7 September 2017

Nigeria: Govt to Pay Doctors By Friday to Break Doctors' Strike

Photo: Premium Times
Doctors on strike (file photo).

The federal government has promised to offset salary arrears of resident doctors, who went on strike this week, in efforts to get them back to work.

A meeting called by the labour minister Chris Ngige with both National Association of Resident Doctors, the Nigerian Medical Association, hospital heads and the health ministry lasted much of Wednesday.

The meeting discussed agreements reached with striking doctors on August 31, shortly before the strike started. The outcome will be discussed by resident doctors on Friday in hopes of a possible suspension of the strike.

Crucial to the discussion is the absence of resident doctors on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information-the platform for data capture and verification for civil service workers nationwide.

That's led to a salary shortfall last year and between January and May this year for resident doctors.

Salary shortfall

The Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation was contacted for N13.2 billion to address shortfalls in public sector funding, including paying salaries of resident doctors in federal hospitals.

The meeting resolved that, in the absence of the IPPIS, salaries would be sent directly to the affected hospitals that have been authenticated.

The payments are expected as early as Friday September 8, as a gesture of goodwill, for the first eight hospitals.

The accountant-general has forwarded a list of the remaining hospitals to the Central Bank for necessary action, according to a memo from the meeting.

A second batch of hospitals not captured on IPPIS will be treated once the financial implication is sent to the account-general's office.

Resident doctors claim the shortfalls are already verified by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA).

August 2017 salary

Doctors claim their salary shortfall from August 2017 was never rectified, despite their demand for full pay.

The meeting memo observed the shortfalls "were basically experience by those not on the IPPIS platform."

Paramilitary staff are still being captured on the platform, and the accountant-general's office would be ready to deal with members of NARD by October 4, the memo said.

Doctors can expect full pay by October, but preparation for September salaries are already far gone-and any shortfalls will be treated together with that of August.

One member each of NARD, NMA along with ministers of labour, health and the Budget Office will meet with finance and budget-and-planning ministers to talk about shortfalls for doctors not on IPPIS.

But all arrears will be paid based on old payment system before existence of IPPIS.

House officers

Federal government owes house officers more than N422 million, according to computations made since the August 31 "terms of settlement".

The meeting resolved the monetary problems regarding an entry step for house officers would be figured into the 2018 budget by a deadline of October end.

National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission will write the Presidency only when it receives a demand letter from FMOH, and will issue circular on house officers entry point only if it gets a "favourable response" from the Presidency, the memo said.

Stagnated promotion

Doctors complain their promotion is stagnated since they are not allowed to skip a grade level. A previous National Industrial Court ruling was in their favoour, but FMOH has appealed that ruling.

The meeting resolved doctors should be allowed to skip as other health workers pending the outcome of the appeal. Hospitals yet to implement skipping will begin to.

And there will be no "same scale" promotion except at terminal grade level and in accordance with public service rules. But payment for skipping will stop if the Appeal Court invalidates it.


The meeting resolved the FMOH, accountant-general's office and the budget office are to "take necessary steps" to ensure adequate budget allocations to cover pensions for resident doctors.

Doctors have complained of failure to budget, deduct and remit pension contributions since 2013.

The meeting also resolved Federal Government will appeal to State Governments and Organisations that owe salary shortfalls and emoluments to health workers to make genuine efforts to liquidate these arrears in the spirit of revamping the health care system in the country.

Another conciliation meeting is to hold November 2.

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