The federal government has disclosed that no doctor or any worker in the health sector is currently owed salaries.
The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, made the disclosure on Tuesday at the meeting of the presidential committee on salaries, with the leadership of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) in Abuja.
Ngige said the clarification became necessary to address the position of the members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), who are currently on strike over alleged salary irregularities.
According to him, “NARD goes about telling Nigerians that government is owing them salaries, and as well not taking the problems in the health sector seriously. But this is not true. It is incorrect,” he said.
“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 fails 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 were 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.”
Citing the presidential waiver for employment into the critical health and defence ministries in view of the general embargo on employment, the minister gave the assurance that doctors “illegally recruited” would have their appointments regularised in due course.
He, however, said the federal government owes some doctors and other workers 2020 COVID allowances, as well as arrears relating to the adjustment of the national minimum wage and skipping allowance, adding that work is in progress to clear the arrears.
He blamed the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and JOHESU for delaying the payment of the COVID allowance, following the alleged refusal of both organisations to come to an agreement.
“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,” he said.
“They brought in segregation and couldn’t agree with JOHESU and both now want separate negotiations. Why then blame government and make it an issue to strike for?”