By Haleem Olatunji
The federal government says it has released N4.5 billion to 31 teaching hospitals and medical centres as hazard and inducement allowances.
Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, broke the news while addressing journalists after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, on Friday.
This development is coming amid the strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD).
Resident doctors embarked on a nationwide strike on Monday after the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum they issued to the federal government.
The doctors are demanding payment of hazard allowance, group life insurance, payment of minimum wage and provision of adequate personal protective equipment for all health workers.
Ngige said the funds cover hazard and inducement allowance arrears for the month of April and May.
“Just this morning, before we went to see Mr President, the ministry of finance reported that as of this morning, 3am; they have paid the allowances for hazard and inducement to 31 teaching and federal medical centres and specialist hospitals of the federal government service and they have expended close to N4.5 billion in the payment because, we are paying them the arrears of April and May. The payment for June will also be done immediately these ones are sorted out,” he said.
“Again, it’s important to report to you that in consonance with what he’s saying, we have arranged a meeting for them to speak to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum because you don’t mix apples and oranges.
“The issue of health is on the concurrent list, so the federal government will do its own and the state government will be expected to do their own. Some of their grievances border on what they feel the state governments have not done.”
Also speaking with journalists at the presidential villa, Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, expressed optimism that the strike would end soon.
He said the president is not happy with the ongoing strike, but added that the demands of the doctors will be met soon.
“We hope that there is a solution in sight; what we have done is to brief the president of the country, who as we all know has the final responsibility for everything that goes on in government. Those of us who are ministers administer our ministries and have to report to him periodically,” he said.
“In this particular case, it has been important to report to him how things have been because of the strike action of resident doctors. We have to report to him the implications and the possible consequences of such a strike action.
“He listened to us carefully, of course he is not happy that it has come this way and we all hope that it would be resolved after all the demands that were made have been resolved.
“The minister of labour have listed those demands and how all of them have been fulfilled except those of them which are not within our ambit.” (TheCable)