The House of Representatives Committee on Health Care Services on Thursday appealed to striking workers to resume duty.
This is as the committee also issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Dr Tajudeen Sanusi, to appear before it or risk issuance of an arrest warrant on him.
Sanusi had failed to appear before the committee in Abuja on Thursday, forcing the lawmakers to postpone their investigative hearing on the ongoing nationwide strike by doctors to Friday.
The MDCN was asked to appear before the committee at the new date unfailingly.
Chairman of the committee, Tanko Sununu, who issued the threat, said the lawmakers were making efforts to end the current industrial action by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors.
Sununu dismissed Sanusi’s letter to the committee, in which the registrar informed the lawmakers that he would be appearing before the Medical Council Tribunal.
The chairman decried that instead of Sanusi to appear before the lawmakers over the issues surrounding payment of house officers, he sent a letter signed by a director of the council.
According to Sununu, the MDCN registrar’s decision amounted to prioritising an individual issue over a national emergency. He said the committee would be forced to invoke all relevant laws if Sanusi fails to appear before it by 9 am on Friday.
He said, “We sent out invitations to all major stakeholders to attend this meeting today. Unfortunately, he refused to show up. So, because he is a major stakeholder, we have decided to call off the meeting today and summon him to appear unfailingly before us by 9am tomorrow (Friday), failure of which we are going to invoke all the necessary powers of the National Assembly, including the warrant of arrest on the registrar.
“We cannot watch while people are suffering. We also call on the striking doctors to please temper justice with mercy. Everybody believes that your demands are genuine, but there are processes to achieve them.
“We were informed that they (MDCN) were right now conducting a medical disciplinary tribunal and meeting, which we believe is the case of an individual. We are here to address national interests. People’s lives are lost during the strike, services are interrupted; accessibility to health care is also denied because of the strike.
“And to make matters worse, in Nigeria, 70 per cent of health care procurement is out of pocket. The economy has gone down, so access to health care is in question. We cannot, as representatives of the people, allow the country to continue like this.”
Sununu disclosed that the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, would also meet with the striking doctors when he returns to the country.
“Mr Speaker is fully with us. Though (he is) outside the country, he is still going to meet with striking doctors to further solidify what is expected to be done today. The National Assembly will ensure the right thing is done, but we must also respect the due processes of the law.
“There are people who are receiving multiple salaries from different hospitals. Those who are receiving multiple salaries and the hospital involved were all forwarded to the committee, and the committee will table it before the House for necessary action to be taken. Definitely, justice must be done.”