Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
The Federal Government has said it paid N13.6 billion to end the resident doctors’ strike.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in company with his Health and Labour colleagues, Osagie Ehanire and Chris Ngige, disclosed at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, that the resident doctors’ strike was ill-timed and ill-conceived, coming at a time when Nigeria was grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister also disclosed that, aside from the N13.6 billion, another N4 billion has been included in the 2020 revised budget for the implementation of the Residency Training Programme. He said the Ministry of Health was working with the Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to build a template to assure the same in the personnel cost of the 2021 budget.
“We have also paid N9 billion as premium for group life insurance to all our health workers and N4,642,485,146.00 as special hazard allowance to health workers as already acknowledged in at least 35 hospitals. The payment of COVID-19 special hazard inducement allowances is based on four templates: 50 per cent of consolidated basic salary to all workers in COVID-19-designated hospitals and centres; 40 per cent of consolidated basic salary to health workers in non-COVID-19-designated centres and hospitals;
10 per cent of consolidated basic salary to non-health professionals engaged in those centres; 20 per cent of consolidated basic salary special allowance to all health workers directly managing COVID-19 patients in treatment and isolation centres.
“In summary, a total of 55,031 health workers in 35 COVID-19 designated hospitals and medical centres have been paid special hazard allowance totalling N4,642,485,146.00 as of today and more payments are being processed. Other matters relating to non-payment of arrears dating as far back as 2014 or salaries owed by state governments, are either in court, or beyond the power of the Federal Ministry of Health to resolve,” Mohammed said.
The minister also noted that “despite the payment of the hazard allowance and the group life insurance, the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as addressing other issues raised by the resident doctors, they still opted to proceed on strike. This is happening at a time the nation is battling a pandemic of immense proportions. We are also aware of the challenges confronting health workers in carrying out their duties, especially the provision of the PPE. But, I make bold to say that the Federal Government has done everything possible to procure PPE and make such available to our health workers.” he said.
Ngige confirmed that all the demands of the resident doctors had been met and addressed.