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Strike: FG Offers To Pay Salary Arrears Of Doctors

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As part of steps to end the on-going strike that has paralysed many hospitals, the Federal Government has directed immediate payment of salary arrears of over 450 medical doctors.

Those affected are mostly House Officers, who are being owed for three months.

Also, government said it has started discussing with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and other health associations on the review of the Hazard Allowance for all workers in the sector.

It acknowledged N5,000 Hazard Allowance per head as paltry, and pledged to review it.

The government appealed to doctors to abide by their Hippocratic Oath by calling off the strike in the interest of Nigerians.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, made the disclosures in an interview with newsmen, yesterday.

He said, “Those people are not being owed, their money is there. The issue is about migration from GIFMIS to IPPIS. It was like the case of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“But, their list has been compiled and submitted on Saturday for Accountant-General of the Federation’s office to start payment of the backlog of three months for the two groups. If you are employed in January up to March and you have not been paid, is it not three months?

“If you terminated your payment in GIFMIS in October up to December, is it not three months? We are going to pay them.

“At the conciliation, we gave everybody waiver over the payroll. So, it is in the agreement we signed, the Memorandum of Action, that they are saying they don’t want or that the is president is saying he does not want. He didn’t know because he didn’t participate in the meeting.

“So, I expect that the payment to start any moment from Monday. IPPIS office assured me that they will start paying, if they get the full list. That is the major one.”

“This abdication of responsibility resulted in the present chaotic situation, which made some Chief Medical Directors to go ahead and conduct recruitment of new house officers on their own in violation of circular which prohibits same. They claimed they did this to maintain their manpower need to save lives.”

On Hazard Allowance, the government said the input of the doctors and other health workers had not been received by the government.

The statement added, “The Minister of Labour had also advised the committee to send in their proposal through the Federal Ministry of health, their employers, and up till date, no such proposal has reached the desk of the minister. The minister equally gave audience to two professional groups in the health sector and advised them same.

“The minister, as the co-chair of the Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages, held similar meetings with two other health professional groups at their request and also advised them in the same way to send in their proposal through the Federal Ministry of Health. We are not sure the Ministry of Health received these proposals till now.

Giving more insights into what led to the crisis in the health sector.

The statement added, “National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) was also kept in the dark by the NMA leadership. At the request of the president of the NMA, the Minister of Labour and Employment had received in audience and held a technical session with the NMA Remuneration Committee led by Dr. Orhue on the issue of hazard allowance – from N5,000 to a new rate based on CONMES salary structure.”

It said the minister was of the opinion that NARD should have allowed the NMA to handle all issues instead of going on strike.

The statement said, “The minister further said the House officers are not members of NARD since they are medical doctors with provisional license, hence members of NMA which is the professional umbrella for all doctors.

“The abdication of responsibility for protecting the baby doctors by the NMA is nothing but a grave display of lack of leadership, indeed leadership failure. Playing the ostrich and hiring militant NARD to lead the way in what should be a smooth display of administrative craftsmanship.

“Ngige added that the invocation of national strike by NARD over an issue that could be handled by the NMA does not help the nation.”

This tranche of grants for debt service relief will continue to help free up scarce financial resources for vital emergency health, social, and economic support to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Subject to the availability of sufficient resources in the CCRT, debt service relief could be provided for the remaining period through from October 16, 2021 to April 13, 2022, amounting to a total of about SDR 680 ($964) million.

In March, 2020, IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, launched an urgent fundraising effort to raise $1.4billion in grants for the CCRT.

This would enable the CCRT to provide financial assistance for relief on debt service for up to a maximum of two years, while leaving the CCRT adequately funded for future needs.

Thus far, donors have pledged contributions totalling about $774million, including from the European Union, the UK, Japan, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore, China, Mexico, Philippines, Sweden, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, and Malta.

The Fund’s executive directors welcomed the opportunity to consider the approval of grants under the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to support the third tranche of debt service relief for the Fund’s poorest and most vulnerable members.

They noted that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to exact a severe human and economic toll on these countries and that the resources freed up by the first and second tranches of CCRT debt service relief had helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

The directors agreed that the available resources and pledges are sufficient to finance the third tranche of debt service relief for the period from April 14, to October 15, 2021.

Accordingly, they approved grant assistance under the CCRT for relief for 28 eligible members that have debt service falling due during this period.

The directors concurred that countries that received the CCRT grants for debt relief are generally pursuing appropriate macroeconomic policies in response to the economic fallout from the global pandemic.

They welcomed that a number of member countries were transitioning to Upper Credit Tranche-quality arrangements which would provide a stronger policy framework for the recovery period.

The directors also observed that most countries would benefit from a resumption of Fund surveillance and updated debt sustainability assessments.

same way as the North that gave him 95%, adding that the President has kept his word by giving all the strategic security posts to the Muslim Hausa/Fulani North.

“The President did not trust sons and daughters of the South-East of Nigeria enough to assign one of the top internal security jobs even when by merits, there are several qualified Igbo-speaking officers.

“By the way, and by way of analogy, the current Army Chief was a Major General. Are there no Major Generals of Igbo extraction or are there no Igbo equivalents of major General in other segments of the Armed Forces like the Navy and Air Force?” HURIWA wondered.

“The President does not like the faces of Igbo except the person whom he made his official photographer. So, you can see that the South-East of Nigeria has received unfavourable treatment. The key spokesman of the President behaves more like the defender of Miyetti Allah castle sellers than an officer working for the citizens and the nation-Nigeria.

“There have been at least one dozen deaths of civilians by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen in the South-East since 2015 till even as recently as two days back. This government did not describe the attacks as terrorism. Even the one in Ebonyi that the friend of the President, Governor Dave Umahi directly accused armed Fulani, herdsmen.

“The armed bandits destroying North-West are terrorists, but this government rebaptised them as armed bandits and has watched as someone who is a religious cleric is busy defending these terrorists and even insulting Journalists for calling the armed bandits as criminals. Last time, a group affiliated to Fulani herdsmen said they attacked Benue Governor, but the President said nothing.

“The National Security Adviser says the man Sheikh Gumi has the right to talk to whomsoever he wishes to talk to, but this is the same government that the police have shot and killed about two or more journalists only because they were covering protests by Islamic Movement of Nigeria here in Abuja.

“The last attack in the Ebonyi community by armed Fulani herdsmen in which a priest and 30 other innocent civilians were slaughtered was never described as terrorists but rather Garba Shehu, who signed a statement on behalf of the President, who reportedly went to see his British doctor, sounded patronizing and dramatic by issuing empty threat to deal with them.

“Now, the attacks in Owerri have been hurriedly described as an act of terrorism and the IGP whose stay in office is a subject of intense ligation by citizens, quickly said IPOB was responsible and then as expected the so-called spokesmen of IPOB says they were not responsible.

“Igbo in Diaspora, who have contacts with world leaders should stop sitting on the fence. Your homeland is about to be desecrated; will you not speak out or are you comfortable with these attacks which initially was coloured as targeting security forces and national security Institutions? And now without any sort of investigations, those who are privileged to have been nepotistically appointed into national offices are now seeking to execute their anti-Igbo agenda.

“Tell us whether it is ethically, legally, morally right for these same police, military, DSS that failed to protect public institutions and their officers most of whom serving in the East, especially the police to now be drafted to unleash violence on innocent people.”

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Paris Club Refund: Suspicious N159bn Judgment Debts Worry NGF

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has engaged Femi Falana, SAN, to challenge the judgments awarding some “consultants and contractors” humongous shares of the Paris and London Club refunds received from the Federal Government by the various states and their local governments.
Falana, in a letter dated April 19, 2021, written to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, on behalf of the NGF, requested that the plan to issue promissory notes to the purported creditors be suspended, in deference to the legal steps being taken to appeal against the judgments.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria’s letter is sequel to an earlier correspondence dated April 8 sent to the finance minister by a law firm, Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN & Co, on behalf of one of the creditors, Ted Iseghoghi-Edwards.
Investigations on the controversial judgment debts have revealed that Iseghoghi-Edwards is laying claim to $159million for providing consultancy services to the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) to secure the Paris Club refund.
Findings show that a total of $418million judgment debts (about N159billion at the exchange rate of $1 to N380.5) has already been cleared for payment by influential officials of President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
It was gathered that those behind the desperate push for the payment are Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the finance minister.
They have concluded on paying the six creditors through the issuance of promissory notes to be funded from state governments’ allocations for 10 years.
It was learnt that the officials are pushing for the payment despite Mr President’s directive suspending it after the NGF raised an objection to it, and called for a forensic audit of the whole indebtedness.
The Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) has, on different occasions, written to the AGF, querying the claims by Iseghoghi-Edwards and a firm, Riok Nigeria Limited.

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RSG Seeks Improved Media Partnership On Projects Delivery

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The Rivers State Government has restated its commitment to partner with the media at all times in order to consolidate on the delivery of infrastructural development and good governance.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim stated this, last Monday, in a keynote address at the 2021 Media Day, organised by the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, District 9141 in Port Harcourt, with the theme, ‘Developing Media Infrastructure for Good Governance’.
“Using the various media infrastructure in which a wide range of debates take place and variety of viewpoints represented, the Rivers State Government led by Governor Nyesom Wike has continued to deliver projects that impact positively for the betterment of Rivers State and her people.
“Between last year and the whole of the first quarter of 2021, Rivers State was on the global map as eminent citizens of Nigeria joined the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to commission projects in eleven local government areas of the state.
“This unprecedented development coming at a time when most leaders were hiding under the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic to cover their ineptitude will surely remain legendary,” he noted.
Nsirim asserted that many social commentators across the country have opined with convictions that the only person who can realistically beat the impressive record is Governor Nyesom Wike himself, especially when the next phase of projects commissioning would commence, “which will unveil some of the most amazing and marvelous legacy infrastructural projects ever seen in Rivers State.
“Project commissioning has become synonymous with the Governor Wike’s administration in the last five years and even against the backdrop of the noisome buzzing of a jobless, fragmented and confused opposition in the state,” he said.

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No Reasonable Govt’ll Allow Pantami In Cabinet, Wike Mocks Buhari

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, should resign from office, irrespective of his recent volte-face on his previous support for extremist groups.
The governor noted that in an ideal society, an allegation that the United States of America has placed a serving minister on its watch list as regards to terrorism, should jolt any government into action.
He stated this during an interview with the African Independent Television (AIT) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday.
“If it was really where a government is working, if an American government says your minister is on a watch list, it calls for concern for you say look there is a problem. The moment a high government official is on a watch list as to regards to terrorism, no government can fold its hands and allow it.”
Wike, said the minister ought to have resigned from the government immediately the information about his extremist views in support of terror groups became a matter of public discourse.
The governor described as worrisome the decision of the Federal Government to remain mute amidst the raging controversy about the minister’s sympathy for global terrorist groups.
“I don’t understand why a reasonable government will allow such a person to be in the cabinet.”
The governor noted that the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government was known for its proclivity to shield persons of questionable characters, even when the country’s secret service presents overwhelming evidence against such individuals.
“But you were here when DSS wrote a report against (Ibrahim) Magu. What happened? Look, I have never seen a country that your secret service wrote a report about the nominee of Mr President, questioning his character and the rest, and that he is not appointable. What happened? So, what are you talking about? What removed Magu is power play.”
Wike also took a swipe at the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for not taking stern disciplinary action against former Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, who recently claimed he conspired with others to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election.
“If I was the leadership of the party, I would have suspended Aliyu for that comment he made. But, you see nothing will happen. The National Working Committee will not do anything. Why? They need Aliyu to support them.
“I cannot understand why you are a leader; so, to speak, you come out and tell the world why you fought your party. I have never seen a thing like that in my life. Assuming you did it, you now want to rub it on them, and that nothing will happen.”

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