Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Wednesday concluded at plenary that strike actions by medical doctors are constitutional.
Simon Atigwe, (PDP, Enugu) presented the bill that bans medical practitioners from embarking on strike actions.
While Atigwe called for a second reading of the bill, his colleague Hon. Iduma Igariwey raised a point of order.
Igariwey cited Section 34(1)(c) of the Constitution, which states that “no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.”
“I have gone through the amendment he intends to make, that it is an offence for medical practitioners to go on strike.
“What it means is that at all times, they must be forced to work, whether the conditions are proper or not.
“I think it runs contrary to this constitutional provision,” he reportedly said.
Responding, Atigwe said the deaths of his loved ones during strikes by media doctors necessitated the bill.
“My amendment is out of experience. I have lost so many of my loved ones through strikes by medical doctors.
“I feel that if we can checkmate them, then we can save lives. We are not saying they will be forced to be working; the law is providing procedures on how their issues should be handled,” he explained.
But Deputy Speaker Idris Wase disagreed. Wase accused Atigwe of letting his “personal matters” override public interest.
“The day you took that oath, you swore to Nigerians that you would not allow your personal interest to influence you.”
Atigwe consequently withdrew the bill.