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Striking doctors adamant, accuse govt of insincerity

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  • FG appeals for end to the strike

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors has vowed not to call off its nationwide strike until it is convinced about the sincerity of the government in meeting its demands.

They embarked on strike from April 1 over alleged poor remuneration and conditions of service. They are also asking for a 50 per cent increase in the N5,000 hazard allowance.

But Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has appealed to the doctors to call off their strike in the interest of patients urgently needing care in the hospital.

Ehanire made the call at a media briefing on Wednesday in Abuja to commemorate World Health Day, celebrated every year on April 7, sponsored by the World Health Organisation and other related organisations.

The association said after its national executive council meeting on Wednesday through a communiqué that “NEC unanimously voted that the ongoing total and indefinite strike that started on the 1st of April 2021 be continued until the federal and state governments of Nigeria meet up with our demands.

“NEC painfully observed that despite all the efforts of by the National Officers Committee (NOC) to ensure that the Federal Government did the needful to prevent the ongoing strike, government has continued in their insincerity of promises hence the current stalemate.”

The association describing as disappointing the statement credited to Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, that he was not aware the doctors were collecting N5,000 as hazard allowance until the coronavirus pandemic started.

It said it had given a two-month ultimatum before declaring the industrial action “when it became apparent that the Ministry of Health was not interested in any form of settlement to avert the avoidable action.”

“NEC also noted that the Memorandum of Action signed was after 12 midnight on 31st of March, 2021 when the ultimatum had elapsed. Without prejudice to the labour laws and other extant laws of the land, the industrial action had already begun before the MOA was signed and as such, not tenable,” it added.

“They noted the admittance of the Hon Minister of state for health who wholeheartedly agreed that all the issues raised by NARD in her communique are germane and legitimate and further admitted that bureaucratic bottlenecks in government led to delay/non-implementation of previous memoranda signed with NARD,” it stated.

After appraising the government’s response to its demands, the association said the industrial action would go even as it expressed commitment to its oath to take care of patients.

It stated, “We want to use this medium to reiterate our commitment to the smooth running of all tertiary institutions in the country and the provision of specialist healthcare to Nigerians but we need to first of all care for our own health and welfare in order to give standard care to our patients.”

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JUST IN: Old naira: IMF asks FG, CBN to extend February 10 deadline

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for the extension of the February 10 deadline to phase out the old naira notes.

The International monetary body made the call just after the Supreme Court had restrained the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) from enforcing the deadline.

The IMF, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by Laraba Bonet, said the plea was on the hardship Nigerians were exposed to over the issue.

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It said: “in light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new bank notes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline should problems persist  in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline”.

The IMF is the first international financial organisation to openly call for extension of the deadline for the deposit of old Naira notes.

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Cash crunch: Protesters defy police in Abeokuta, make bonfires on major roads

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Residents of Abeokuta, Ogun State, took to the streets on Tuesday protesting the scarcity of cash and the attendant pains.

Major streets affected by the protests are Aladesanmi, Fajol and Somorin in Obantoko area of Abeokuta as the protesters made bonfires and chanted anti-CBN songs
The Sapon branch of First Bank was also vandalised and the protesters tried to set it ablaze.
Ogun Police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the protest, saying police officers were on the ground to monitor the situation and prevent the destruction of property and loss of lives.
He said some group of boys were involved in the crisis.
The police later came to disperse the protesters but they regrouped as soon as the operatives withdrew from the scene.
The situation affected vehicular movement as motorists and pedestrians ran in different directions to avert being caught up in the chaotic situation.

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Court frees Diezani associate Omokore of $1.6bn fraud

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An Abuja federal high court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Jide Omokore, chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, of $1.6bn fraud allegations.

Omokore, an associate of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo on a 15-count charge on July 4, 2016.

They were accused of fraudulently diverting the $1.6bn said to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.

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