The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has told the Presidential Committee on Salaries that the federal government is not owing Doctors or health worker in Nigeria monthly salaries.
Ngige maintained this during a meeting of the Committee with the leadership of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) on Tuesday, September 7, in Abuja.
The Minister said the clarification is important to counter the propaganda by the striking members of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD.
He complained that the propaganda of NARD were complicating the reality of the federal government’s efforts to reposition the health sector.
“NARD goes about telling Nigerians that government is owing to them salaries and as well not taking the problems in the health sector seriously.
”But this is not true. It is incorrect. No doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or any other health worker including the driver is owed monthly salary.
“Government pays as and when due.
“The truth is that NARD doctors fail to tell Nigerians that their colleagues who are owed salaries are the ones illegally recruited.
”Therefore, they were neither captured by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation nor was their payments provided for by the Budget Office of the Federation.
“Monthly salaries are done as and when due for those legitimately employed by the Federal Government; but not to those illegally employed or need their appointments regularised and captured in the finances of government for payment.
”This takes a process which is not accomplished overnight,” the Minister said.
He referred to the presidential waiver for employment into the critical Health and Defence Ministries; in view of the general embargo on employment and assured that Doctors illegally recruited would have their service regularised in due course.
He noted that the money that the federal government owes few doctors and other workers was the 2020 COVID-19 allowances as he blamed the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and JOHESU for bringing segregation in the negotiation; for the new hazard allowance, which the federal government already budgeted N37.5 billion for.
According to Ngige, “We started joint negotiation to round off discussion and implement new hazard allowance; as early as possible so as to stave off the current wolf-crying by doctors.
”They brought in segregation and couldn’t agree with JOHESU and both now want separate negotiations. Why then blame the government and make it an issue to strike for,”