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Ngige’s grandstanding, resident doctors’ strike and the death of my cousin

Ngige’s grandstanding, resident doctors’ strike and the death of my cousin
August 23
13:29 2021

Many Nigerians, who are supposed to be alive today, have died untimely due to the niggling battle between the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the federal government of Nigeria.

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I am a victim of a cataclysmic death of a loved one that could have been prevented, but some set of carelessly hubristic individuals in high places chose to leave me bereaved without apology.

I lost my cousin in Abuja this August. Edoh was down with Hepatitis B and admitted to the General Hospital in Gwagwalada, Abuja. He was receiving treatment and gradually recovering, only for resident doctors to down tools, resume strike, and leave him at the mercies of his helpless wife and three sons who are all below the age of nine.

A few days after the strike started, he, among other patients were forcefully discharged and asked to vacate the facility to look for medical attention elsewhere. His troubled wife was befuddled and left with no choice but to take her husband away for treatment elsewhere.

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His condition started deteriorating. He was asked to come to the village so they can seek local traditional help, maybe mother-luck will shine on him. The arrangement was made, and after a few days, he was taken to the village.

After a rigorous road trip from Abuja to Benue state, they arrived at about 5 pm on August 8 and a fatigued Edoh went to sleep after taking his drugs. That night, he died before 12 midnight.

This is just one of the many cases of deaths caused by the resident doctors’ strike. The faceoff between NARD and the federal government led to the demise of my cousin and many other Nigerians unreported. While the two so-called elephants continue to fight, sick Nigerians who are not financially buoyant to fly abroad, pay the ultimate price.

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Nigeria is a country that does not value human lives, our leaders are wired to fight over mundane things, they’ll rather arrogantly ignore things of public interest to embark on a trophyless battle that in the end, the losses always outweighs the gain. I wish Edoh and all Nigerians who are down with one sickness or disease can take a medical trip to London on government money and return when they feel better, just like the president does on taxpayers’ money.

I wish, like the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, all Nigerians can afford medical bills anywhere in the world so as to get the best treatment and live as old as they could. Ngige, a medical doctor himself who is supposed to fight for the welfare of his colleagues, is the same one toying with the health and lives of Nigerians.

Ngige will rather spend money to take NARD to court than meet the demands of the resident doctors and save the lives of innocent citizens who have been dying since August 2 when the strike resumed. He has even threatened them with a no-work no-pay rule.

Nothing is working in this country, security outfits are not securing lives, the health sector is not saving lives, education is in shambles, while politics is full of corruption.

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I even heard an unconfirmed report that most, if not all, the orthopedic surgeons at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) including the Head of Department, have all resigned and left the country for practice in Saudi Arabia.

Health minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, recently issued a warning in Abuja at the induction ceremony for 879 foreign-trained medical practitioners, comprising 862 medical doctors and 17 dentists.

The federal government cautioned the newly inducted foreign-trained medical and dental graduates against joining strikes that can interrupt their postings.

It said erring doctors would not only be made to repeat their housemanship but would also forfeit financial benefits associated with the programme if they join any strike. But Ehanire ignored the fact that if workers are not owed their dues, they would not have to go on strike.

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Come to think of it, why would someone work and not get paid? A labourer deserves his wage. Paying someone who has worked is not a favour, it is a right that must be respected. The doctors have insisted the strike will continue and they have every reason to.

“Strike continues. If someone has not been paid for 19 months or 4 months won’t the person be hungry? How will you survive? You are aware that hunger kills more people than covid-19, in Nigeria, things are more difficult and we cannot meet our basic needs,” said the national president of NARD, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi.

In the past 18 months, the world is in a frangible situation where COVID-19 has claimed over 4.5 million lives globally, and 2,268 people in Nigeria’s death record. At a time responsible countries are not resting on their oars in managing the hard times of the COVID-19 third wave, Nigeria is wisecracking with everything.

This is not funny, people are dying, they have resorted to self-help. Feeding is difficult, medical help is absent, while the Nigerian government is watching its citizens die.

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The strike must come to an end and be avoided going forward, workers must be paid and on time, and things must go on sanely. We are not cursed, let’s behave like human beings and save the dying ones, while also keeping the healthy ones safe.

Ojoko is a Nigerian journalist and can be reached via [email protected]

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