By Olawale Ajimotokan
The federal government has said that a total of 55,031 health workers in 35 hospitals and medical centres designated for COVID-19 have been paid special hazard allowances totalling N4,642,485,146.00 .
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this at a press conference he addressed in Abuja yesterday shortly before the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) suspended its strike, which he described as inexplicable.
Mohammed was joined at the press conference by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.
He said the government had also paid N9 billion as premium for Group Life Insurance to all health workers.
He said the payment of COVID-19 special hazard inducement allowances was based on four templates: 50 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary to all workers in COVID-19 designated hospitals and centres; 40 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary to health workers in non-COVID-19 designated centres and hospitals; 10 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary to non-health professionals engaged in those centres; and 20 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary special allowance to all health workers directly managing COVID-19 patients in Treatment and Isolation Centres.
He explained that other matters relating to non-payment of arrears dating as far back as 2014 or salaries owed by state governments were either in court or beyond the power of the Federal Ministry of Health to resolve.
He said, “despite the payment of the hazard allowance and the group life insurance, the provision of PPE as well as addressing other issues raised by the resident doctors, they still opted to proceed on strike.
“This is happening at a time the nation is battling a pandemic of immense proportions.
“This inexplicable strike is a dangerous setback for the nation’s efforts at tackling the pandemic.”