There are indications that the Federal Government paid the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) into accounts that had not been verified by the Ministry of Health.
Findings by BizWatch Nigeria showed that when the error was discovered, the Head of Service ordered an immediate reversal of the transactions made by the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS) to over 7,000 accounts.
This follows allegations levelled against the government on social media that after the payment for the training were made, the accounts of the doctors were debited.
The President, National Association Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr Dare Ishaya, who confirmed what happened to BizWatch Nigeria, said a list that had been verified by the association and the Ministry of Health was sent to IPPIS for the payment.
According to him, IPPIS did not use the list but made payment to another list it had earlier received from the Budget Office.
He said, “The payment was effected but credited to the wrong accounts. It was not verified by NARD and the Ministry of Health. Before the payment, there was an agreement that a verified list will be sent to the Ministry of Health. With that list, the IPPIS will make the payment.
“When a list of 20 verified doctors was sent to IPPIS to make payment, the IPPIS honoured an earlier list which was sent by, according to them, from the budget office. They (IPPIS) used that list to make the payments.
According to Ishaya, many of those whose accounts were credited with the funds have exited the programme and did not qualify to get the residency training fund.
“We gathered that there was a directive from the Head of Service to the Accountant General Office to recoup all the money that was paid in error. They were asked to adhere to the list sent by the Ministry of Health. That is why they are recouping the money,“ he added.
In the heat of the industrial strike action embarked on by members of the NARD, payment of the Medical Residency Training Fund was among the list of conditions laid down to be met by the Federal Government to end the month-long strike that began in August 2021.
To meet this demand, the association gave a 72-hour ultimatum to the government, at the end of its Annual General Meeting, held at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State, in September.
NARD said that “payment of the Medical Residency Training within 72 hours since the money meant for it is available and verification of the list for payment has been completed.”
The ultimatum was not honoured because, according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the Federal Government had no knowledge of the given ultimatum.
In addition to its demand for the payment of the residency training fund, the association also asked that the government settled the payment of the arrears of salaries of its members on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) platform – an integrated financial management system created by the government.
- Additional reporting by Kindness Udoh.