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RRBN: Don’t Start A War You Cannot Finish

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Recently, a hospital in Abuja was allegedly closed down by Radiographers’ Registration Board of Nigeria (RRBN).Initially, I did not believe that such an illegal operation, of closing down a hospital by a body which does not have such constitutional power, was true until it was reported by different media firms. My question is, why is it that it is only the Nigerian medical doctors that are at the receiving end at all times? When has studying or practising medicine in Nigeria become a crime?

If it is not our resident pathologists being physically assaulted in their places of work by their supposed co-workers in the laboratories, it will be an amorphous union called JOHESU in the health sector challenging whatever NMA says or does. It is still fresh in our memories how JOHESU opposed NMA’s clarion call that Public officers should be barred from medical tourism abroad.

When NMA called for the privatization of some services in our hospitals, JOHESU and its affiliate unions/associations opposed it because to them whatever comes from NMA is wrong until proven otherwise. Their hackneyed use of the phrase ‘International best practices’ does not involve the privatisation of some ancillary services of our hospitals in line with what is seen globally.

There are different stages of madness, will I be surprised when they approach the court to differentiate between a radiographer and a radiologist, the same way they once went to the court for the interpretation of the phrase ‘medically-qualified’. Thereafter, the next stage of madness will set in and that will be rushing to the court for the definition of the different parts of a speech such as Nouns, Verbs et cetera.

This is why many universities made it compulsory that for a student to gain admission into the university, that student must have at least a credit in English language but at times that standard may be compromised to fill up a shortfall in the admission list of a particular department in a year.

More so, the nefarious activities of examination ‘miracle centres’ and unemployed graduates who work as ‘mercenaries’ during our external examinations may not allow one to distinguish a candidate that genuinely got a credit in English language unaided from another candidate that acquired it by cash or sexually. The Outcome of such ‘Ojoro’ system of education is the incessant crises in our health sector and frequent litigations with subject-matters that ought not to have gone to the court in the first place. Meanwhile, the lawyers handling such cases smile to the banks while the members of the health union are heavily levied.

That pre-internship Radiographers find it extremely difficult to secure placements for their one year compulsory internship programmes does not matter anything to RRBN or the fact that many post-NYSC Radiographers are at home, is none of their business, what they desperately want is to start a war with radiologists which expectedly will end in lawsuit titled ‘what is the difference between a Radiographer and a Radiologist’?

Upgrading our private diagnostic centres to internship centres as seen in other parts of the globe is none of RRBN’s business but what the leaders want is to teach radiologists what ‘they do not know’. That radiographer, just like other workers in the health sector, are paid a pittance as salaries in our government hospitals unlike their counterparts abroad, is of no concern to RRBN. That many of our hospitals lack the state-of –the-art diagnostic equipment is, of course, immaterial to RRBN all that is preeminent to the registrar and his agents is starting a war they can never finish with Radiologists and by extension all Nigerian doctors because injury to any of us anywhere is injury to all of us everywhere .

That our security agencies accompanied RRBN’s team in that illegal operation is not a surprise to me. If anybody is still surprised or confused on why our security agents accompanied RRBN in that illegal operation then let the person answer the following questions. Who accompanies some trucks loaded with contraband goods to their final destinations in the country? Who allows contraband commodities cross into our borders? Who assigns security details to fraudsters, unscrupulous business men and corrupt politicians? Who accompanies illegal task forces for illegal operations?

Who negotiates a price on phone with a victim-who manages to make a call during an armed robbery operation- as a precondition for coming to his (their) aid? Who collects ‘roger’ from motorists on our roads? Who led the operation in the botched ‘coup d’ etat’ against the then governor of Anambra state, Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige? Was Late AIG Raphael Ige that led that operation from Zone 9 police headquarters in Umuahia to Anambra state government House not a high-ranking security agent? I can go on and on, we just need to know that he who has the money dictates when and how useful our security agents can be. That is what I call ‘pay as you go’ or ‘cash and carry’ security system.

More worrisome is a clause that always appears in all anti-NMA ripostes by either JOHESU or any of its affiliate bodies. The clause is ‘We the members of the above association had the option to ignore such frivolous and incoherent pronouncement of the NMA born out of parochial interest and punishable {under Section 12 of the Radiographers (Inspection and Monitoring Regulations 2005)} however disguised under public interest, but as a responsive association, we have decided to react to the misleading publication of the NMA {against the lawful monitoring activities of the RRBN and her dynamic Registrar and Chief Executive.}'

Check all the ripostes from JOHESU or any of its affiliate bodies, it must contain part of the above clause where they would imply that they did not want to join issues with NMA but at the same time they were the cause of the problem. Another laughable part of the recent crap released by the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Practitioners’ Association was citing of the Act establishing Radiographers’ monitoring team without quoting anyone from that of the Radiologists. To them,’ anybody’ means every human being including those practising in America and other parts of the globe and in order professions.

After going through that crap, it was clearer to me that they were bereft of who a radiologist is and I will not be surprised if they approach the court tomorrow to seek the meaning of Radiology as against Radiography. How will RRBN feel when Imaging technicians and technologists in Nigeria begin to close Diagnostic centres run by radiographers under sections of imaging technicians (technologists} Act which the technicians /technologists do not understand? It has to be noted that our health sector is modelled on that of the UK.

Can Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) in UK regulate the activities of Radiologists who are members of the Royal College of Radiologists? In the Uk, their own HCPC is our own RRBN and their own SCoR is our own ARN (Association of Radiographers of Nigeria). If that is not possible in the UK, how then does RRBN or ARN in Nigeria intend to regulate the practices of our Radiologists who are fellows of one or both of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN) and West African College of Surgeons?

Over the years in my life, I have come to understand that an empty vessel makes the highest noise and the Igbos always say that the dummy is always the first to arrive in the school. Sections of the Act establishing Radiography in Nigeria were cited without knowing the implied meaning. They do not know that every law has a limitation. Can a member of a profession be answerable to another profession’s laws? When the heat will be on, those citing the sections of an Act they do not know the interpretative meaning will go and hide their faces.

For their information, the Medical and Dental Council (MDCN) has a Disciplinary/Investigative pane/tribunal which is in the status of a High Court hence any judgement arising from it can only be contested in the appellate courts. I am aware that the Act establishing Radiography in the country must have a similar panel/tribunal. It is not only illegal but also unconstitutional for a court/tribunal/panel or task force to handle a matter it has no jurisdiction to handle.

When medical doctors take their physicians’ oath, they are bound by that Oath and the Act establishing MDCN hence MDCN deals with any erring member with her own ACT and not an Act establishing Radiography or any other profession in the country. If not the rabid hatred other healthcare professionals have for the Nigerian medical doctors, what prevents RRBN from writing to MDCN informing her of the alleged encroachment of a Radiologist’s practice into their profession and wait for MDCN’ next line of action? Taking the laws into their own hands under some sections of their Act they do not understand, is criminal and amounts to Self Help even if they bribe all the security agents to accompany them, and s.22 of our Criminal Code does not accept ignorance of the law as an excuse.

In any war, it is the followers of the warlords that suffer and not the warlords who dish out instructions from the comfort of their bedrooms/offices. The death tolls from the Nigerian-Biafra civil war are still fresh in our memories but nothing happened to any of the warlords. I want to remind the leaders of RRBN that unlike what we see in our government hospitals, the fight in the private health sector will be very brief .

NMA will simply have a meeting with all her affiliate bodies and no medical doctor will ever accept any result done in a centre that does not have a Radiologist as the head. By so doing, all these diagnostic centres owned by radiographers will have no other alternative than to employ the services of Radiologists as their bosses, failure of which they will pack up. At that point they will understand that the patient goes to the hospital to see the doctor and the doctor sends the patient to any investigation he deems necessary. No law enacted or yet to be enacted in Nigeria will ever make a doctor to accept any result from a centre he does not like or doubts their competencies.

I will simply warn RRBN not to create more problems to their members in the private sector who are trying to survive even when the same RRBN does not have any programme aimed at helping their members in the private. In the second part of this write up, I will didactically teach RRBN and all her affiliate associations the duties of a Radiologist and why RRBN has no business with the practice of a radiologist.

Meanwhile, I ‘specially’ invite the RRBN team to extend their illegal monitoring operation to our family hospital ,let me use them to teach other Nigerian doctors how s.33(2a) of our Nigerian constitution ( as amended) empowers us to defend ourselves and properties against unlawful violence ,and at the end of the day I will still take RRBN to court for civil lawsuit where compensations in form of damages will be awarded in my favour such that the revenues RRBN generates from issuance and renewing of licences and the subvention it receives from the Federal Ministry of Health over a ten year period will not be enough to service the damages to be awarded by the law-court.

Dr Paul John
Port Harcourt, River state,[email protected],08083658038

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Articles by Paul John