Federal Govt Approves Additional N8.9bn For June COVID-19 Hazard Allowance

 

 

An additional N8.9 billion has been approved by the Federal Government to pay up a large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all Health Workers across the nation.

This was revealed by Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the end of the meeting between the Federal Government and the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Ngige stated that the implementation of the payment of the Special Hazard and Inducement Allowance has been concluded, stressing that this has been cash-backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payments to start with effect from September 9.

According to him, this will bring the total disbursement to about N288 billion.

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On Wednesday, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Federal Government reached an agreement in a bid to end the ongoing strike by health workers.

At the meeting that lasted almost the entire day, the association said it will consult its executive council within the next 24 hours, with a view to calling off the strike by Thursday.

Both parties had been locked in negotiations to resolve issues that led to the declaration of a nationwide strike on Monday.

Some of the issues revolved around the provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers, payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries, Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State, immediate review of the Hazard Allowance of Health Care Workers and payment of the Covid-19 Inducement Allowance.

But the Federal Government noted that eight of the demands made by NARD had been addressed and the remaining two were in different stages of being resolved.

After extensive deliberations, however, both parties reached several agreements.

They agreed that the Hospitals and Isolation Centres now have sufficient Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

They also agreed that the Federal Government had paid the total sum of Nine Billion Three Hundred Million Naira (N9.3billion) to Insurance Companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for health workers.

On the implementation of the payment of the special hazard/inducement allowance, the doctors said they were satisfied that the N20 billion already appropriated in the 2020 COVID-19 Budget has been exhausted to N19 billion and therefore, praised the Federal Government and the President for approving an additional (N8,901,231,773.55) to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers.

Among several other agreements, it was also agreed upon that nobody will be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action.

See the full list of deliberations below.

UNDERSTANDING REACHED AT THE END OF THE MEETING BETWEEN THE LEADERSHIP OF THE NIGERIAN ASSOCIATION OF RESIDENT DOCTORS (NARD) AND FEDERAL MINISTRIES OF HEALTH, FINANCE, BUDGET AND NATIONAL PLANNING, AND NATIONAL SALARIES, INCOME AND WAGES COMMISSION (NSIWC) AT THE INSTANCE OF THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT ON SEPTEMBER 9, 202O.

On September 7, 2020, the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a total and an indefinite strike in all Federal and State hospitals in Nigeria over the following demands:
i. The provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers and payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries.
ii. Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State.
iii. Immediate review of the Hazard Allowance of Health Care Workers and payment of the Covid-19 Inducement Allowance as agreed during the stakeholders’ meeting.
iv. Immediate release of funds for Medical Residency Training for 2020 as captured in the revised Appropriation Bill.
v. Payment of all owed arrears of the Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage to her members, and implementation of such in States Tertiary Health Institutions.

In line with the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act, CAP T.8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment held a conciliation meeting with the leadership of NARD and relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to address the demands and resolve the trade dispute.

The meeting noted that the Federal Government had earlier addressed most of the original eight (8) demands made by NARD and the remaining two (2) were in different stages of being resolved.

After extensive deliberations, the following understandings were reached on each of the demands:

1) Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
NARD agreed that the Hospitals and Isolation Centres now have sufficient PPE

2) The provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers and payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries:

The meeting noted that the Federal Government had paid the total sum of Nine Billion Three Hundred Million Naira (N9B,3) to Insurance Companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for Health Workers.

Enrollment was by the submission of nominal rolls by the various Health Institutions which NARD had been mandated at a previous meeting to accomplish. The meeting further noted that claims had to be made before the Insurance benefits could be realised.

It was decided that NARD should submit copies of claims already made to the Insurance Companies through the Hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation that would ensure that the Insurance Companies pay the claims. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment should be copied.

3) Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State Hospitals
Noting that the 2020 Appropriation Act was revised due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Four Billion Naira (N4B) appropriated for Residency Training under a wrong heading for Medical Residency Training is to be vired before expenditure. The process of amendment is therefore ongoing and is expected that this process and cash backing will be through in two (2) weeks.

4) Payment of outstanding 2014, 2015, and 2016 arrears:
The meeting recalled that it had been agreed that the issue would be further discussed post Covid-19. Therefore, no agreement was breached.

5) Implementation of the Payment of the Special Hazard/Inducement Allowance

Meeting was satisfied that the N20B already appropriated in 2020 Covid-19 Budget has been exhausted to N19B and praised the Federal Government and Mr. President for approving additional N8,901,231,773.55 to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 Covid-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers. This has been cash backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payments to start with effect from today September 9, 2020. This would bring the total disbursement to about N28B.

6) Permanent New Rate Of Hazard Allowance:

Discussions for review of a Permanent Hazard Allowance for all Health Workers will commence as soon as possible after consultations by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment with all Stakeholders in the Health Sector. Based on the principles of ability to pay, this will cover all Health Workers in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Meeting will be convened as soon as possible in that regard.

7) Payment of all owed arrears of the Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage to her members, and implementation of such in States Tertiary Health Institutions:

It was noted that those affected were the Youth Corp Members and House Officers who are regarded as ad hoc staff. For State Hospitals, the Federal Government can only be persuasive. It was recalled that NARD had been assigned the responsibility to submit a list from the defaulting hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

8) Domestication of the Residency Training Act by State Governments:

Recognizing the Autonomy of States within the Federation, the meeting agreed that the issue would be tabled at the National Economic Council and National Council of Health to persuade the States to domesticate the Act.

9) Health Workers in the Medical Centers attached to Universities:

The meeting agreed that these workers had been tied with the ongoing strike by ASUU and negotiations concerning them would be on a different platform involving Federal Ministry of Education.

In view of these Understandings, NARD will consult with her Executive Council within the next 24hrs with a view to calling off the strike by tomorrow, September 10, 2020.

Nobody will be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action

……………………………….. ………………………………
Dr. Sokomba Aliyu Dr. Bilqis Muhammad
President, NARD Sec. Gen., NARD

………………………………… ………………………………….
Dr. Ekpe Philips Uche Ahmed Idris , FCNA
Secretary General, NMA Accountant General of the Federation

…………………………………………….. …………………………………
A. M. Abdullahi Dr. Yerima P. Tarfa
PS, Health PS, Labour & Employment

………………………………. …………………………
Sen. (Dr.) A. O. Mamora Barr. Festus Keyamo, SAN
HMS, Health HMS, Labour & Employment
………………………………………..
Senator (Dr,) Chris Nwabueze Ngige, OON
Honourable Minister, Labour & Employment

VIDEO: Doctors Are Free To Leave Nigeria Because We Have Surplus, I’m Not Worried – Ngige

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige has said that he is not bothered about the decision of medical doctors who choose to leave Nigeria to practice outside the country.

Ngige who was a guest on Channels TV Sunrise Daily said the practice is not alien to Nigeria, because he was taught by Indians in secondary school.

“I’m Not Worried, We Have Surplus (Doctors), if we have a surplus, we export. I was taught Biology and Chemistry by Indian teachers in my secondary school days.

“They are surplus in their country. We have a surplus in the medical profession in our country. I can tell you this. It is my area, we have excess. We have enough, more than enough, quote me.”

Ngige, when asked if nothing was wrong, owing to his position as a qualified medical doctor, said there was nothing wrong in their choice to practise overseas, at the detriment of Nigeria’s health sector.

“There is nothing wrong, they go out to sharpen their skills, earn money and send them back home here. Yes, we have foreign exchange earnings from them, not from oil.”

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The minister said the move does not amount to brain drain when asked.

“Those guys go there, they are better trained because of the facilities they have there. Eventually, I know a couple of them who practise abroad but set up medical centres back home. They have CAT scan, MRI scan which even the government hospitals cannot maintain. So, I don’t see any loss.

“Brain drain will only be inimical when for instance neurosurgeons travel and we don’t have neurosurgeons here.”

Osinbajo: Patronise ‘Made-In-Nigeria’ Goods To Drive Economy

Yemi Osinbajo, Made-In-Nigeria, Economy, Chris Ngige, Kayode FayemiActing President Yemi Osinbajo has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s determination to drive the Nigerian economy with locally manufactured products.

Professor Osinbajo made the pledge at the 2017 National Productivity Day in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

According to him, the current economic realities indicate that continued dependence on importation is not sustainable.

He, however, called for the patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods.

“Permit me to make a comment on made-in-Nigeria initiative, which has also been recognised here.

“As the president said in his 2017 budget speech, we must grow what we eat and we must use what we make; we must patronise made-in-Nigeria products to encourage local production,” Professor Osinbajo said.

Bedrock Of Every Economy

In his opening remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stressed the importance of the occasion.

“We are here today to celebrate and reward excellence in service by recognising individuals and organisations that have made significant contributions to the growth and development of the nation.

“The National Productivity Day is therefore a day we set aside to demonstrate that high productivity is the bedrock of every economy.

“It is time to reflect on ways of energising all sectors of the economy towards our goal of institutionalising productivity consciousness and excellence in service,” the minister said.

Celebrating Criminal Brigands

The Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on his part highlighted the importance of a reward system in encouraging local entrepreneurship.

“Society can only develop and be productive when our reward systems are robust and effective.

“Good must be rewarded and evil must be punished; government can however, not do this alone.

“It is a task we must all tackle collectively right from the family unit to our community to the nation at large.

“We can only make progress and be productive when we stop celebrating criminal brigands and start recognising unsung heroes in our society,” the minister said.

The National Productivity Day has been set aside by the Federal Government to promote local production of goods and services, as well as reward indigenous entrepreneurs who are contributing to the growth of the economy.

At the 2017 edition, 15 individuals and five organisations were rewarded by the government for their contributions to Nigeria’s economy.

NUPENG Suspends Three Days Warning Strike

NUPENG Declares 3-Day Warning StrikeThe leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has suspended the three day warning strike it declared a day ago.

The union called off the strike after a meeting with some government officials and representatives of oil companies held in Abuja.

At the meeting, disagreement between the union and oil companies over staff welfare was discussed.

NUPENG had declared a three-day warning strike to press for the implementation of the agreement reached with the oil companies on staff welfare, which the Federal Government mediated in 2016.

Both the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the president of the union, Mr Igwe Achese, told reporters that a timeline of two weeks had been set to resolve some of the issues that led to the strike action.

Ngige Challenges NSITF On Workers’ Social Security

Chris Ngige, Social Security, Workers
, NSITFThe Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has appealed to the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to provide social security coverage for workers in the public and organised private sector.

The Minister noted that the agency has failed to take companies to court and also claim compensation for workers whose social securities were threatened by their employers.

He urged the agency’s legal department to brace up to the task and take more companies that fail to provide social security for their workers to court by 2017.

The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund is an agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour.

Labour Union Asks Financial Institutions To Save Nigeria’s Economy

Nigeria's GDP Falls 2.24% In 3rd Quarter of 2016The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has appealed to operators of financial institutions across Nigeria to rid the sector of corrupt practices to save the economy that is in recession.

The president of the union, Mr Bobboi Kaigama, made the appeal on Friday at a conference of members of the union from the financial institutions held in Abuja.

According to him, financial corruption in the banking and insurance sector of the economy will further worsen Nigeria’s economic situation if operators refuse to act.

“In a country where we are looking at creating more jobs, we should not lay off the existing ones that are in their job places.

“Just like the judiciary is trying to clean itself, every sector of the economy of this country must clean itself of corruption, including the banking and insurance sector,” Mr Kaigama stressed.

At the meeting were a representative of the Minister of Labour and Employment and that of the Central Bank Governor.

They appealed to employers of labour in the financial sector, to promote policies that would contribute to quick economic recovery.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Clement Ilo, pointed out that the labour union had enjoyed relative peace over the years, saying that it had in no small measure contributed in sustaining industrial peace and harmony in the banking sector.

“I therefore wish to remind all of you of the significance of the understanding reached between the unions and employers which was midwifed by my ministry and the utmost need to sustain and promote the path which would no doubt contribute to economic recovery,” he said.

On his part, the Director of Financial Policy Regulation with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Franckline Ahonkhai, however, stressed the need for the labour union to prevail on their members to enhance productivity.

“As we intensify efforts to grow the country’s economy, labour unions should be in the forefront, rallying their members to enhance labour productivity.

“I urge you therefore to use this platform to articulate additional strategic contributions which you must make towards growing the economy of our dear country,” he highlighted.

Since the National Bureau of Statistics’ second quarter report showed that Nigeria’s economy has slipped into recession in August, there have been several conferences to discuss how to reflate the economy.

The second quarter report of the agency had had showed a consecutive contraction of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product from the 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, to 2.06 per cent in the second quarter.

Analysts say deliberate policies by the government and financial regulators are urgently needed to reflate the economy.

PENGASSAN, NUPENG Suspend Strike

NUPENG, Rivers StateThe Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have suspended their strike after a meeting with the Federal Government on Wednesday.

The meeting which ended at 1am was attended by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, the oil unions and international companies.

They discussed issues on job security, causalisation of workers and improved welfare.

Dr Ngige appealed to the companies not to lay off workers as government is trying to make the environment more conducive for their businesses.

There had been disputes over the implementation of the 2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the federal government and the unions, the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the state under which the oil workers operate, especially the lack of power and bad roads.

The PENGASSAN had last week declared an industrial action over the dispute, while NUPENG postponed its action pending the outcome of this meeting.

 

FG Inaugurates Committee To Look Into Lingering Labour Issues

Chris Ngige, Labour Minister, NLC Strike
Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, will Chair the 16-man committee.

The Federal Government has set up a 16-man Technical Committee to look into the grievances and other labour issues arising from the recent increase in the pump price of petrol.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ingige, who is also the Chairman of the Committee told journalists at the inauguration that the committee will take decisions over the issues of a new minimum wage and palliative measures of the federal government to cushion the effects of the pump price increase.

Members of the committee are drawn from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and representatives of the federal government.

Nigerian Ministers Meet Broadcasters, Blame Economic Challenges On Corruption

BON, CorruptionThe Federal Government has blamed the poor state of the economy on corruption and the falling price of crude oil.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, expressed the view while speaking at a meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).

As the administration marks its first year in office, five federal ministers held a meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria.

The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah were part of the ministerial delegation.

Media executives listened to the ministers as they took time to explain their achievements and challenges over the past one year. The most challenging for the new administration has been the economy.

The Information Minister said that Nigeria was passing through a very a difficult time and that the road to economic prosperity would be rough. He said that if the present administration had not been elected, the country’s economy would have collapsed.

“Our economy, or whatever is left of it after years of serial mismanagement and massive corruption is in a very bad state. Throw into the mix, the huge fall in oil price and you have nothing but a disaster of an economy.

“But this government is aware that it was not elected to make excuses but to put the nation back to work,” he said.

The ministers promised that the administration would focus on tackling insecurity and fighting corruption as these are the major ways of revamping the economy.

They, however, noted that there was a backlog of issues to be sorted out, like the huge debt owed contractors, which the Power Minister explained.

“We must not allow yesterday’s misfortunes to recur again. It starts from the gradual process of failing to do simple maintenance; failing to paint or failing to clean.

“The impact of what we see today clearly didn’t start today. So if we have paid contractors, we clearly won’t have the kinds of roads that we have today.

“My meeting with contractors in Power and in Works over the last 10 days, the common thread is that they haven’t received payment for an average of three years.”

Nevertheless, the minsters reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to embarking on infrastructural development across the country.

The ministers also gave the assurance that the government would fulfil its election campaign promises to Nigerians.

NLC Will Continue To Negotiate With Government – Ayuba Wabba

NLC, Ayuba WabbaThe Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, says the NLC will continue to negotiate with the Federal Government over its opposition to the hike in the pump price of petrol.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, Mr Wabba noted that the tradition of the NLC is to continue to dialogue on issues that it is passionate about, especially the increase in electricity tariff and pump price of petrol.

The labour union, had on Sunday evening suspended an industrial action it called on Wednesday, May 18 to resist the new price of petrol.

This was after an emergency meeting of its organs – the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee, where talks were focused on the strike and the way forward.

There were reports that the suspension of the strike was one of the conditions the Federal Government had given for it to resume negotiations with the NLC but Mr Wabba reiterated that the strike was suspended due to the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians including the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu and the National Assembly.

He did not give an assurance that all matters would be resolved, but promised that the union would indeed resume negotiations with the government, adding that they would remain consistent in their demands.

“We will go there with open mind to discuss those issues. In the discussion process, we will try to advance a lot of reasons why we think that it should not be only this issue of importation; we can also look at other policy options which we are going to come to the table with,” he said.

Mr Wabba also explained the rationale behind the decision of the labour union to embark on the strike and which they would continue to press for.

“Our standpoint is clear and unambiguous, we believe that it is not sustainable and it will be at a very high cost to continue to over-rely on importation of this product that God has blessed Nigeria with.

“As far back as 2011, we had a documented written agreement with government where they requested for a full-year monitoring period within which to ensure that the issue of importing products will be addressed.

“But here we are, many years down the line we are still at the same point. So, we thought that as NLC we must continue to be consistent and that is the process that actually drove the process of engagement of the NEC and the decision that was taken.”

Mr Wabba stated that as the union resumes negotiations with the government, they would be demanding for a timeline for which the new price hike would be in place as they believe the policy is not sustainable because it is dependent on factors like the foreign exchange rate which is beyond Nigeria’s control.

“We must also agree, like we did in 2011 – documented. When do we think we can be able to move into the next phase of fixing our refineries and also addressing the issue of bunkering and sabotage going on?

“We have realised that what is going on in the oil and gas sector, where most of our facilities are vandalized is because of the fact that it is cheaper and easier and you make quick money when you import and dispose of it.

“Therefore, it is like an incentive to those people that it is cheaper and easier to import product instead of working towards (rebuilding) the refineries,” he said.

Labour Minister Welcomes Suspension Of Strike By Wabba-Led NLC

Chris Ngige, Labour Minister, NLC StrikeThe Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has described the decision of the Wabba-led faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to suspend its strike as a welcome development.

In a statement by his ministry’s spokesman, Samuel Olowookere, Senator Ngige reassured the labour union that the government was ready to continue the negotiation.

“I wish to assure them that they are fully welcome back to the negotiating table to continue from where we stopped,” he said.

The Wabba faction of the NLC suspended the industrial action called on May 18  to resist the new petrol price of 145 Naira.

The leader of the union announced the suspension on Sunday.

It came after an emergency meeting of its organs – the National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee.

At the meeting, talks were focused on the strike and the way forward.

Mr Wabba said the strike was suspended due to the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians including the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu.

 

Nigeria Workers Celebrate Safety At Workplace

Nigeria workersNigeria workers have joined the rest of the world to mark the 2016 World Day for Safety and Health at Workplace with the International Labour Organization (ILO) calling on the federal government to improve the safety of workers.

For 13 years, Nigerian workers have continued to celebrate the World Day for Safety and Health at Work Place and the theme for 2016 was “Workplace Stress; A Collective Challenge”

The country representative of the ILO in Nigeria, Mr Dennis Zulu, at an event to mark the day on Thursday, said that the domestication of the ILO’s convention 155 on occupational safety would reduce accidents in work place.

Representative of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ms Maureen Ekuazi, argued that lack of social infrastructure has added to the stress of Nigerian workers.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, gave the assurance of government’s commitment to ensure the safety of workers.

He called on employers of labour to implement stress prevention programmes in line with national safety policies.

Although there is no reliable data on occupational accidents and deaths in Nigeria, it is estimated that globally, over 270 million accidents and 160 million deaths occur in workplaces annually.

This figure is inclusive of the few reported cases in Nigeria.