The Man Jide Idris.... An "Evil Genius"?
The of the term "Evil Genius" in our clime is somewhat legendary. The phrase is more commonly applied to General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida....a coinage invented by the men of the pen in Nigeria....for his awesome propensity to proffer "baffling" solutions through "baffling" moves in "Maradonic" styles in a manner that often left his observers bewildered and dumbstruck!
I desist from citing instances this time around. I propose that we leave that for another day...
Our mediamen are rare masters in the art of phraseology. Aren't they?
And there exists this particular fellow in the Lagos State cabinet. A male medical doctor. His mastery of bureaucratic and political moves would suggest that he somehow benefitted from IBB's mentorship. Only he can confirm or refute that suggestion as I do not know for certain.
If indeed he was mentored by Babangida, the cunning general's head must be swollen with pride by now! For there is nothing as gratifying as having an apprentice surpass the trainer in the trade he taught him!
Jide Idris' ascendency to the office of Commissioner of Health in Lagos State of Nigeria coincided with the beginning of the Fashola administration.
Things were initially rosy between him and the health community. But this cordial relation soon gave way to severe acrimony brought out of conflicts of interest between the state administration and health professionals especially the doctors.
Doctors' tendencies to embark on frequent strikes for reasons deemed frivolus by the state was a veritable source of worry....and cause of fury....to the government!
Equally annoying to the doctors is the tendency of the government to renege on agreements duly signed and stamped by both parties....devoid of coersion! This irritant somehow assumed a state of permanence as doctors wondered at the love of a whole govt to act so dishonorably.
Matters got to a head when strikes lasting several months crippled the entire health system of the state. Govt initially appealed to doctors. No dice! Government embargoed fresh medical appointments....including residency placings. Still doctors would not budge! Then Ebola came and govt thought it could capitalize on the disease outbreak to blackmail doctors into rushing back to work without thrashing the issues on ground. Doctors still remained adamant! Government then issued a policy statement of "no work, no pay".
But doctors still maintained their ground....their anger further fueled by the double standards adopted by government in dealing with apparently identical issues among health cadres. Why would govt soft-pedal when nurses et al are "throwing tantrums" but adopt this unbending posture when the "whining" is from the doctors, doctors querried!Why would a doctor in govt bureaucracy work so assiduously to undermine the dignity of his own profession, you would wonder. But this is no ordinary scuffle!
It was...and still is....a ferrocious battle of survival between Idris and the doctors. For the former, his job secures his livelihood....ditto the doctors. And battles of survival can be downright dirty!
So Idris finally came up with the joker....to casualize his own profession by employing only "locum doctors"....translate part-time doctors!
A deft move!
But what does this bode for healthcare delivery in the state?
Doctors are disenchanted. Want to trust your life in the hands of a disgruntled doctor? Doctors are also emigrating in huge numbers chiefly to the middle east, Asia and the Americas!
Fashola easily keyed into the schemings...naturally....propelled by his ingrained lawyer instinct to downsize the medical cadre....and more exactly...by the desperation to stamp down his authority as the man truly in charge of affairs! Idris appears to have won the battle....but the "war"?
Whoever emerges the final victor in this senseless war is immaterial....as only the citizenry....the proverbial grass...would suffer!
Dr Tosin Akindele is a Lagos-based Medical Practitioner, a former Secretary of AGPMPN Ikorodu zone, a former Secretary of the Quackery Committee of AGPMPN Lagos State Branch, founder of Analytical Minds, a good health advocate and public affairs analyst.