Buhari approves additional N8.9b for June COVID-19 hazard allowance

By Valentine Amanze

The federal government of Nigeria has approved additional N8.9 billion to off-set a large chunk of the June 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) allowance to all health workers in the country.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this 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 further disclosed that the implementation of the payment of the Special Hazard and Inducement Allowance had been concluded, explaining that it was cash-backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payments to start with effect from September 9.

He said that the measure would bring the total disbursement to about N288 billion.

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 would 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 Nigerian government pointed out 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 N9.3 billion 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 had 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.

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