Decries Poor- State Of Federal Roads In N/Delta
By Ovie Okpare
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has described the N5,000 monthly hazard allowance for medical doctors and health workers in the country as unacceptable.
NMA called on the Federal and State Governments to immediately review upward the amount in the face of increasing health hazards being experienced by health workers especially in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was contained in a communique issued on Sunday at the end of the South-South Zonal Executive Council (ZEC) of the NMA meeting held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, where it also condemned the rising insecurity in the country.
The communique signed by Dr. Nwose Emmanuel and Dr. Okoacha Innocent, Chairman and Secretary, NMA South-South Zone, also called for a new approach in the fight against bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements fueling insecurity in the country.
“The rising insecurity, escalation of banditry and kidnapping in different parts of Nigeria continue to be a source of serious concern. ZEC condemned the insecurity in the country particularly in Northern Nigeria, where mass abduction of citizens mostly students occur.
“Council-in-session appreciates the efforts of the security agencies in fighting crimes and criminality in the country, but advised that they change their operational strategies to conquer the criminals who are causing mayhem to law abiding citizens of our country”,
“In the same vein, Council applauded NMA Cross River state and the Governor of Cross River state for collaborating with security agencies and other critical stakeholders to tackle the incessant kidnapping of doctors and other healthcare workers that bedeviled the state last year”, the communique added.
The Zonal Council, in the communiqué, commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State for being the first governor in the zone which has paid the COVID-19 special hazard/inducement allowance to all doctors and other healthcare workers.
NMA South-South implored the governors of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo and Rivers states to as well domesticate and pay the COVID-19 special hazard allowance to all doctors and other healthcare workers.
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On the N5,000 monthly hazard allowance, the communiqué said, “The ZEC noted with dismay the abysmally low monthly hazard allowance of five thousand (#5,000) Naira only, in the face of the increasing health hazards faced by doctors and other healthcare workers by the dreaded COVID-19 Pandemic and other deadly infectious diseases.
“The Council called on State & Federal Governments to approve an appropriate percentage of the consolidated basic salaries as monthly hazard allowance for all doctors and healthcare workers in Nigeria as we continue to battle this terrible Covid-19 Pandemic and other infectious diseases on daily basis at our work places.”
While expressing delight with the decline in number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the council commended the Federal Government for the provision of COVID-19 vaccines and enjoined medical doctors and health workers in the region to use the opportunity to get themselves vaccinated against the virus.
The Council, however, applauded what it described as renewed zeal by governors of the South-South region in ensuring infrastructural development in the health sector and commended the governors for their efforts in improving the welfare of doctors and other healthcare workers.
“We, however, call on the state governments to attend to the issues of monthly hazard allowance, COVID-19 special hazard/inducement allowance, Residency Training Act and Tax rebate on earned allowances which have led to our members leaving the country in droves for greener pastures.
“The Council-in-session observed with utmost displeasure, the delay in the payment of the salaries and arrears of some house officers due to the problems that emanated from the recent policy in which federal government took over the posting and payment of the house officers to avert alleged abuse. This has led to tension in the health sector, and the threat of strike action by the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
“We implore the Federal Ministry of Health, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, and the Chief Medical Directors of federal tertiary hospitals to urgently resolve all grey areas and ensure prompt payment of salaries of the house officers affected”, it added.
On the state of federal roads in the region, the communiqué read, “The NMA South-South zone observed the deplorable state of the Federal roads in the South-South region of the country, of note is the impassable Federal road between Akwa Ibom and Cross River state, which has caused untold hardship on commuters and the people of Niger Delta.
“Council strongly advised the Akwa Ibom and Cross River state governments to interface more with the Federal Government and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for urgent rehabilitation and repair of that federal road to ameliorate the suffering of the citizens. In the same vein, we implore Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to embark on massive rehabilitation and maintenance of the interstate roads within the region.”
The NMA South-South Zonal Executive Council was attended by the Chairman, NMA Delta state and chairman, South-South zone, Dr. Nwose Emmanuel; Chairman, NMA Akwa Ibom state, Dr. Ime Sylvester Udoh; Chairman, NMA Bayelsa state, Dr. Ngowari Torunana; Chairman, NMA Cross River state, Dr. Abang Innocent; Chairman, NMA Rivers state, Dr. Alikor Chizindu and other NMA NEC members.