The sack was contained in a directive by Mr. Jonathan to the
Federal Ministry of Health to suspend all residency training
programme for Nigerian doctors.
The directive was stated in an internal memo dated August 13 and
signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health,
L.N. Awute, to federal hospitals.
Mr. Awute said the president’s directive was given following an
appraisal of the challenges facing the health sector.
“Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR has
suspended the Residency Training Programme for Doctors in
Nigeria indefinitely for the purposes of appraising the challenges
facing the health sector,” Mr. Awute said.
He said the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has also
directed that “letters of termination of residency training” be issued
to all affected resident doctors in hospitals immediately.
The memo asked the management of all public hospitals to take
necessary measures to restore full medical services in the
hospitals, even without the resident doctors.
In what appears to show the reason for government’s action, the
permanent secretary said the hospital could employ part time
doctors who must be of ‘good behaviour.’
“Note however, this is without prejudice to the employment of
Locum Physicians on six (6) months renewable contract tied to
productivity and good behaviour,” Mr. Awute said.
Such recruitments must, however, be “be approved by Mr.
President through the Honourable Minister of Health.”
In his reaction, the President, National Association of Resident
Doctors, NARD, Jubril Abdullahi, told PREMIUM TIMES that the
president’s directive is illegal.
He said the decision shows that Mr. Jonathan yielded to the
demand of the Joint Health Workers Union, JOHESU.
“The action of Mr. President is illegal because there are several
Acts that recognize Residencies in Nigeria and his action speaks
volume of the government’s decision to follow the dictates of the
Joint Health Workers Union. This is one of the issues the union is
“Whatever the government have done in their reaction to the
NMA’s strike means they are not ready for dialogue because while
we are engaging them, they have resorted to this,” Mr. Abdullahi
said, saying members of his association nationwide were about
A resident doctor, who spoke on anonymity to avoid persecution,
condemned the decision saying he was now officially unemployed.
The doctor, a staff of a teaching hospital, said a colleague of his
had just sent him another circular ordering all resident doctors to
surrender hospital property in their possession.
The circular, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, said the doctor’s salaries
and allowances for one month has been paid in lieu of the notice
as they ordinarily are not entitled to any salaries for the period
they have been on strike.
“In compliance with this order, I am to regrettably inform you that
your appointment in this hospital is hereby terminated forthwith,”
the letter issued residents doctors in a teaching hospital in the
South South region of Nigeria stated.
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, of which the resident
doctors are members, has been on strike since July 1.
One of the demands of the NMA was that the Federal Government
through the Ministry of Health should formalize and implement the
report of the inter-agency committee on residency training.
The NMA also asked the FG to release a uniform template on the
appointment of resident doctors and a funding framework for
residency training established while overseas clinical attachment
be fully restored and properly funded.
Resident doctors are doctors being trained to become specialists/
consultants in different fields of medicine. During their 4 to 5 years
training to become consultants, they work in different government
hospitals and make up the majority of doctors in teaching
“Let’s see how this will work. Except they want to kill the teaching
hospitals and the health sector in general,” another resident doctor
told PREMIUM TIMES.
He explained that he believed the incessant strike by resident
doctors and the NMA was what influenced the government’s
decision but doubted that it would be effective.
“In our own teaching hospital, about 90 per cent of the doctors are
resident doctors, there are few medical officers. So how can you
sack 90 per cent of doctors in a hospital?” he asked rhetorically.
Source: Premium Times