Striking doctors on N5,000 hazard allowance but senators get N1.2m for newspapers

Did you know? A Nigerian doctor gets N5,000 as monthly hazard allowance while senators are paid 248 times higher (N1.24 million) to buy newspapers monthly. Advertisement

On April 1, members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on an indefinite strike to protest their poor remuneration and conditions of service, just five months after their last strike in September.

When the fresh strike was first announced, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, president of the association, accused the federal government of failing to meet their demands, most of which were contained in an earlier agreement.

He had said the doctors are demanding: “Immediate payment of all salaries owed to all house officers including March salaries (regardless of quota system) before the end of business on the 31st of March 2021; immediate payment of all salary arrears including March salaries for our members in all Federal (GIFMIS platform) and State Tertiary Health Institutions; upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50 percent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers, as well as payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance especially in State owned-tertiary institutions

The industrial action has grounded activities in some hospitals across the country, at a time when Nigeria is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 2,000 people out of the 163,000 infected.

WHAT CAN N5,000 ALLOWANCE DO FOR HEALTH WORKERS?

Okhuaihesuyi confirmed to TheCable that for all the risks they face fighting COVID-19, all the doctors get as hazard allowance is N5,000 ($13 at the current official exchange rate).

But what really can that do for a medical doctor?

Agwu Nnanna, the immediate past president of NARD at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Lokoja, told TheCable that the money is next to nothing, when the actual risks the doctors face are considered.

“That you get infected today, maybe you get infected with hepatitis, N5,000 cannot even help you buy a drug that you need to take care of yourself and protect yourself. If you put this in context with the economic realities of the country, with how things are, you find out that even the little salaries cannot take care of your needs,” he said.

In direct contrast, each senator gets as much as N13.5 million as running cost covering all their allowances, while a member of the house of representatives get N8.5 million for same.

This is notwithstanding that 83 million Nigerians are living in poverty, while the country’s unemployment rate hit a new record high at 33.3 percent in fourth quarter of 2020.

HOW SINCERE IS THE GOVERNMENT IN ADDRESSING THE DOCTORS’ DEMANDS?

The doctors’ grievance is quite understandable. Despite being in the frontline of Nigeria’s response to the pandemic, things appear as though they are being taken for granted.

In an interview with TheCable, Okhuaihesuyi said the doctors are angry because despite several promises from the government to meet their demands, there has been no effort to fulfil them.

Read the full story in The Cable

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