Tony Osauzo, Benin
Mobile screening team of the Edo State coronavirus (COVID-19) response, yesterday, protested in Benin over the state government’s failure to pay their two months allowances.
The protesters blocked the entrance leading to the Health Management Board (HMB), thereby preventing movement in and out of the premises.
The screening team made up of medical doctors, health personnel, contact tracers and data collectors, were initiated to trace people who have had contacts with COVID-19 patients, to increase the testing capacity of the state and stem the spread of the pandemic.
Governor Godwin Obaseki had set up the COVID-19 response team with the target to screen and test 500,000 and 15,000 persons, respectively.
But after working for two months, the response team said they received a WhatsApp message from the Incident Manager of COVID-19 mobile screening exercise, Andrew Obi, disengaging them without due payment of their monthly allowances.
Speaking on behalf of the ad-hoc staff, Ojei Emmanuel, said they have been treated with lack of pity and compassion.
“He (Obi) sent us a message without showing his face and that is not a credible act by any person.
“I pay N600 on a daily basis for transport fare, and I have been doing that for 61 days.
“We just came in today to find out that we have been relieved of our job and we have not been paid for two months. We have 26 groups containing about eight persons per group. There are group leaders in each group; there are doctors.
“Though it was 31 days, we still agree to be paid 90,000 from the outset not 93,000. So, why we are being owed, we don’t know, why we are being relieved of the job, we still also do not know; all we want is for them to pay what is due to us,” Ojei said.
When contacted, Commissioner for Health, Patrick Okundia, said he was having a meeting with the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu and the representative of the team before he can say anything. At press time, he was yet to address the issue.
Meanwhile, An aspirant of the All Progressives Congress for the Edo governorship election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has condemned the non-payment of allowance due to the COVID-19 mobile screening team by the Obaseki administration.
In a statement by Director of Communication and Media of his campaign organisation, John Mayaki, Ize-Iyamu described the action as callous, inhumane, and unacceptable.