…Navy hospital threatens to read military act against them
While the gains of the health sector is rubbing off on the workers in various hospitals across the country, same cannot be said of Medical interns and House Officers undergoing their compulsory one year training in the various military hospitals across the country.
This is as a result of none of them being paid since they were given their appointment this year thus making them to undergo the suffering of their lives. We gathered that the frustration of staying without pay may force the female ones among them into going into ‘Aristo’, a special kind of prostitution where they sleep with only the rich for money. Information available at our disposal revealed that the interns in all the military hospitals wrote a letter to their various command on their intention to embark on strike, but the bluff was called off them.
A special case is that of the Navy Hospital, Lagos where the commandant has resorted to issuing them threats, warning them not to try any strike action. He thundered that should they make good their threat to go on strike; he will have the military act read against them. In a meeting held on Wednesday, we authoritatively gathered that he also threatened then that he will not issue letter of internship and housemanship completion to them.
During the meeting, he mocked them to enjoy the suffering and keep bearing it, noting that they are not the first to be subjected to such trauma and thus should not act like their case is peculiar than others who had come and gone. Further investigations carried out by us revealed that the military hospitals have been in this habit for years and only pay when the interns are about to leave. Shockingly enough, they have become cash cows for the commandants who only pay them for 10 months while the rest goes into the thin air.
A military source however confided in us that the threat by the hospital cannot be enforced as the acts governing the military do not extend to the medical students.
While the Navy Hospital, Lagos threatened, medical interns/house officers in other military hospitals have made good their strike threat after a letter written to them. “This is to notify you that we the house officers and interns employed by the Ministry of Defence, Nigeria having; considered the refusal of the ministry to pay up salaries since our appointments six months ago.
“Their insensitivity to our plights and various pleas to resolve this salary issue amicably; refusal to disburse pay slip before payment of salaries and inability to meet up with the two weeks deadline of payment given to us by them”, they wrote to their various heads.
When contacted, a top source in the budget office however debunk claim that the money for the interns was captured in this year budget. In confidence, he noted that they could not be added since they were not sure of the number that would be employed by the military; hence they could not be included.
He stated that they had to do so to avoid anyone claiming that names were falsified and paid, as well as avoid ghost workers that have plagued the Nigeria civil service. We however gathered that their names have been compiled and sent to the ministry of finance and approval may be given, but due to bureaucracy it may take time for the budget office to get the AIE, but they will be paid before next weekend.
This scenario of owing the interns also applies to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) posted there as they are mostly not paid till the end of their service year. A corp member who served with the Navy clinic in Makurdi since 2011 is yet to be paid her one salary, a source confirmed to us.
Attempts to get across to the Director of Medical Services in the MOD were not successful as she never picked her calls nor replied to a sms sent to her.
The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala we gathered is out of the country and could not be reached for comments.