Abia doctors demand payment salaries as strike enters 87th day

“Doctors working at ABSUTH are owed salaries from May to December 2019; from January to June and from September to December of 2020.

File photo of Doctors in Abia protesting non-payment of salaries

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Abia has expressed consternation at the failure of Abia government to pay salary arrears owed to doctors who had been on strike in the last 87 days.

Members of the Abia chapter of the NMA embarked on strike on Dec. 8, 2022, to demand payment of salary arrears owed doctors in the service of the state government.

The chairman Dr. Isaiah Abali and Secretary, Dr. Daniel Ekeleme, stated on Saturday in Umuahia that doctors at Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) were being owed 24 months’ salaries.

Those at the Hospital Management Board (HMB) were being owed 14 months’ salaries they added and described the situation as painful.

“Doctors in Abia embarked on an indefinite strike to press home their demand over the sad and intractable issue of non-payment of their monthly salaries.

“It is a painful reminder of the wickedness of man to man.

“Doctors working at ABSUTH are owed salaries from May to December 2019; from January to June and from September to December of 2020.

“They are also owed salaries from September to December 2022 and January and February in 2023

“Doctors at the HMB are owed from May to December in 2021; from September to December in 2022 and for January and February in 2023.

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“It is instructive to note the uneven arrangement in payment of salaries for reasons explainable only by Abia government.

“On the face value it looks more as an effort to short-change workers and write off some of their unpaid salaries,’’ the association stated.

It appealed to the state government to expedite action in clearing the salary arrears, stressing that “a worker deserves his wages.’’

ICIR REPORT on the issue

A Document exclusively obtained by The ICIR reveals that the state government led by Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu upon resuming office in 2015, met seven months withheld salary by the previous administration but also accumulated another four months, making it 11 months during his first year.

Through the intervention of President Muhammad Buhari, the state government cleared the eleven months owed salary in tranches. However, as the state government cleared the months, it kept accumulating another month of unpaid salaries.

President Buhari made an attempt to clear the arrears by giving a bailout fund to the state government. The ICIR gathered that the payments, 22 of the then outstanding arrears were made on August 21, 2015, September 4 and 23, 2015, October 29, 2015, November 30 and December 30, 2015, March 8, 2016, June 8, 2016 and December 29, 2016.

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Not knowing that the accumulated months will continue for years, the state doctors ignored the unpaid salary for a few months after receiving the previously owed salaries till they couldn’t bear the brunt again.

Findings by The ICIR confirmed that the residents’ doctors are being owed 25 months’ salaries, Hospital Management Board (HMB) staff members are owed about 14 months, while other cadres of doctors in the state have their 26-month salary arrears unpaid.