As the medical doctors’ strike further cripples Nigeria’s health system, the Federal Government has debunked poor welfare allegations raised by the striking workers, disclosing that over N32 billion was paid to the medical doctors and other healthcare personnel during the lockdown as COVID-19 hazard allowance.
It added that some of the striking doctors received over N500, 000 within the three months lockdown imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari to flatten the virus curve across the country.
Disclosing the statistics on Friday during an interview on a popular television programme, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said that the government released the money in tranches to the workers to ensure that the healthcare sector remains functional.
Ngige explained that the funds were released by the apex government as hazard allowance for three months after the doctors and medical staff claimed that 16 of their members died after contracting coronavirus across the country.
According to him, the government has spent N32 billion to pay coronavirus hazard allowance during the three months lockdown. And the money was released in two tranches, first the government released N20 billion and later gave out N12 billion. And with the funds released, some doctors went home with close to half a million naira, as covid allowance.
The minister, meanwhile, disclosed that the government was about approving another hazard allowance payment regime for the doctors and medical staff as part of the new welfare package for them
He said: “The new hazard allowance will be done in the next five weeks. I have told the striking doctors about it. Infect, it is in the memorandum of understanding that we signed before now.
“As a mark of assurance, immediately after the Easter break, I will convene a meeting that will include representatives from the Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission, Ministry of Health, Office of Head of Service, and we would look at it the hazard allowance issue holistically with a view to finding a lasting solution to the issues raised by the doctors”.