Sacking Nigerian doctors: The greatest mischief

By Ejike Onuogu, MD  (EMAIL)
Buffalo, NY, USA
Monday, November 27, 2000

he ailing and cries of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) can be heard from even far away countries. The civilized world will be laughing at Africa's largest democracy, the average Neo-colonialist will be having a field day as these events unfold. At least it keeps the milk flowing for as long as necessary to ensure that the master is fed. In neo-colonialism Africa is the milking spot, the mine field for some; indeed it does not matter in the eyes of the vulture whose Ox is gored. But as a people we have to be ashamed that after all these years of oppression at the hands of Caucasians, we have turned it around and instead of healing the sick, the wounded, the down-trodden, we now wage war on the very institution which has helped maintain the last of our blood pressure and kept our souls from escaping the unhabitable environment of a devastated body.

To contemplate sacking all the doctors who make up the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors is nothing short of desecrating a shrine. The outcome can be ominious for Nigeria. The proponents of this idea are better served by shifting their focus on a more constructive and nation-building agendum, rather than embarking on a catastrophic project which will end up destroying our society like an avalanche. This is not the route to follow. This is not a prescribed approach to settle employer-employee dispute. It is infra dignitatum that the Federal Government of Nigeria would allow this issue to degenerate to this point where it seems the country has run out of options and the only panacea becomes an autocratic processs which does not reflect in any form or shape the doctrines of democracy which we preach from pulpits in ASO Rock and beyond.

A negotiation for better condition of service is a legitimate constitutional right of any citizenry. And so a government that infringes on this right has violated the very foundations of its existence. The question then becomes: Can Nigeria continue in this direction? By acting through the ministry of health, it becomes clear that this impending effort to sack resident doctors is being orchestrated by the executive branch of government with the Minister of health being privy to these machinations.

The preemptive step taken by NARD to seek court injunction restraining the "Claws of the Tiger", can only be palliative. The mere intent to do away with these professionals has brought a dark cloud over the Nigerian morale. I was here at one stage and witnessed first hand the spirit of the Nigerian doctor, his heart even in the worst of times, his zeal to wade through troubled waters even with bare hands. I was here not long ago and I know what it is like to practice medicine in Nigeria. You must be ready to move a mountain. In most cases you may be required to turn stone into bread.

It is an affront on the State if there should arise a moment in time when individuals in high places will abandon the tenets of democracy for which a civil war was fought, lives lost, hopes dashed and reborn, only to embrace the self-serving posture of a dictatorship. It is an ill wind that blows nobody good.