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Nigeria hit by labour disputes over unpaid salaries

Date: Sep 13, 2017

Kenneth Madiebo isn't seeking global recognition for helping to stop the spread of Ebola in Nigeria in 2014 - he just wants to be paid.

Nearly three years after the country was declared free from the virus, he and six colleagues say they are still owed money. Now, after appeals for payment fell on deaf ears, they're taking the government to court to claim what they say is 36 months of back pay totaling nearly $450 000.

Madiebo, who as incident manager at the Ebola emergency operations centre in Lagos, risked his life at the front line of the response to the outbreak, said he can't understand it. "We all agree that we did our jobs very well. We handled all of it," the public health specialist told AFP.

But his is not an isolated case: the government is currently facing a series of long-running disputes, mostly about salary arrears, and a culture of late and non-payment.

Series of strikes

State and federal university staff has been on strike since mid-August over the non-payment of allowances dating back to 2009. Doctors in public hospitals walked out this month to try to force the government to implement an agreement that includes the payment of salary arrears from 2013.

In 2015, staff in 30 out of 36 states was owed wages, as oil-dependent Nigeria - Africa's biggest economy on paper - slid towards recession after a fall in global crude prices.

The Finance Ministry said in June that 12 states still owed staff between one and nine months of pay, despite government bailouts totaling $2.1 billion. Last December, the women's national football team even staged a protest march to parliament after failing to be paid for winning the Africa Nations Cup.

Nigeria has finally emerged from recession and President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed previous administrations and state governors for financial mismanagement.


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