‘Abia owes resident doctors 20 months’ salary areas, blames it on dwindling resources’ 

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Angela Onwuzoo 

The National Association of Resident Doctors says the Abia State Government owes its members 20 months’ salary arrears, appealing to well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to do the needful.

According to NARD, Ikpeazu has continued to blame his inability to pay the resident doctors on dwindling resources.

When contacted by our correspondent to react to NARD’s claim, Abia State Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi-Kalu, said the state government is working to prioritise the payment of the salaries of the resident doctors while urging them to resume work.

However, decrying the attitude of the Abia State government, the NARD said Imo, Ondo, Ekiti, and Kaduna state governments also owed its members’ salary arrears of six, six, four and three months respectively.

Chairman, NARD Committee on State Tertiary Health Institutions, Dr. Daniel Isoje disclosed this in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, lamenting that all efforts to reach out to most of these state governments have not yielded the desired results. 

Isoje said poor welfare conditions in state tertiary health institutions had led to an unstable workforce thereby complicating the already weakened health care system in Nigeria. 

He stated that the health care workers who had sacrificially remained in the state health institutions deserve improvement in their working conditions.

Isoje said, “Following the suspension of the strike action in April 2021, we had continued to engage the various state governments for a positive change but no favourable response in most states up till now, rather the conditions are worsening.

“For instance, our members in Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Imo State University Teaching Hospital, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna State and Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital are being owed 20, six, six, three and four months respectively. 

“Our members in Abia State are being owed salary arrears of -December 2019; January -June 2020; September to December 2020 and July- August 2021. Effectively, they are being owed 20 months as we speak.

“We are also aware of the backlog of salary arrears owed our members in Ekiti and Oyo states from far back 2018.

“Only Delta State has paid the Medical Residency Training Fund. We commend the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.”

Isoje also said it is pertinent to call the attention of the general public to the fact that except for Delta, Bayelsa, Kebbi, Gombe, Enugu, Ogun and Oyo states, all the other states are yet to implement the new minimum wage for their members.

This, he said is despite the fact that they are all faced with the same economic realities of today.

Most of the states according to him, are still on the 2014 Consolidated Medical Salary Structure while a few others, like Imo and Abia states, have refused to even pay the outdated 2011 and 2009 CONMESS they have “stagnated our members on respectively”

“We are also aware of the disparity in salary structure amongst our members in the employ of Kaduna State.

“Only the Nassarawa State Government paid our members the complete amount approved for the COVID 19 inducement hazard allowance as done for our colleagues in the Federal Institutions. 

“However, it is worthy of note that the Benue, Delta, Enugu, Oyo, Ogun and Ondo state governments paid part of the COVID-19 inducement hazard allowance to our members,” he said.

He also noted that the central placement of house officers is yet to be extended to the state tertiary health institutions.

Giving further insight into the situation in Abia State, the chairman said he led a delegation of NARD to meet with Governor Ikpeazu on April 8, 2021. 

“He promised to pay salaries regularly starting from April salary and that he will offset the arrears as soon as his finances improve.

“Also on July 30th, 2021, the NARD President led us to meet with him where he promised to pay three months arrears the following week. He has only pad one month since then. He has continued to blame his inability to pay on dwindling resources,” he said.

 For the interest of industrial harmony in the health sector, NARD appealed to the Federal Government and all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the various state governments to address the above-listed issues as a matter of urgency.

He pleaded, “We appeal to all and sundry to prevail on the governors of Abia, Imo, Ondo, and Kaduna states to relieve our members from the beggarly posture they have been placed due to the prolonged salary arrears being owed them.

“We call on all state governments yet to domesticate the Medical Residency Training Act 2017 as passed, to do so immediately as it is an Act of the Federal Government which should be complied with.

“While commending the state governors of Delta, Lagos and Benue for the adoption of the MRTA and subsequent approval of its funding, we request that the appropriate ministries/authorities in those states ensure speedy release of the approved amount without further delay”.

NARD had on August 2 began a nationwide industrial action over unpaid salaries, benefits to families of members that lost their lives to COVID-19 pandemic and hazard allowances, improved conditions, and failure to domesticate Medical Residency Training Act 2017 in states, among others.

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