Last week, the National Assembly (NASS), leadership was literally on its knees begging the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to call off their strike.
The doctors had embarked on an industrial action, on August 2, owing to unfulfilled agreements the Nigerian government supposedly had with them.
The strike has persisted but two other stories involving the activities of members of the National Assembly also caught the attention of this writer. Read on.
Begging as official laziness
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, and the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services, Tanko Sununu, on August 4, appealed on NARD to suspend the ongoing strike, and begin negotiations with the Federal Government.
Both spoke at an event organised by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Abuja.
Oloriegbe had said: “…whatever are the issues, can always be resolved through dialogue. So, I join my colleagues to call on the doctors to go back to work while discussions are ongoing to resolve the issues at stake.”
“I am calling on NARD to please look at the situation of the country and call off the strike,” while Sununu pleaded.
Oloriegbe and Sununu’s pleadings are simply escapist and fail woefully to confront and address a present danger.
While calling for a dialogue is not out of place, it is pertinent to rationalize the following issues:
1. If there was no integrity gap, why would doctors proceed on a third strike in eight months? Without a struggle, it is most likely that the Federal Government had failed to keep to its side of the bargain.
2. If dialogue was considered a key element in the management of industrial disputes, why would the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, literarily shut the door against doctors by referring to their strike action as “nonsensical” and threatening to do away with them?
It might be safe to argue that the Minister is probably not thoroughly schooled in the art of negotiations or, perhaps, needs a good dose of emotional intelligence to achieve better.
Begging Nigerian doctors, we dare say, is official laziness and amounts to escapism in the face of government’s serial failures to keep its unforced agreements.
Pitiably, vulnerable Nigerians are now left unattended to while their leaders junket abroad on medical tourism.
Oloriegbe, Sununu and their NASS colleagues should read the handwriting on the wall, and do more than just mere pleading.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“You (EndSARS protesters) have moved a nation to action, and now you must join in doing the hard work of making real the vision of a more just, more prosperous, and more resilient nation…You have raised your voices and marched to demand a better Nigeria. From Abuja to Washington, to Calgary and London, your voices have been heard. Do not allow anybody to convince you that to withdraw from the streets now is to concede defeat?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
Speaking in Abuja as a panellist at the second quarterly public lecture series organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Press Corps, he, among others, said: “What we must do as a people is to address the issue of injustice as a nation, starting from stomach injustice which is called injustice. Number two, every leader that emerges in this country must treat Nigeria as a family, he must never show segregation of any kind.”
Okorocha’s admonitions could not have come at a better time when issues of injustice, fairness and equity are at the front burner of national discourse. Unarguably, those elements have fuelled different agitations.
As an important member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which has been accused of mismanaging the country’s diversity, Okorocha may be hailed as having spoken truth to power.
That said, the former governor of Imo State must learn to lead the way as his public service records have often been queried as seriously lacking in the virtues of justice and equity which he preaches with relish. Any claims to being a shinning example at this moment is hopelessly flawed.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, on August 6, described allegations that he forged his academic certificates as an orchestrated plot to tarnish his image.
Reacting to a suit filed against him by one Okechukwu Ezeala, Kalu said:
“The last I checked, it is within my right to choose how to be addressed and to document it legally as prescribed by law. So, because I changed my surname, it makes my certificates forged certificates. Quite laughable.”
Issues of certificate forgery are not alien to Nigerian politicians. Over the past years, some have been named and shamed, even prosecuted, having being caught.
Therefore, Kalu should be ready to have his day in court, rather than wave away or dismiss the allegations.
While he is innocent until proven guilty, the benefit of allowing the judicial system to prevail is that the rule of law is central to the practice of democracy and the outcomes will always help to strengthen the institutions of state.
Answer: Hon Femi Gbajabiamila
Gbajabiamila made the statement on October 20, 2020, while addressing his fellow legislators, during plenary at the House of Representatives. The statement was directed at #EndSARS protesters. Gbajabiamila is the Speaker of the House of Representatives
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