Thugs or Doctors: NMA and Another Challenged System

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Thugs or Doctors: NMA and Another Challenged System
Nwolu Obiajulu

It would seem a familiar scene in Nigeria to witness a squabble and exchange of punches in a motor park. But the events that took place at Michael Okpara Square in Enugu on Thursday took a different dimension, as medical doctors who ought to be life savers ended up injuring one another.

The case of Nigeria can best be related to that of a patient with varied organ challenges. Nigeria is like a patient whose body system needs urgent medical attention but the physicians who ought to attend to the patient are instead chasing after rats in the bush.

The Enugu State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) made a mockery of the medical profession and lent credence to the urgent need for institutions in Nigeria to be put under intensive care, when it turned its supposed election into leadership positions to a free for all fight which led to injury of varied degree to participants. The fight was as needless as it was thuggish and absurd for men and women of the dignified medical profession to resort to violence to settle grievance in their fold.

The NMA being the professional association for Nigerian doctors and dentists founded in 1951 to regulate and coordinate medical practice in the country did not live up to its reputation in view of the electoral theatrics.

Prior to the election, the association had been embroiled in infighting and tussle between camps for the soul of the association. The crisis had led to the suspension of its Chairman, Dr. Ike Okwesili by a section of the association. The faction named Dr. Onyekachi Ugwuonye, Vice Chairman of NMA as Acting Chairman pending the determination of the alleged misconduct by Okwesili. Also, there was a court injunction before the election which restrained the election from taking place but it went on nonetheless.

The aftermath of the insistence on going ahead to hold the election was a fight, akin to that which thugs exhibit at motor parks only that this time, the actors were different, so was the venue and their dressing. In a society where doctors inflict injuries on themselves during physical attacks, who do they run to afterwards for treatment? Do we now advocate for reversal of roles or relocation of thugs to hospitals while doctors occupy our parks or fly the flag of the country at wrestling or bouncing competitions?

With the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in sight, Nigerian doctors are staking a claim to be considered for a place in team Nigeria. The level at which office aspirants in the country descend to in their quest to grab power calls into question their motive and aspiration for seeking such positions. It is hard to fathom while a public office aspirant would condescend so low and resort to disruption of election process in order to make a point.

If such learned individuals could ignore the court as a medium to resolve conflict, what then do we as a society expect from less learned people. When there was already a subsisting court injunction restraining the conduct of the election, it would have been proper, fitting and ideal in a democratic setting that the actors and aggrieved individuals utilise the instrument of the court to seek for redress rather than take the law into their hands to disrupt the election.

The conduct of the election despite a court order which put it on hold calls to question the integrity of the judicial system. Nigerian court have sometimes been known to contradict itself by offering injunctions to whomever knocked on its doors such that sometimes when there are contradictory orders by courts of equal jurisdiction, it posses a challenge as to which to adhere to. A more organised and coordinated judicial system which melts proportionate fines and sentences to erring individuals is needed for the growth of institutions in Nigeria. With reference to Newton’s third law which says that action and reaction are equal and opposite, for the country to move forward, the judiciary has to rise to the challenge of issuing punishments which are proportionate to the crime of offenders. Perhaps, if the actors who pushed on with the election were mindful of the punishment of the court, they wouldn’t have gone on to organize the election.

Also, the faction which took the law into their hands might not have done so if they had confidence in the judiciary to overturn the process and render justice. There is more to be desired from a judiciary which recently issued N100,000 fine to Naira Marley in Lagos for disregarding a presidential directive on restriction of interstate travels and public gatherings to host a concert at Jabi Lake Mall, despite having received a whole lot more money in payment for the show. The same judiciary would sentence a petty thief to several years behind bars for pickpocketing. This does not in anyway imply justifying crime at any level or by any individual but rather a call for proportionate punishments for offenders.

Nigeria is not in any way new to unorthodox behaviour from its ruling class. Lawmakers have at several points in the past turned out to be lawbreakers. The Federal legislative chamber had at some point rewarded a lawmaker who made away with the maze with a dignified position in the hollowed chamber. Just like praise makes good people better, it equally serves to make bad people worse. If Nigeria continues to treat rot in its institution with kid gloves, the future can only get more bleak.

The Nigeria Medical Association as a body of intellectuals had dented the noble profession and actors who perpetrated the shameful act should be duly investigated and brought to book to help salvage what is left of our institutions and for the sake of the country’s global image. Internet has created a world without borders and the world is keenly watching as Nigeria desecrates and make mockery of its systems. The national leadership of the NMA and the relevant government agencies should be firm in its stance against the ignoble act of our life savers who had transformed to predators.


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