Hazard Allowance: Buhari will pay if there’s money, says Ngige

President Muhammadu Buhari will pay Nigerian health workers’ new hazard allowance if there is enough money in the federal government’s coffers, Labour minister Chris Ngige tells aggrieved healthcare professionals.

“If we do so, it is to your own advantage because it has to be captured in the 2022 budget. The government will also look at its purse, and if there is money, the president will sign, and it will be a win-win situation for all of us,” said Mr Ngige. “Last week, we discussed with JOHESU. We had a fruitful discussion. It is in that spirit that I am asking you that this should be fruitful so that we can rest the issue of paying the N5,000 hazard allowance.”

The federal government and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) are expected to continue their negotiations next week on the proposed new hazard allowance for doctors working in government-owned hospitals.

Mr Ngige stated this during a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Salaries with the leadership of NMA and its affiliates on the review of the hazard allowance.

This was announced in a statement by the labour ministry’s spokesman Charles Akpan on Wednesday.

The minister recalled that the discussion had begun with all health workers since March until the NMA disagreed on fundamental principles of negotiation with the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).

JOHESU President, Biobelemoye Josiah
He noted that the president of the NMA requested that the discussion should be compartmentalised, allowed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The minister appealed to the NMA and JOHESU to resolve the crisis before the end of September.He argued that in 2020, the government took the initiative to provide special COVID-19 allowances to health workers.

“It was by our own volition that we invited both sides to the meeting where we handed over special COVID allowances to medical, dental workers, and other allied health workers, and we did it seamlessly,” stated the minister. “I don’t know whether it was because of the fear of COVID that you worked together. Today, the divide is there. Having read the altercation between you and JOHESU, which is in the media, we can’t believe that both of you are managing one patient.”

He appealed to NMA and JOHESU to “unite and see how we can navigate this thing.”

“This is the COVID-19 period. Stop this dichotomy between you and JOHESU,” Mr Ngige urged the healthcare professionals. “Both of you are managing one patient. It is teamwork. Nobody can do it alone.”

(NAN)

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