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FG denies owing doctors, vows to stop borrowing to pay salaries

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Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige PHOTO:Twitter


Against widespread reports, the Federal Government, yesterday, maintained that it was not owing the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) or any health worker nationwide.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who stated this during a meeting with the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) in Abuja, explained: “NARD goes about telling Nigerians that government is owing them salaries and is not taking the problems in the health sector serious.  But this is not true. It is incorrect. No doctor, nurse, pharmacist or any other health worker, including the driver, is owed a 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 and were therefore 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.”

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THIS comes as the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and Planning, Clement Agba, vowed that the current administration will no longer borrow to pay salaries.

He bemoaned the expanding budgetary expenditure of government, even as revenue continues to dwindle.
  Agba added that government was committed to workers’ welfare but would not continue borrowing to offset emoluments. 
 
Speaking further, Ngige referred to the presidential waiver for employment into the critical health and defence ministries in view of the embargo on employment, assuring that doctors illegally recruited would have their service regularised in due course.  

He, however, admitted that the only money government owed a few doctors and others was the 2020 COVID-19 allowance, besides arrears of the national minimum wage consequential adjustments and the all-comprising skipping allowance.

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 the sum of N37.5 billion for.”
 
In his remarks, Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, said it was such a wrong time to go on strike, noting that despite financial constraints, government was committed to payment of salaries of doctors and health workers.  
 
JOHESU President, Josiah Biobelemonye, submitted that the union was “the patient dog of the health sector,” urging swift tackling of the challenges facing his members to avoid strikes.

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Chris NgigeJOHESUNARD
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