‘Saudi pays Nigerian medicine professors N6m monthly salary, FG pays N420,000’

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A Nigerian professor, Mike Ogirima has blamed the mass exodus of workers in the health sector to other countries on poor pay by the Nigerian government.

The former President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) said Saudi Arabia pays Nigerian professors of medicine between five to six million naira as monthly salary while the Federal Government pays their counterparts in the country the sum of N420, 000.

Ogirima revealed that some of the professors are even paid up to seven million naira per month in Saudi Arabia while in Nigeria, the highest they are paid is less than N500,000 per month.

The Professor of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery stressed that the Federal Government is responsible for the massive brain drain in the health sector, lamenting that the situation is getting worse.

Ogirima disclosed this during an interview with PUNCH newspaper while speaking about the ongoing strike by doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors.

He expressed concern over the government’s incessant failure to fulfil its part of the agreement reached with doctors as well as other labour unions.

Ogirima said, “The strike is causing a lot of brain drain. We are losing our doctors. About two weeks ago, 150 doctors interested in practicing in the United Kingdom wrote their clinical exams.

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“I know many professors of my type that have secured employment with Saudi Arabia and they are paying them on the average, five million to six million naira per month.

“But here in Nigeria, the Federal Government pays them the sum of N420, 000 per month. How will a professor survive with N420, 000 monthly, a professor of medicine?

“There are great offers in Saudi Arabia and some of our professors are even paid up to seven million per month.

“But we have chosen to be here; everybody can’t move. It is not that we are not as bright as those who have moved, but we have chosen to stay. There are so many reasons that hold some of us here.”

Continuing, the former NMA president said, “There is a big problem in the health system. The problem is that the government cannot motivate the workforce. That is a failure on the government. The professionals that you have, you are playing with them.

“You are paying legislatures huge hazard allowance per month and you are just giving doctors N5000. That is injustice in the system

“For example, the plan by the Federal Government to place doctors in academia on Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure from the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure has caused a lot of problems in the health sector already.

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“That singular decision has caused a lot of senior doctors to move out of the country.”

Recall that the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria had last week planned to go on strike from Monday over the Federal Government’s decision to place its members on the Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure from the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure.

But the Federal Government had on Saturday moved to avert the planned strike by the MDCAN.

The development followed a directive by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, to the National Salaries Income and Wages, to halt MDCAN’s placement on the Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure from the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure which was complied with on Saturday.

The MDCAN comprised senior doctors, who are medical consultants that teach and guide the resident doctors in their professional operation towards becoming specialists and consultants in their area of specialisation.

This is coming as the three-week-old industrial action embarked upon by the NARD has led to the shutdown of hospitals across the country.

On the impasse between NARD and the Federal Government, Ogirima pleaded with the striking doctors and their employer to negotiate and discuss how to resolve the ongoing issues of the resident doctors.

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He said, “They should try and narrow the gap, patients are suffering. The Federal Government has gone into agreement with the resident doctors and with other professionals. But how far has the government implemented such an agreement? The trust of the resident doctors in the Federal Government is no longer there.

“The no-work-no-pay clause has been there; of course the resident doctors are prepared for that. It’s like you marched an animal to slaughter and you are expecting the animal at the abattoir to be scared of the knife again.

“I think the minister should mellow down on the choice of words he is using. The resident doctors are mature enough and you can’t win a war by threatening. The minister should be more diplomatic in handling this issue.”

NARD had on August 2 began a nationwide industrial action over unpaid salaries, benefits to families of members that lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, poor hazard allowances, and failure to domesticate the Medical Residency Training Act 2017 in states, among others.

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