It is finished! The Health Minister doesn’t think front line health workers are doing anything special

This period has brought with it interesting times and the owners of circuses; indeed.

What’s today’s story?

Nigeria’s Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire has said he is not aware if health workers treating the dreaded coronavirus patients are being paid hazard allowance.

The minister said this during a meeting between the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and the leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday, a video published by Channels TV on YouTube shows.

I am not aware of it, it is a standard job they do every day,” Ehanire said in response to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila’s question on whether the health workers would get a special allowance for combating the virus.

Because screening is what they do every day.”

The speaker was not going to allow that end there, insisting on a direct answer to his question. But the minister said the health workers are just screening body temperature.

He later acknowledged that he was not aware if the workers would be paid “hazard allowance.”

It is not enough to say you don’t know, quite honestly. You dropped the ball there,” the speaker told the minister, insisting that he should be abreast of the health workers’ welfare.

Responding more responsibly, the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha told the meeting that “every aspect” of the welfare of the health workers will be taken care of in a “comprehensive package” that was being prepared by the government.


When in 2019, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige said, “who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough, they go out, they sharpen their skills. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong with them travelling out,” we got a hint that he cares less about what happens to millions of Nigerians who won’t have access to a medical doctor when all the doctors are “exported.” And, he was representing.

We understand the minister is working, alongside relevant stakeholders to contain the spread of the coronavirus, but we might never understand how a soldier leading a team to war does not care if his team members are well-equipped or not. Who knows what other information the minister does not have?

It is true that Nigerian leaders hardly understand what ‘welfare’ is and will rather prepare personalised packages and make it seem they used their money – you know Reps and Senators do it…But we really cannot have a health minister who has not realised the indispensability of a hazard allowance.

To help us state our point, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) said on its Twitter handle, “…to say health workers combating COVID-19 are a doing standard job smirks of recklessness.”

Before now, Nigerian Medical doctors earn N5,000 monthly as hazard allowance, so it’s quite worrisome that the minister does not know, has not thought of it and has not even increased it; knowing what risks health workers are going through this period. See what Nigerians are saying on Twitter: 

It is evident- again – that some of our leaders do not understand what they were employed for, and are simply on the seat to add titles to their portfolios. You will recall how the Secretary to the Federal Government said he did not have an idea that the health system was so bad. He had to be part of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to have this information. Like…he does not listen to Nigerians at all?

What is more worrisome is that the health minister insisted that the health workers were simply doing their jobs. But we are not surprised. Nigeria’s leaders mostly think we are in a circus, so the health minister is simply on the stage at the moment.

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