They need extra payment which we don’t have budget for — NIMR DG
By Chioma Obinna
The morale of frontline health workers at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, is gradually being battered following nonpayment of their COVID-19 allowances by the institution.
The workers are alleging that the management of NIMR has refused to pay them their accrued COVID-19 allowance even when the Federal government has allegedly released the said allowance to the institution.
The helpless workers who are risking their lives on a daily basis are currently facing a lot of pressure as a result of the COVID-19 crisis to ramp up testing in the country.
Some of the workers who spoke to Vanguard under anonymity said they had only been paid three months of their COVID-19 allowances which are -April, May and June 2020.
The workers also alleged that although the Federal Government has paid most of the allowances to NIMR, the management has pocketed the money without giving the workers whom the money was meant for.
According to them, the management of NIMR has continued to claim that the Federal government has not paid their allowances.
The workers also claimed that the results of COVID patients are currently being delayed due to failure of the management to fix one of the machines that have broken down.
Alleging that the situation in NIMR may impact negatively on the efforts of the Federal government to reduce the spread of the virus if nothing is done speedily, a patient who was at the NIMR Laboratory fro COVID-19 tests told Vanguard that the workers are facing a lot of pressure and many of the patients who are manifesting COVID-19 symptoms, who went to do the COVID-19 test today (last week Wednesday) were asked to come back for the result in one week time even after the test have been conducted.
“We found out that the long appointment and delay was because one of the machines for the test has broken down and has not been fixed.
“I also learnt that some NIMR employees are sleeping over in the office just to ensure that deadlines are meant.”
Another health worker who confirmed the patient’s claims said most of the laboratory workers do not leave the laboratory not until 12 midnight every day.
The worker who lamented their tales of woes said: “You would have expected that the staff would be handsomely rewarded for their efforts. But that is not the case in NIMR.”
Responding to the allegations, the Director-General of NIMR, Professor Babatunde Salako in a text message to Vanguard denied the development, adding that the federal government was yet to pay another COVID-19 allowance.
His words: “I don’t know about that, everybody received their salaries as at when due. Government is yet to pay another set of COVID-19 allowance but all were paid in two tranches by the government.
“I think they want extra outside their salaries but we do not have such budget.”