For Nigerian Doctors; To serve Nigeria is by force





A society full of sinners judging sinners for sinning differently...


Nigeria is a country where everybody is right, and everybody is wrong, it is a nation where when I am right, you must be wrong, we take decisions without critical thinking or analysis and when we do, we do it devoid of the learning and sharing perspective, there is hardly a middle ground, we have no consensus regarding what is wrong or a moral compass. It could be right on Monday and for Festus, and wrong on Tuesday for Ibrahim, it all depends.


While many think it is a joke, trust me when I say that there is a context, we live in a country of one week, one trouble, a country that even prides in manufacturing its own problem when there is none.


This admonition is for the leadership of the next administration but as well as more importantly for the incoming 10th Assembly, a parlour or better a village square that has grown the reputation of sitting without the villagers, and often without the elders’ council. Nigerians wake up weekly to hear that there is a bill at the third, fourth and final reading, we are almost never aware of the origin, and first reading of such bills.


But again, how many Nigerians care and how much do we care…after all to serve Nigeria in the last few decades is no longer by force. But for the sake of many of us patriots it must be ‘by force’.


After the above introduction, a long one at that let me set the tone…if one interrogates the cost of education in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, it is amongst the cheapest in the world, as of 2019, the average bachelor's program was N81.5 thousand naive that’s just a little above $120 while one must consider exclusive things like accommodation, transport, and miscellaneous like books and more.


When I say more let me explain in this manner, you will pay acceptance fee, ID card fee, library fees and sports fees, medicals, things like ICT registration, caution deposit, hall levy, alumni, students handbook, SUG fees, security levy, faculty dues, and departmental dues. I have exempted what medical students pay…such as lab fees, referral fees, science this and science that.


The fallacy of free tuition in public universities is a farce, the cost is high for a nation that has never spent 10% on education and teachers largely on strike at every interval. I won’t dabble into private universities and state-owned schools.


But with all these fees, our tuition still is relatively low, and with this in mind, legislators in their wisdom believed that passing a bill to mandate doctors to practise in Nigeria for at least five years before moving abroad if they want to. How did we arrive at this point, did we improve the conditions of service, what happens if I train and refuse to practice how will the law be applied?


Then logically what is about doctors, are lawyers not leaving, bankers are all and ‘japa-ing’.


I will tell us this strange (and untrue) case of the lawyer convicted of arson for smoking cigars to further nail the point I am running around about for—


A lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina, bought a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire. A month later, after smoking all the cigars, he filed a claim against the insurance company, claiming that the cigars had been destroyed "in a series of small fires". Naturally, the insurance company refused to pay, arguing that he had consumed the cigars in the normal way. The lawyer sued and won. The judge concluded that, on the wording of the policy, the insurance company was liable - it had failed to limit its liability by defining what would amount to an "unacceptable fire".


The company, rather than incur the costs of appeal, paid up $15,000, whereupon it reported the lawyer to the police. He was arrested and subsequently convicted on 24 counts of arson - intentionally burning insured property - and sentenced to two years' imprisonment and a fine.


Nigeria and our lawmakers are like this lawyer, they think they have it figured out…they remind me of the teacher that asked his class the simple question: the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.


Student one answered, fake numbers, another screamed, it is only a theorem, and yet another insisted it is a right-angle conspiracy. Yet from the back of the class, a student said it was an Illuminati. Another informed the class that Pythagoras recanted on his deathbed; answers were still coming as another screamed further proof that triangles were built by ancient aliens. While one nagged, he was entitled to his own opinion.


Do you trust mainstream mathematics, don’t tell me what you think but this is how Nigeria is run, everyone is an expert on every topic, and now those we elected as representatives believe that for five years doctors must serve Nigeria, we lack critical thinking.


The way we jump onto a matter when it is trending often reveals our inability to think critically in resolving issues that plague the Nigerian state. Doctors are leaving, so also are lecturers, teachers, lawyers, bank professionals, athletes, IT professionals, young Nigerians are leaving. Nigeria, her leaders, and Nigerians are not yet sure what they want, today we are fixated on doctors, we have not dealt with the real issues, have not addressed our systems, structures and those that work it. Doctors stay, they don't stay, to serve or not to serve—Only time will tell.