THE Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, on Thursday lamented that some states in the country were paying Egyptian, Cuban and Pakistani doctors five times higher than what they pay their Nigerian counterparts.
He warned that such preferential treatment given to foreigners by some states ahead of their Nigerian counterparts does not encourage national unity and loyalty.
Ngige said this while receiving the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission, Dr Muheeba Dankaka, and other federal commissioners, who paid him a courtesy visit.
He charged the FCC to use its constitutional mandate to promote national unity and loyalty, rather than concentrate efforts only on the public sector, especially in job recruitment.
This was contained in a statement by the ministry of labour and employment spokesman, Charles Akpan, titled, ‘Some states pay foreign doctors five times higher than Nigerian counterparts-Ngige.’
The minister appealed to the commission to ensure equitable distribution of amenities, infrastructure and social services in the country.
Ngige said, “The constitution did not say that you do only cases in the public sector.
There are areas we need you to look into, especially where the constitution is silent.
“We have cases where doctors are employed from Egypt, Cuba and Pakistan and they are paid five times what the Nigerian doctor will get if you convert the foreign exchange they use to pay them.
“But in this country, I was here when some of my teachers left South-East to teach in the North-East at a time. They left because we had enough down there to export to our brothers. They were paid with our local currency and given some other incentives, which at the end of the day made the economy of those states to be alright.
“Whether you like it or not, if some people are poor in Nigeria in the poverty index rating, when the Nigerian poverty index is being taken, it will be an aggregate, including those places. If it is health, when the health parameters are being taken, it is for the whole. So, FCC can go into that area.”
He urged the FCC to persuade the state governments to open up and advertise jobs, “so that Nigerians can come whether from South-East, South- South or North’ Central to come and fill the gap.”
Ngige blamed the economic situation for the worsening labour dispute issues in the country, adding that “ labour unions are now remembering agreements they signed with the previous administrations, some dating back to 2009 and even 2002.”
He maintained that the resident doctors who were not paid were those illegally recruited by Chief Medical Directors without necessary approval.
Earlier the FCC chairman noted that the commission was established to promote the unity of the country and ensure strong and indivisible nation.