Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, says the Federal Government will recover millions of naira wrongly paid to 588 medical doctors across the country.
Ngige said this while answering questions from State House correspondents in Abuja, the country’s capital.
He explained that the affected doctors received improper benefits from the Medical Residency Training Fund, which was intended for a certain group of doctors.
The doctors’ names were discovered following a comprehensive examination of the 8,000 names submitted for the training program by Chief Medical Directors of Federal Government health institutes.
However, the minister stated that part of the money had been refunded by some of the impacted doctors and that efforts to retrieve the remaining balance had been stepped up.
He claimed that the government’s Residency Fund payment was being held up due to the impacted doctors’ delays in issuing refunds.
“The Ministry of Health has got the list of doctors who supposedly are to benefit from the Medical Residency Training Fund.
“Total submission of about 8000 names was gotten and the Ministry of Health is scrutinising them.
”We have done the first round of scrutinization and they will now compare what they have with the Post-Graduate Medical College and the Chief Medical Directors who submitted the names.
“The Association of Resident Doctors, in each of the tertiary centres, worked with the CMDs to produce those names, but now that the names are being verified.
”We discovered that about 2000 names shouldn’t be there because they don’t have what is called Postgraduate Reference Numbers of the National Postgraduate Medical College and (or) that of the West African Postgraduate Medical College.
“So, this is it and that is the only thing holding back the Residency Fund payment because it is there already for… incurred expenditure has been done by the Finance Minister and it’s in the Accountant-General’s office,” he said.
”So, once they verify the authenticity of those they are submitting, the Accountant-General will pay.
“We are doing that verification because we do not want what happened last time in 2020 to reoccur.
“In 2020, the submitted names didn’t come through the appropriate source, which is the Postgraduate Medical College and payment was affected and it was discovered that about 588 persons, who were not resident doctors benefited from such money.
“They are now finding it difficult to make the full refund. But they have to refund that money. Some are refunding, but there is no full consideration of the account.
“That account has to be reconciled to enable the accountants to pay the next round of funding for 2021,” he said.
On the ongoing strike by Resident Doctors, Ngige expressed the readiness of the Federal Government to withdraw the case it instituted against them if they would go back to their duty post.
He, however, insisted that the ‘no work, no pay’ policy of the government would be observed because ”it is a global practice which is also captured in Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act under the International Labour Organization, ILO.”
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