The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has threatened to shut down the entire health sector of Abia over unpaid salary arrears.
NMA chair in Abia, Isaiah Abali, disclosed this during a protest organised by the association at the Government House on Thursday in Umuahia.
More than 50 doctors were seen carrying placards with different inscriptions with ‘Abia govt pay our salaries’, ‘Abia doctors are starving’, and ‘Doctors’ lives matter’, among others.
The association’s leadership declared an indefinite strike on December 9, 2022, after the government allegedly failed to respond to its 21-day ultimatum.
Mr Abali said the protest was organised to express their grievances over the non-payment of salaries regularly and to state clearly that NMA was not affiliated with any political party. He explained that doctors in Abia State University Teaching Hospital(ABSUTH) and Hospital Management Board were owed 25 and 13 months’ salary arrears, respectively.
“We are resolute. Even if it means closing the hospitals until the present government leaves office, we are ready. It has been a game of giving excuses like ‘we can generate money to pay ourselves’, and ‘government does not have money’,” stated Mr Abali. “Workers deserve to be paid their wages, and the payment of the wages should not be politicised. If the government is saying ‘no work, no pay’, what about the work done without pay? Are you going to pay interest on it?”
Mr Abali added, “I challenge the government to pay doctors and see if any further agitation will hold.”
He urged the Abia government to clear the unpaid salary arrears of doctors before enforcing the no-work-no-pay policy, declaring that the association would not relent in protesting until its demands were met.