The Federal Government Thursday said it has commenced the payment of death benefits to deceased doctors and other health workers under the Group Life Insurance.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige stated this in his office after a meeting between Federal Government representatives and the Nigeria Association of Residence Doctors (NARD).

Ngige who described the meeting as very fruitful, said evidence was tendered by the office of the Head of Service of the Federation to show that insurance companies have started paying up.

According to him, the evidence tendered at the meeting corroborated what the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi Esan told the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Ngige said, “Over a billion naira is on for payment as death benefits. Evidence has been tendered about those who have received the cheques. And so, we are happy that something has been done in that direction in health institutions. This is apart from what happens in other government establishments covered by this life insurance.”

Regarding the Residency Training Fund which is supposed to be in 2021 budget, the Minister said the Budget Office of the Federation tendered evidence to show that the N4.3b due to them was captured under the personnel costs in service wide votes.

He said work is in progress for those who are migrating from GFMIS platform to IPPIS, adding that the budget and IPPIS offices were given about 30 days to conclude all the outstanding issues.

He disclosed that a committee has been constituted to look into the issue of tertiary institutions that are not adhering to the abolition of bench fees.

“Bench fees are fees paid by residents to institutions where they have gone to acquire trainings that are not available in their original training institutions. They (resident doctors) have claimed that some training hospitals like Lagos University Teaching Hospital and University College Ibadan are not adhering to that agreement and a special committee has been set up under the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health to look into it. The Chairman of Committee of CMD’s, Prof. Jaf Momoh who is the CMD of National Hospital Abuja will assist him. We hope that matter will be sorted out in two weeks.”

“With all these and others like consequential minimum wage salary adjustment arrears being taken care of, we hope that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of NARD which is billed to meet sometime next week will be happy and then, encourage their officers to dialogue. We don’t need strike anymore and they (resident doctors) agreed with me that we don’t need strike. So, it is work in progress. We thank them for the understanding they showed.”

Meanwhile, the national leadership of NARD has extolled Ngige for his interventions which has led to industrial harmony in the health sector, describing him as a lovely father, gentleman and elder.

Speaking on behalf of the association, the 1st Vice President of NARD, Arome Christopher Adejo said “If more Nigerians were like Ngige, this country will be a better place.”

“He has appealed to us and explained some things to us and we are reporting back to our NEC. That is our role. As officials of the association, we don’t take decisions. We listen and take back to the NEC and we do so with all sense of commitment, patriotism and love to our fellow Nigerians.”

Others from the Government side at the meeting were the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Enahire, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Abdulahi and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Peter Yerima Tarfa and representatives of Budget Office, IPPIS, amongst others.

The NARD leadership was led by its President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi.

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