President, Association of Resident Doctors, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja chapter, Dr. Itohan Oaku, says the Lagos State Government is yet to pay doctors COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances.
Oaku explained that in general, doctors receive N5,000 monthly hazard allowance, but that the allowance is different from the COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances promised by the government.
“Before we went on strike in May, what the Lagos State Government did was to add N20,000 to the N5,000 we were receiving as monthly hazard allowance. “The government paid for April and June, but it didn’t pay for May.
“The COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances agreed to by the Federal Government have not been paid to doctors in Lagos State,” Oaku said.
She spoke against the background of its national body, Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, alleging that Lagos had started paying COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances to doctors in the state.
The Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Bilqis Mohammed, had listed states that had started paying the COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances as Lagos, Ogun, Nasarawa and Enugu.
However, Dr. Oaku said, “Lagos is not paying COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances.
“Lagos State Government, for the months of April and June only, paid an additional N20,000 (400 percent) hazard and inducement allowances to its doctors.
“The Federal Ministry of Health has been responsible for doctors working in the isolation centres. Some sort of allowance is being paid these doctors, which we are not privy to,” Oaku said.
She added that the Ministry of Establishments,Training and Pensions had informed LASUTH Association of Resident Doctors that a committee would look into the issue, but the association was yet to get a feedback.
“During the last meeting held between LASUTH-ARD and the Ministry of Establishment, Training and Pensions on Tuesday, 21st July, 2020, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Abiodun Bamgboye, had informed us that a committee to look into the COVID-19 inducement allowance was in place and that he was overseeing it, promising that the matter will be sorted out.
“We are yet to get any feedback from him.
“The fact is, we have been patient with the government. We have recently extended the suspended strike by another three weeks, to give room for implementation of our demands.
“Lagos State is yet to pay COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances,” she insisted.
Also, Secretary of the Medical Guild, Dr. Ismail Ajibowo, said, “It is not true that Lagos State Government is paying COVID-19 hazard allowance. It is not true at all. It is still the same situation before the strike.”
Recall that the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnibe Mamora, had, on April 27 at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the Federal Government had approved special incentives which included hazard allowance, insurance and tax rebates for health workers.
Mamora had said, “The Federal Government agreed to shelve the payment of the existing N5,000 [monthly] hazard allowance, which had been in existence since 1991.
“In its place, a special COVlD-19 hazard and inducement allowance of 50 per cent of the consolidated basic salary is to be paid to all health workers in all the Federal Government teaching hospitals and federal medical centres and their designated COVlD-19 centres and primary health care centres to last for the first three months in the first instance.
“Forty per cent of consolidated basic salary would be paid as special COVlD-19 hazard and inducement allowance to health workers at special non-public hospitals and clinics in the federal ministries, departments and agencies for same three months’ period.”
Recall that, earlier in July, Chairman of Medical Guild, Dr. Oluwajimi Sodipo, had said that the Lagos State government promised to employ more health workers, including medical doctors.
In a statement on July 14, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had, among other measures, given approval for Health Service Commission to employ over 760 health workers, of which at least 400 are doctors.
“However, due to the pandemic, we have had to adjust the recruitment procedure, but the process is ongoing and we are expecting to conclude the first batch of recruitment within a month from now,” Omotosho had said.
According to Sodipo, the Congress of the Guild had, on June 27, extended the two-week ultimatum to the state government, after expiration of its initial 21-day ultimatum to resolve the issues.
Sodipo said some of the unresolved demands are the wage disparity between the Federal and the Lagos State doctors.
According to Sodipo, other demands include: “That the issue of COVID-19 hazard allowances and inducement allowances Memorandum of Understanding approved by the Federal Government to her doctors has not been approved by the state government to her doctors.
“That doctors working in COVID-19 isolation centres are still being owed two-month salaries. They are also being unceremoniously disengaged without recourse to their welfare.”
Omotosho in his mid-July response had said that, “We are currently rotating our health workers who are engaged in providing care at the isolation facilities. They are not being dismissed.
“Many issues have already been resolved, while unresolved issues are still being deliberated upon.”
However, while Sodipo stated that some of the unresolved demands included the wage disparity between the Federal and the Lagos State doctors, as well as the issue of COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances, Omotosho was not categorical with what “unresolved issues” are.
Source: Punch Healthwise