The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said the federal government never ordered the sacking of 16,000 resident doctors working in federal hospitals across the country. Briefing State House correspondents yesterday in Abuja after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Chukwu said there was no basis for the government to sack people who had not been working in the last two months. “People that have not been at their duty posts for nearly two months cannot cry for being sacked,” he said.

However, his statement contradicted an August 13 letter signed by his permanent secretary, Mr. L. Awute, conveying the directive of President Goodluck Jonathan that all resident doctors at federal hospitals should be sacked. The minister explained that the directive suspending the residency programme at all federal hospitals was carried out to eliminate distractions at a time it is contending with the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
This had become necessary, he said, because the affected doctors were unhelpful in the war against the Ebola disease, adding that the government was still paying the salaries of the striking doctors. Chukwu said the government would engage the doctors in talks only when they returned to work, adding that there was no avenue for such talks at the moment.

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