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22.11.2022 Featured ‘Pay Us Our Arrears’ — FMC Interns Protest 11 Months of Unpaid Hazard Allowance

Published 22nd Nov, 2022

By Emmanuel Uti

Health workers serving as interns at federal medical centres (FMCs) across the country are demanding the full payment of their hazard allowance arrears owed by the Federal Ministry of Health.

Speaking to FIJ, some of the interns accused the government of promoting inequality among health workers at the medical centres.

They claim that the government only pays full hazard allowance to serving corps members and house masters, while other interns are only paid N5,000 out of the N32,000 allotted to them.

Nnamdi Odigwe (not real name), a pharmacist working at the FMC in Jalingo, Taraba State, told FIJ he had never received a full payment since the federal government increased interns’ hazard allowance from N5,000 to N32,000 in December 2021.

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‘IT IS NOT A PRIVILEGE; IT IS MY RIGHT’

The intern said the government was being unfair by paying only house masters because they are doctors, while ignoring other medical professionals such as dieticians, pharmacists and so on.

“The government has paid all clinical and non-clinical staff, including the cleaners, who are less likely to be exposed to health hazards while on the job. They pay medical corps members as well, but not us,” Odigwe told FIJ.

“Hazard allowance is not a privilege; it is our right. When we were given our appointment letters as interns, it was made clear that we would enjoy any other benefit associated with the civil service work we do.”

Odigwe also said that despite reaching out to the Joint Health Workers Union of Nigeria (JOHESU) on the issue, the aggrieved interns were only told they would be paid soon.

“How can I be patient when the government has owed me N27,000 for nine months, while my other colleagues have continued to receive salaries on a steady basis?” Odigwe asked rhetorically.

“We don’t know why this discrimination is happening. We have contacted various departments in the hospitals to make our case that we are associated with the same health hazards those in the hospitals face, but all our efforts have not yielded any positive outcome.”

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FROM A SECOND INTERN

For Joyce Adama (not real name), a pharmacist at Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), the story has been the same.

She told FIJ that she started her internship with the hospital in the second quarter of the year but has not been paid her hazard allowance in full.

Like other interns, Adama receives only N5,000 at the end of every month as hazard allowance.

“I still do not know why we are never paid the N32,000 in full,” Adama said.

“I have been to the accounting department at the hospital to ask why the intern doctors get paid their hazard allowance in full, but not us. They said they were compiling the names, but this is the same story they have been telling us for a while now.”

YET ANOTHER INTERN

In the same vein, Bashiru Jugun (not real name also), a dental technologist at the FMC in Keffi, Nasarawa State, said since he started his internship service year in January, the government had only been paying him N5,000 every month while the remaining N27,000 is “withheld”.

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He said none of his superiors are always able to give him a convincing response whenever he sought answer to the non-payment of their allowance.

“My service year ends in December. If the government does not pay me what they have been owing me since January, I’m afraid I will never receive the outstanding funds once my service year is over,” said Jugun.

When FIJ called the Federal Ministry of Health on the phone number displayed on its website, it did not connect. A text message and an email sent to them had also not been responded to at press time.

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Published 22nd Nov, 2022

By Emmanuel Uti

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