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Politics

Brain Drain, Medical Tourism and the President’s Foreign Trips

Coming on the heels of the recent controversial statement made by the Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, that Nigeria has a surplus supply of medical doctors, President Buhari on Thursday, April 25th headed to London on one of his frequent visits. Ngige went ahead to claim that it is good for Nigerian medical professionals to seek higher education and qualification in Europe and America.

What Ngige may in fact not want to accept as reality is that many of these professionals seeking qualification abroad do so as to escape the hellish conditions of working in Nigeria.

However, in a rather strange twist, it is now known that the president has travelled to the UK up to ten times in four years and spent up to a total of more than twelve months abroad since the beginning of the administration in May 2015, mostly for medical reasons.

Sources from the presidency have, however, claimed that the visit to the UK is a private visit, yet they provide no specific details as if the president has no constitutional responsibility to be accountable to the people. Media aides to the president have also since the Ngige gaffe insisted that the president can even conduct national business from anywhere in the world without necessarily handing over fully to the Vice President as Acting President, in the President’s absence. It seems, after all, that the aberration, desecration and abuse of the national intellect would not end anytime soon.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there are just 370 medical doctors to every 10,000 Nigerians – which remains far below the minimum recommended for a country. It is also established that up to 50,000 Nigerian doctors work abroad constituting a whopping 50% of Nigeria-trained doctors practicing abroad. Whereas, the president is not ready to see that his frequent visits to his UK doctors is not unconnected to the shortage and brain drain of experienced and expertly doctors leaving Nigeria everyday.

In a similar vein, in 2017 alone, the president spent a cumulative of 154 days to treat an undisclosed illness in London. Running the government literally had to pause, as the necessary full powers to act as president were not granted to Vice President Osinbajo then. And quite a number of decisions made by Osinbajo were also reversed when Buhari arrived Nigeria.

President Buhari is certainly not one hundred percent fit for the rigour which handling a complex country such as Nigeria entails. Yet, he was re-elected into the number one office in the federation, in the last elections. Although this current private visit is expected to last only for 10 days, who knows how many more days away from office the president is going to spend abroad and on needless foreign trips in his second term?

Nigerians know and are certain that if our own medical and other institutions are working and functioning optimally, the president and other citizens who fly abroad on medical tourism would not have had to desperately embark on such wasteful trips. We are certain that if the economic condition of professionals and individuals working in diverse industries in the economy is guaranteed, this crop of smart people may not have thought about moving out of the country in droves.

It is high time we raise our voices in unison, and not only condemn this constant abuse of position but should also demand for an accountability which definitely improves the lives of the citizens constantly seeking to emigrate from Nigeria en masse.

Featured image source: Ships & Ports

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Adedoyin Tella

Adedoyin is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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