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 Irresponsible government begets ‘Irresponsible’ doctors and labour unions

By Dr Paul John
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Dear Governor Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai,

Anybody versed in Nigerian politics should not be surprised at your recent derogatory and unguarded statement against the organised labour and the Nigerian medical doctors. I came to know you better when you publicly told us that ‘Buhari was perpetually un-electable’ just because you were then dining and wining with his opponents in power but today you are the closest ally to the same man you once insulted publicly because he is now at the helm of our national affairs just like your colleague in Kogi state who had the effrontery to assume the role of the de facto ‘Senior Special Assistant to Mr President on Media Affairs’ hence he not only replied but also countered the fatherly advice by the revered Conference of Catholic Bishops of Nigeria(CCBN) to Mr President, even when civil servants in his state were committing suicide and medical doctors were starving .The organised labour on March 9th,2018 after listening to your recent statement , wittingly described you as an embarrassment to public office in Nigeria, describing you as anti-people and a chameleon. I am aware that if it were General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, who you equally insulted in 2010 ,were in power today,you would of course be wining and dining with him same way you are doing now with Mr President. I understand in elementary biology that a chameleon changes its colour according to its present surroundings in order to evade predators or catch its preys. That is one of the ways of political survival in this country, keep it up as politicians who told us one thing or the other in the past are currently singing a different political song.

To keep the records straight, while you were speaking with Daily Sun in Abuja at the Leadership independence conference organized by the Leadership Newspaper on Nigeria at 50, you canvassed the enthronement of a new generation of leaders. Let me quote exactly what you said at the conference:

“I have great respect for President Babangida. I think he has done a lot for Nigeria. You won’t take that from him. He has made his mistakes like every human being, but people like President Babangida and General Buhari should just disappear. They should give way to a new set of people with new ideas. Young people preferably,”

You went ahead to say that: ‘ The whole world is now being ruled by young people and wondered why old blood should continue to rule Nigeria. “Obama is 48 and Cameron is 43 for God’s sake. So, why are we recycling leaders that ruled this country very well or very badly 25 years ago?,” you queried. “I was 25 years old when Buhari and Babangida were Heads of State and I am now 50 and they still want to be Head of State. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand that at all and I call on the young people of Nigeria to take their future into their hands and ensure that in the next election, they vote for a new generation of leaders.

“I think that we will not make progress until we break the link from the past and just move on. 70 per cent of Nigerians are below the age of 40. Many of these young people, the next generation, as they are called, are on internet services such as Facebook and twitter, using Blackberry and if you ask any of these people running for presidency, they will think that Blackberry is a fruit. So, we have to move away from there and stop thinking that this leadership thing is all about us or all about individuals.

We must put the future of the country at heart and give way to a new generation of leadership.”

While declaring that the nation had something to celebrate for remaining united as one country despite fighting a civil war, El-Rufai, however, said there was a lot to reflect about. “As we look towards the next 50 years, I think the principal issue in Nigeria has been the failure of leadership. We have not made the progress that our human and natural resources entitled us to make and it is all because we have failed leaders,” you noted.

However ,when Generals Mohammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida independently responded to all the allegations you levelled against them , you went ahead to reply them as thus:Since Babangida libelled whole generations of Nigerian youth as being unfit for leadership, age has become an issue in the coming elections. While it is true that neither youth nor age supplies wisdom on their own, it makes sense to ask those who have been recurring decimals in our country’s sorry history to leave the stage. That is all El-Rufai asked of these men who seem to think that their failure to do their best for Nigeria when they had the chance qualifies them for a return to office. Our people surely deserve better.

You were amazed that General Buhari could not debate this matter without scurrying to the gutter, making claims that were baseless and unsupported by any facts. You wished to remind General Buhari that he had remained perpetually un-electable because his record as military head of state, and afterwards, was a warning that many Nigerians had wisely heeded. His insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus were already well-known. You reminded us that inIn 1984, Buhari allowed 53 suitcases belonging to his ADC’s father to enter Nigeria unchecked at a time the country was exchanging old currency for new. Against all canons of legal decency, he used retroactive laws to execute three young men for drug-peddling after they were convicted by a military tribunal and not regular courts of law. Buhari was so high handed that he gave himself and his officials immunity even from truthful reporting. That obnoxious Decree 4, against which truth was no defence, was used to jail journalists and attempt to cow the media as a whole. That tyrannical legislation shows the essence of his intolerance. These are facts of recent history.

To this end, I want to specially thank the General Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, who immediately reacted to your recent derogatory statement . He said that the Congress was not surprised by what was credited to the governor because he had been an anti-labour person with penchant for breaking the labour laws of the land. The country has a better moral standing than the likes of el-Rufai who has demonstrated that he is not fit to hold public office or political position. He is an embarrassment to public office in Nigeria. He speaks out of both sides of the mouth. He always changes position for his personal aggrandizement. This is the same el-Rufai who once gate-crashed into one of NLC’s protests and pleaded to have NLC apron to be part of the protest.” If there are people in the world I take their words with a pinch of salt ,I think you are one of them.

Dear Governor,Can an irresponsible father give birth to a responsible son? Both the labour unions and medical doctors you insulted are products of government’s irresponsibility. To your likes, if the citizens or any unions flout court orders or agreements, it is a treasonable felony, contempt of the court and an act of terrorism but when the government flagrantly and irresponsibly flouts court orders and reneges on agreements with the labour unions or the medical doctors ,it becomes an administrative strategy necessary to protect the government. Your APC central government stylishly increased the petrol pump price to N145 from the N97 (N87) per litre you guys met it when you assumed power in 2015. As that was not enough, from December last year, the price was further increased to its present price of N170-N200 per litre as seen in different petrol stations.

Instead of accepting being failures in government, and honourably ask the minister of Petroleum who appointed himself, screened himself without the Senate’s interference and regularly reports to himself, to simply resign his position and leave that post for a younger and more vibrant citizen as you proposed in 2010 to save Nigerians from more embarrassment and hardship,but you are here insulting people who have been frustrated and pushed to the wall by your APC government. The blame game continues as your APC government keeps on blaming the independent petroleum marketers for the hike in the price of the product while many NNPC Mega stations do not have the product at least to vindicate you guys’ claims. As the price of petrol was increased, it never occurred to your APC government that the minimum wage of workers should also be increased in the light of the current economic realities in the country.

What irresponsibility is greater than a scenario where the government wasted the time of medical doctors or organised labour unions or any other trade union on the guise of a round-table discussion, thereafter an agreement was reached but at the end of the day your APC government reneged on her promises? Reminders were sent to them but they all turned a deaf ear. When the Workers who had been pushed to the wall finally embarked on a strike, your likes would label them as irresponsible. The most embarrassing is the fact that you quoted the Hippocratic Oath without knowing the contents of the new Hippocratic Oath. It may interest you to know that the World Medical Association(WMA) in 2017 having seen the sufferings of her members in third world countries like ours, which they never envisaged while adopting the Declaration of Vernice in 1948,has finally modified the Hippocratic Oath because the drafters of the old Hippocratic Oath never envisaged that there would be some countries like ours where the government would be irresponsible to her citizens ,including her civil servants,medical doctors and her youths. Those who were frustrated by the same government’s irresponsibility would resort to kidnapping the medical doctors and other fellow citizens who were also victims of the government’s irresponsibility.

In the newly modified Hippocratic Oath, we now have a stanza that says that: I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard. Now, tell me how a doctor will attend to his health ,well being and abilities when your APC government believes that the salary doctors were paid when the petrol pump price was N97 will remain same now that the product sells at N145 or N170-N200 per liter? I don’t want to talk about the doctors working in some APC states that their irresponsible governments owe many months’ salaries and some state governments even had the temerity to ask the doctors and other civil servants to forget their unpaid salaries as a way of helping the states.Such request is highly imprudent . How do you want the doctors to provide care of the highest order when your APC government has decided not to provide the necessary diagnostic and therapeutic equipment in our hospitals .The issue of 24-hours power supply in our hospitals is clearly impossible for your APC government and you had the mind to describe our doctors and other workers as irresponsible. What irresponsibility is greater than a country where the government cannot protect the lives and properties of her citizens ? If it is not herdsmen somewhere,it will be terrorists the other place, with other incessant crises here and there and each of these crises lives must be lost and properties worth millions of Naira carted away or destroyed.

To travel from Port Harcourt in Rivers state to my state capital, Umuahia in Abia state, I encountered 23 checkpoints respectively manned by the military,the police and other paramilitary forces,slowing down the traffic and at same time increasing the transit time for people’s journeys but Dapchi girls were abducted, the kidnappers and the victims never encountered any checkpoints from the scene of the crime till their final destination,please tell me a better story! That is one of the features of a ‘responsible’ government which sends more security forces to the less terrorism -prone states of Southeast and South-south to the detriment of the terrorism-prone Northeast part of the country. Under your APC ‘responsible’ government ,Nigerians now freely and voluntarily commit suicide,the government decides which court order to obey or not,Right to Freedom of Expression as contained in S.39 of the Nigeria’s constitution,as amended, is now an Act of treason.Innocent citizens and Non-APC members can be picked up any time of the day and perpetually held in the prison even if the court order says otherwise.

What irresponsibility is greater than government officials travelling abroad for medical tourism when they claim to have refurbished and equipped all our hospitals? What irresponsibility is greater than our Power Holding Company having sound-proof generating sets in their offices because they do not trust their own power supply even when all Solar power firms elsewhere in the world refused to either be connected to their national grid or have any generating sets because they are sure of the energy they claim to produce? Can one give what one does not have? What irresponsibility is greater than the head of our National Universities Commission (NUC) having his children studying abroad? What irresponsibility is greater than our much respected Aso Rock clinic not having syringes and basic hospital consumables? Have you seen any responsible president who left his country and traveled abroad for medical attention,staying there for months while his country was at the verge of going into flames and when he finally returned to the country he told us about some of our speeches that had crossed the national red-lines as if we never knew of the threat of your party telling the then president Goodluck Jonathan that after 2015 you guys would form a parallel government? What red-line speech is greater than the threat that dogs and baboons would be soaked in blood if your party lost in 2015 elections? What irresponsibility is greater than the government refusing to pay her workers in some states? My dear if anybody, organisation, union et cetera should be irresponsible, it is your APC government ,which has lost the goodwill of the people and I need not remind you that when a salt loses its savour,it will be thrown outside in 2019 election to be trodden by men.

By Dr Paul John ,[email protected],08083658038

Port Harcourt ,Rivers state

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