deliver enduring infrastructure for the transport system and make Lagos a competitive megacity.

He said the traffic management and transportation pillar in his Government’s development blueprint – Project THEMES – was being implemented with the goal to develop an efficient and sustainable transportation model that would improve mobility, promote economic growth, and enhance the living conditions of residents.

He said: “Today’s flag-off of the construction of infrastructure for the standard gauge Red Line is another promise kept and it demonstrates, in practical terms, our commitment to achieve the objectives of traffic management and transportation pillar in our development agenda.

This is because we recognize the role which an efficient transportation system plays in enhancing people’s quality of life and as a major driver of socio-economic development.

“The State’s Strategic Transport Master Plan, which encompasses a number of projects that are germane to achieving our vision for a Greater Lagos, is founded on imperatives that seek to increase transport choices for all users and make the transit system integrated, attractive, convenient, affordable and accessible.

“Since efficient transportation is the backbone of any economy, we are happy to be committing this investment in our transport infrastructure, so that our people can meet their daily targets and aspirations. This all-important transport project we are all gathered to witness today represents a major step in this direction.”

Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the implementation of the Red Line was being supported under the Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) programme – a financing package put in place by the State Government through the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN). The Governor expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN Governor, Dr. Godwin Emefiele, for supporting the State in the bid to make the project a reality. He praised also the bankers who facilitated the funding.

To facilitate smooth operations of the Red Line, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government would be constructing ancillary infrastructure, including six overpasses at strategic level crossing points along the rail corridor to eliminate interactions between the rail system, vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The overpasses will provide grade-separated crossings that will enhance safety for the rail system and road users.

Sanwo-Olu said: “The unique characteristics of the Red Line is its integration with the Ikeja Bus Terminal, Oshodi–Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane, the future Orange Line, which goes from Ikeja to Agbowa, and the General Aviation Terminal One of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport through a skywalk.

“Another unique feature of the Red Line is that all the stations have elevated concourses with either at grade island or side platforms for easy boarding and alighting of passengers. The Red Line also integrates with our Bus Terminals at Oyingbo, Yaba, Oshodi, Ikeja and Iju, giving modal options to our people in their daily commute, either for business or leisure.”

The Governor presented cheques of varying amounts as compensation to 25 residents whose properties, businesses, and accommodation will be affected by the project. Over 263 properties are affected. Many of the property owners and tenants were smiling as they got their cheques.

Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladehinde, described the Red Line as a continuation of the implementation of the State’s Strategic Transport Master Plan, which made provision for six standard rail lines, one monorail, 14 BRT corridors, and over 20 waterway routes.

He said the intervention was a deliberate effort of the State Government and its development partners to make Lagos livable beyond the Year 2032.

Managing Director of LAMATA, Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, said the project was a bold step and commitment of the Governor to solving transportation challenges in line with his administration’s development blueprint.

She noted that the construction would not be delayed by funding and human factors, as stakeholders were duly carried along in the projects.

The Lagos mass transit rail dream began in 1983 during the tenure of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, but it was stopped by the then Federal Government. Sanwo-Olu has vowed to ensure that the Blue Line and the Red Line are completed to the memory of the late Jakande.

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