Edo promises payment as COVID-19 frontline employees kick over entitlements
The Edo government has promised to pay the frontline workers temporarily engaged in screening and testing for COVID-19 in the state their outstanding allowances upon conclusion of work on their payroll.
The assurances followed yesterday’s peaceful protest in Benin City by about 200 ad hoc health workers, under the auspices of Edo State COVID-19 Mobile Screening Task Force, over their alleged dismissal and non-payment of two-month entitlements.
But the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, in a statement, said the taskforce was demobilised after the state exceeded its target to screen and test over 500,000 persons.
“The screening exercise was massive and crosscutting. The officials were inundated with lists of persons, who were said to have participated in the exercise. So, we are carefully vetting the lists before making the final payment. The outstanding allowances would be paid before the end of the week,” he explained.
However, the protesters, who marched on major streets of the ancient city for several hours, later proceeded to the Hospital Management Board and the Edo State House of Assembly to register their grievances.
The marchers comprised medical doctors and other health professionals, who had gone round the state to take random samples of residents in the course of their duty.
One of the data collectors, Emmanuel Ojie, said they had worked for over two months “without being appreciated.
“We are owed May and June. We only reported to our duty post today (yesterday) to discover that we have been relieved of our jobs without being paid. We have no fewer than 26 groups, consisting of eight persons per group,” he alleged.
Another, Patience Efe, deplored their mode of disengagement by the task force’s Incident Manager, Dr. Andrew Obi.
Efforts to speak with the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, were futile, as he did not pick the several calls placed to his mobile phone.