NACA to fast-track payment for participants of 2023 NCDs survey


The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has assured participants of the 2023 Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Step Survey of their payments.

The acting Director of NACA, Mr James Aneneh, gave the assurance when he received a group of the participants who were at NACA office in Abuja on Wednesday to protest the delay in the payment.

Aneneh, who took the protesters into the office for discussion, said that though the project was not Federal Government funded programme, the agency would do everything within its power to help fast-track the payment of all outstanding.

“NACA was just a fund-holder of the project . The agency was not the coordinator of the activities. The project was funded by the Global Fund.

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Aneneh also pleaded with the group to understand that because it was global fund specific, there were strict process in place, including verification of claims before payment.

“Based on global fund implementation principles, when you have concluded an activity, there are processes that must take place before you get paid, whatever is owed.

“ This is not a government of Nigeria activity, which means we are using foreign funder, which is a Global Fund. They have their own due process in place before any payments can be finalised.

“ While all of this has gone on, I also made aware this morning that some of your retirements came in March. If a retirement came in March, there are so many processes to have to take place before payments are finalised.

Aneneh said while some states had been paid, some were cleared for payment, while some were also being processed for payments.

“Like I said earlier, because it’s global funds specifically, which I think governments of Nigeria should be doing too, they have very strict processes in place before payments are made.

“They have due diligence. They must verify things. If you sent a flight ticket, they must verify it before they can clear it for payment.

`From the briefing I received from the Global Fund this morning is that these processes are still ongoing. There are still some states that are still being verified. So the states are being cleared in batches.

“ We’ve just cleared a state that is going to be paid any time from now,” he said.

He assured them that NACA was not sitting on their money but their claims had to be verified by Global Fund before any payment could be made.

“There’s nothing we can do with that fund. If we don’t spend it as Global Fund has asked us to spend it, we’ll return it back to them.

“We really, really sympathize with you and understand where you’re coming from, and your anger.

“We have to listen to you people very carefully and figure out a way to immediately expedite action for you to get your payment.

“There is no reason for somebody to do a job six or eight months prior and not get paid.

“Even though we have the resources, if we pay you before the Global Fund says you can go ahead and pay, government of Nigeria will have to pay that money back because it becomes ineligible.”

On the sleep out claim, James said that the office would discuss with the groups vocal persons to look into the agreement that was reach and possible intervention.

Speaking earlier during the protest at the agency ‘s gate, Mrs Judith Ekeh, who led three others in a peaceful protest to NACA office said they were engaged in various positions by agency and the Federal Ministry of Health for the exercise 2023, but yet to be paid.

Ekeh, who served as enumerator during the exercise, urged the agency to pay their money have concluded the survey since 2023.

She said before they were engaged for the survey, they were promised to be paid in three batches.

“We told that the third batch is going to come after retirement of all work documents. Twenty days into the job, our training allowance was paid.

“We already agreed they were going to pay us N8, 000 per day.

“We finished the job and retired all our documents, all the tablets giving to us, all the apparatus, everything given to us.

“My team worked in Niger . We finished the work and came back from the field since August. Our first payment came around Dec. 24. Since then, no other payment has been made,’’ she said.

Ekeh said it was painful that their payments were to delayed.

“If you know how Niger terrain was? We took risks. I was sick for several days.

“One of my teammates lost her pregnancy. We took so much risk for this payment to be delayed,’’ she said.

Eked also urged the agency to intervene on the payment of their “sleep-out –allowance’’.

She said that they were told that only 12 out of 60 days would be paid, which according to her is unacceptable.

Ekek appreciated matured way they were received by NACA management.(NAN)

By Emmanuel Oloniruha

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