NURSES AND 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS, WHO DESERVES OUR VOTES? – Oluwatosin K. Odunayo
Which of the presidential candidates has promising manifestoes for nurses and our patients and who exactly deserves our votes? Sounds awkward right?
Here, Fellow Nurses Africa will be setting out some of what we should know.
|Who’s the next Nigerian president?|
As the general elections approach, the public are faced with making a decision that will determine the fate of our country, our debilitating healthcare system and our future.
For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) embarked on an industrial action for close to 2 months under the present administration where extreme paralysis and prostration greeted the nation’s healthcare system before they were coerced to call the strike off under the guise of alternative dispute resolution’s negotiations. 6 months after, nothing has changed, not even the reasons for the strike action. As a matter of fact, the striking workers were denied their salaries for the period the strike lasted further exposing the over utilized and under paid nurses to economy deprivation. Nurses who are the majority members of JOHESU will never forget this in a hurry.
|Results of the presidential opinion poll conducted by Fellow Nurses Africa|
On the 31st of July this year, Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo had through his twitter handle released a video portraying the Nigerian nurses as saucy, wicked, and the enemy of progress among other healthcare professionals in a video that was intended to sensitize the public about patients’ bills of right. This act, bereft of intellectual sagacity especially one associated with the person of the Vice President and the office did not go down well with Nigerian nurses and various attempts were made at the Vice President to pull down the video from his twitter handle but all proved abortive. With that singular act, one may wonder if the number 2 citizen of our dear country lacks orientation as to the roles and responsibilities of a nurse or the video was a deliberate attempt to further denigrate the already battered public image of the Nigerian nursing profession. Without doubt, 2019 general elections may just be a payback time for the nurses to massively vote President Buhari and Yemi Osinbanjo out of office. Nigerian nurses are the largest workforce in the health sector and currently need a President that will reposition the Nigerian health sector for the healthcare workers and their patients in terms of healthy policies, infrastructural developments and adequate funding amongst others.
|President Buhari’s policy on health|
Taking a critical look at the policy documents of the two major contenders, President Muhamadu Buhari and his excellency, Atiku Abubakar, while the former emphasizes on establishing health insurance for all Nigerians and N- Power medic (a process of attracting young doctors with monthly stipends to stay in the rural areas), the later focuses on addressing the shortage of Nurses and doctors, reducing medical tourism, expanding healthcare professionals to the front line and attracting Nigerian doctors in diaspora to reverse brain drain amongst others.
It is worrisome that none of these two is addressing the major problems of Nigerian health sector which is under funding, mismanagement and incessant strike actions that have made the health care industry a shadow of itself.
One may wonder why this writeup is streamlined to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidates when there are many others who seem to have all the solutions to the present predicaments of our dear nation. The likes of Omoyele Sowore, Fela Durotoye, Donald Duke, Obi Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu and others. It is imperative to note that except the unexpected happens, either the All Progressives Congress or the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party will emerge winner of the 2019 presidential polls.
Taking cognizance of this, who then deserves our votes?
Despite all political parties publishing their beautiful manifestos in the lead up to the 2019 polls, there’s no obligation for the winning party to follow through on any of the promises they have made ( more than half of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 election promises were not fulfilled ) and this is where campaign promises cannot always provide the answer.
Politicians and analysts need to answer the questions of over costing , budgets, details and most importantly the way these policies would be implemented. Massive underfunding of the health sector and mismanagement over the past decade have led us to where we are today and that can not be changed overnight regardless of which government is elected.
Ultimately, the only way our health sector can thrive with resultant decrease in brain drain, medical tourism, maternal and child mortality as well as increase in wages and allowances of the health care workers is through adequate funding of the sector. Any candidate with a master plan to do this should be given a chance.
Therefore as Nurses, we must strategically use our votes to make a strong political statements in the forthcoming elections across the states of the federation.
Edited by Ogunleye Ayodeji