No fewer than 588 medical doctors across Nigeria have reportedly benefited from a fund mistakenly paid into their account by the Federal Government.
Mr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, disclosed in Abuja while responding to questions from State House correspondents.
According to the minister, names of beneficiaries of the wrongly paid fund were uncovered after a thorough “scrutinisation of the 8000 names submitted by Chief Medical Directors of Federal Government health institutions for the training programme”.
Ngige lamented that while some doctors have willingly refunded the Medical Residency Training Fund meant for a particular category of doctors, others are still being pressured to follow suit.
He noted that the inability of the affected doctors to refund the money is why the government has held back the Residency Fund payment meant to be released to medical personnel.
Ngige said: ”Ministry of Health has gotten the list of doctors who supposedly are to benefit from the Medical Residency Training Fund.
”Total submission of about 8000 names were gotten and the Ministry of Health is scrutinising them.
”We have done the first round of scrutinization and they will now compare what they have with the Post-Graduate Medical College and the Chief Medical Directors who submitted the names.
“The Association of Resident Doctors, in each of the tertiary centres, worked with the CMDs to produce those names, but now the names are being verified.
”We discovered that about 2000 names shouldn’t be there because they don’t have what is called Postgraduate Reference Numbers of National Postgraduate Medical College and (or) that of the West African Postgraduate Medical College.
“So, this is it and that is the only thing holding back the Residency Fund payment because it is there already for… incurred expenditure has been done by the Finance Minister and an it’s in the Accountant-General’s office.,” he said.
”So, we once verify the authenticity of those they are submitting, the Accountant-General will pay,” he added.
Ngige stressed further that the government is conducting a verification because ‘we do not want what happened last time in 2020 to reoccur.’
”In 2020, the submitted names didn’t come through the appropriate source, which is the Postgraduate Medical College and payment was affected and it was discovered that about 588 persons, who were not resident doctors benefited from such money.
”They are now finding it difficult to make the full refund. But they have to refund that money. Some are refunding, but there is no full consideration of the account.
”That account has to be reconciled to enable the accountants pay the next round of funding for 2021,” he said.