Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige has said that he didn’t know that doctors within the country were still being paid N5000 hazard allowance until the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recounting how he and two others wrote the circular that brought in payment of hazard allowance to medical doctors in 1991 during an interview on NTA on Wednesday April 8, Ngige said the last time the hazard allowance was reviewed for all medical personnel was in 2009.
He also accused the Nigerian Medical Association of abdicating its responsiblity and not making any move to invite that allowance to be reviewed and adjusted.
“The hazard allowance for medical doctors came on board in 1991 under circular 1 of 1991. there have been three folks that wrote that circular. I used to be there as deputy director.
“The director constituted us into a committee on this because the minister then was expecting this document.
“That was when your hazard came and since then the opposite medical persons agitated to urge into that N5,000 — nurses, midwives, radiologist — people started coming into that N5,000 from that 1991, implementation started in 1992.
“The last group of individuals that came in i feel was in 2009. That was when it had been reviewed for everyone to possess N5,000.
“NMA because they’re the parent body abdicated their responsibilities and ran away because people have inherited N5,000. They didn’t make any move now to invite that allowance to be reviewed and adjusted. they’re now sharing it with people.
“I didn’t even realize it was still N5,000 until we started COVID and once I mentioned it within the economic sustainability committee, both the minister of finance and therefore the vice-president said N,5000 for somebody working during a health sector? it’s criminal. The vice-president may be a lawyer, minister of finance is an accountant.
“They told me: you’ve got to try to do something. Please we leave it to you. I convened the meeting immediately in my house under COVID and that we gave them a special COVID hazard allowance that was up to 1,000 percent of N5,000.
“Some people went home for the three months with N600,000, that’s N200,000 a month, some N300,000. My professor friend and classmate told me it had been a hazard that protected him through ASUU strike, that he got N350,000 monthly.
“So government paid N32 billion for 3 months. What was within the COVID allow it had been N20 billion. We started paying and that we couldn’t go round, and that i had to form a special case, fought within the economic sustainability committee because there’s no money and minister of finance had to travel outside the COVID budget of N500 billion to urge another N12 billion for the payment. that’s N32 billion.”