The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, expressed grave displeasure over the lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Government towards prompt payment of salaries of frontline medical and health workers during the ravaging scourge of coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country.
The lawmakers expressed the concerns during the debate on a motion, the “Urgent need to investigate the status of Nigerian medical and pharmaceutical research efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”, sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Toby Okechukwu.
In leading the debate, Hon Okechukwu noted that with over 6,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, he is worried that despite the efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank to cushion the health and economic hazards worldwide, no real local treatment has been approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for Nigerians.
He also expressed concern that, while other countries are making measurable local progress in the fight against the pandemic, Nigeria seems to be lagging far behind which will delay success in tackling the effects of the pandemic.
To this end, the House mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to investigate the level of preparedness of the relevant health agencies in coming up with tested, effective and certified indigenous curative measures for Nigerians and report back to the House within 3 weeks for further legislative action.
Also at plenary, the House admonished Federal Government to ensure the protection of healthcare personnel and ensure the payment of salaries to statutory health workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In his lead debate, Hon Yusuf Sununu stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked health, as well as socioeconomic havoc on nations worldwide, and the health workers who are the frontline foot soldiers should be adequately protected and kitted, and their hazard allowances should be ensured, given the sacrifice they continue to render.
He also called on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on the need to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the healthcare workers, especially in regular hospitals are well kitted and protected. He also called on the NCDC to ensure the healthcare workers receive their due allowances.
The lawmaker also underscored the need for the House leadership to hold an urgent meeting with all the leading agencies with the view to address all the abnormalities.
In his remarks, Hon Gabajabiamila, who stressed the importance of the motion, especially because health workers still have not been paid salaries since January due to some technicalities, argued that it was unfair to expect health workers to continue to risk their lives without being paid during this pandemic.
To this end, the House mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to ensure compliance.