- Investigates deplorable condition of State House clinic
James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives thursday passed a resolution urging President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige, to immediately commence the process of negotiating an upward review of the current minimum wage rates.
It further mandated its Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity to ensure implementation of the resolution.
Also, the House mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to investigate the deplorable condition of the State House Clinic and the alleged deductions from the salaries and allowances of the medical staff and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.
The lawmakers resolve followed a motion moved by Hon. Peter Ohiozojeh Akpatason on the need to hearken to calls for review of the national minimum wage figures to avert the looming nationwide strike action.
In his lead debate, Akpatason said there exists a tripartite agreement between the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the National Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the federal government to set up a joint review team to study and recommend an appropriate rate to the government.
But, according to him, despite the labour unions having submitted names of their nominees and making several requests for commencement of the review process, the government has yet to respond positively to the requests.
He added: “Payments of outstanding debts to contractors and arrears of salaries and pensions to workers contributed to the reflation of the economy, and in turn partly contributed to the eventual exit of the economy from recession, and as such, an upward adjustment of the rate of the minimum wage will have similar positive effect on the nation’s economy”
He expressed concern that a combination of high inflation and weak naira exchange value had eroded the purchasing power of fixed income earners in the country who happen to be the bread winners to millions of jobless and aged dependants.
He cautioned that “any nationwide strike action embarked upon by workers at this time is capable of rolling back recent economic gains, thereby returning the nation’s fragile economy into recession that will further exacerbate the suffering of the masses.”
Hon. Beni Lar (PDP, Plateau) said an upward review of the minimum wage was long overdue and recommended a minimum of N30,000 in view of current inflation rate.
On his part, Hon. Nasir Ali Ahmed said fighting corruption ought to begin with improved welfare for workers.
He proposed N50,000 as the new minimum wage.
Meanwhile, the motion on the need to investigate the deplorable condition of the state house clinic and the alleged deductions from the salaries and allowances of the medical staff was sponsored by Hon. Henry Archibong.
The House commended the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari for her exemplary show of patriotism and selflessness in exposing the alleged shortcomings at the clinic.
Mrs. Buhari had complained publicly during a stakeholder’s meeting on Reproductive, Maternal, Nutrition, Child Advocacy and Health and Nutrition (RMNCAHN) at the State House of her inability to access health care needs at the clinic when she took ill recently, but was rather advised by the health providers to fly out of country for treatment.
Archibong said her refusal to heed the advice of the health providers and insisting on obtaining medical care in Nigeria saved the country millions of dollars in foreign exchange and was also an act of patriotism and selflessness worthy of commendation.
He, noted that the State House Clinic was established to take care of the health needs of the President, the Vice-President, their family members as well as members of staff of the Presidential Villa, Abuja; and had been receiving annual budgetary allocations to procure equipment that will enable it function optimally over the years.
He said in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Appropriation Acts, the clinic was allocated the sums of 3.94 billion, 3.87 billion and 3.2 billion respectively, for upgrading and provision of necessary drugs and equipment.
He added that in spite of the huge budgetary allocations, the clinic lacks necessary facilities such as syringes, drugs and equipment needed for saving lives;
He said medical doctors working at the clinic have expressed concern over alleged illegal deductions from their salaries and allowances by the management since April 2017, without any official communication for the action.