Press zooms in on nationwide industrial action by Resident doctors, others

The impact of the nationwide strike on the second wave of the pandemic by the National Association of Resident Doctors…

The impact of the nationwide strike on the second wave of the pandemic by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) which started today over unpaid salaries and hazard allowances dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Monday.The Guardian reports that the fear of complications in new COVID-19 cases and related deaths is real as doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) begin a nationwide industrial action today over unpaid salaries, benefits to families of members that lost their lives to the pandemic and hazard allowances.

A breakdown shows that 16,000 resident doctors out of about 40,000 doctors working in Nigeria, representing about 40 per cent of registered doctors, are going to down tools today. That means a lot of medical appointments and surgeries are going to be cancelled, most patients on admission are going to be sent home, and more hospitals will stop admitting new patients because they will not have the capacity to cater for them.

In the last four days, Nigeria has recorded an average of 500 COVID-19 cases in daily figures as the government struggles to deal with a new and more infectious variant of the virus.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) figures, 497 cases were recorded on Saturday, 590 cases on Friday, 558 cases on Thursday and 535 cases reported on Wednesday, which is now the highest daily increase in the country since March 4, 2021, when 708 cases were registered.

The doctors’ strike is also coming at a time of outbreak of cholera in more than 15 states of the Federation. In the last 48 hours, death toll from cholera rose to 69 as cases exceed 1,000 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), while the disease has already killed 169 residents and infected 5221 in Kano. Already, the NCDC has confirmed 526 deaths and 22,130 suspected cases in FCT and 18 states.

It is also feared that the situation would cause further brain drain and medical tourism where graduating medical doctors are leaving the country daily for greener pastures and more Nigerians are seeking medical treatment overseas, thereby draining the country of scarce foreign exchange.

Presently, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is on a two-week medical vacation to the United Kingdom, already spending a total of 201 days on medical leave as of yesterday in his six years administration (since May 29, 2015).

The newspaper says that the dollar pulled back at the parallel market at the weekend on the strength of rising market optimism and ease of panic over the stoppage of foreign exchange sale to the bureau de change (BDC) operators.

The dollar traded between N505/$ and N515/$ in the Lagos market at the weekend. On Wednesday, a day after the announcement of the new policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the naira fell to N525/$ raising the fear that it would hit N550/$ in the next few weeks.

There was panic across the market after a meeting by the Body of Bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) where it projected that the exchange rate would recover to at least N423/$.

Deposit money banks (DMBs) also commenced aggressive marketing of the personal travel allowances (PTA) and business travel allowance (BTA) through personalised messages and other platforms at the weekend.

Following the suspension of funding to BDCs, the apex bank had directed banks to create mobile applications and alert systems to update customers of their foreign exchange movement.

ThisDay reports that acting on the recommendation by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba, to suspend the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, over his indictment by United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Police Service Commission (PSC), yesterday, approved the IG request and has suspended Kyari.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba, had Sunday recommended the immediate suspension of Deputy Commisioner of Police and Head of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Mr. Abba Kyari.

He had also set up a four-man Special Investigative Panel (SIP) headed by Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Force Criminal Investigations, DIG, Joseph Egbunike, to investigate all the allegations contained in the relevant US court documents served the Nigeria Police by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

This is as some groups have warned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against using the case of a former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to cover up the international umbrage against President Muhammadu Buhari’s government over Kyari’s indictment.

However, a statement issued by the spokesman of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Ikechukwu Ani, said the suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31, 2022.

“The Police Service Commission has suspended Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force from the exercise of the Powers and functions of his office.

“Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31st 2021 and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States,” it said.

The Punch says that Nigeria’s liabilities to the World Bank and the African Development Bank rose from $7.14bn to $14.25bn between June 30, 2015 and March 31, 2021, data obtained from the Debt Management Office have shown.

This means that the commitment of the banks to the country rose by $7.11bn within the period under review. This represents an increase of 98.48 percent.

As of June 30, 2015, the Federal Government had borrowed a total sum of $6.19bn from the World Bank.

A breakdown of the group’s portfolio in the country shows that a greater part of the loans was obtained from the International Development Association, an arm of the World Bank that specialises in giving concessional loans to poor and fragile countries. The IDA commitment to Nigeria amounted to $6.09bn.

Another member of the group, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, had a commitment of $94.80m in the country.

Similarly, at the same time, the AfDB commitment to the country stood at $946.52m, comprising loans from various internal bodies such as the African Development Bank ($350m) and African Development Fund ($596.53m). By March 31, 2021, the Federal Government’s debt to the World Bank had risen to $11.51bn, reflecting a $5.32bn or 86 percent increase.

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