BETWEEN THE PRO AND THE ANTI JOHESU NURSES: a state of dilemma for Nigerian Nurses and Midwives
By Abu Sofiyyah.
Recent happenings in the joint health sector union (JOHESU) led many nurses and midwives in Nigeria to call for withdrawal of NANNM from this marriage of necessity. There was nothing like JOHESU until the government of Nigeria decided to openly and consciously hand over the health sector to one of the stakeholders in the heath sector – The medical doctors. The government treat one out of many like a king among slaves!!! Since then, these group of professionals that formed JOHESU have always fought a “collective ” battle to press home their demands. Through out these periods of collective struggle by JOHESU, there use to be mutual suspicion and mistrust which can’t be ruled out in any organization or group. The heterogeneous nature of these organization -JOHESU has raised serious concerns and critical observations as to it’s effectiveness, justice and fairness in representation and addressing members’ needs.
This has consequently led to calls from some members of one of the most significant component of JOHESU -that is NANNM , to withdraw her membership from JOHESU. They opined that JOHESU is just relying on nurses’ number, being the largest workforce in the hospital, to press home their individual demands. They see little or no benefit to the union or marriage. Also, they said nurses have not gained anything significant that will warrant our continuous stay in JOHESU. They cite instances to buttress their points. While on the other hands, some disagree strongly for their own reasons too. For example the last strike embarked upon by JOHESU has further strengthen the resolve of those who want NANNM out of the marriage. According to them, NANNM should stand alone! Some however differed on standing alone though they agree to exiting JOHESU, hence suggesting that we align with NMA that doesn’t seems to SINCERELY need us.
Available options for NANNM
With JOHESU, there are problems, and without JOHESU also, definitely there will be problems; if not more. I am not sounding pessimistic but factual. But there are no problems without solutions.
After leaving JOHESU, NANNM will be left with two major options. Firstly, stand alone and fight our course. Secondly, stylishly lobby to join the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA ) because it’s obvious NMA is not in all honesty, missing us. Yes there are calls from few NMA members – some sincerely and some with derision , asking nurses to leave JOHESU.
Either of the above options will come with it’s own challenges. I want us to strongly agree that as it stand today, our marriage with JOHESU should come to an end. Then next, we weigh the merits and demerits of the two options stated above.
JOHESU members too know that NANNM is the soul of JOHESU. The collapse of JOHESU may not be far if we exited as a component.
Possible fears in each options
I don’t know if it’s a universal fact but I do believe that the greatest fear for a man is THE FEAR OF UNKNOWN.
In either of the options, there is the fear of unknown which has made us indecisive. For instance, questions like these do come to minds of those for JOHESU: Can nurses stand alone to fight a battle? Are nurses bold enough to face management of their institutions or even government of their states or nation? When the heat is becoming unbearable in a struggle (April / May salary in my mind), are they ready to remain steadfast or even damn the consequences?
Are nurses as united as other professional bodies when it comes to fighting for a course? Won’t the intra professional bickering serve as a major hurdle?
These are some of the questions begging for answers.
On the other hand, if we stylishly join hand with Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), would they honestly accept us with every sense of altruism? Can we have equal stake in a relationship we are begging to establish? Can we pose same threat to NMA in case of any foul play suspected as we’re currently posing to JOHESU? If the marriage between us and doctors collapse, can we shamelessly go back to our vomit, making us a laughing stock at the end?
The time to employ the critical thinking concept in nursing is now!!!
Delay is dangerous and procrastination they say, is the thief of time. We don’t need to spend years thinking whether to do this or that. Sadly, the other component members of JOHESU have started seeing or suspecting NANNM as a actual or potential saboteur. The fact that NANNM is considering the exit route from JOHESU is an open secret. They are also planning a JOHESU without NANNM. Are we going to miss JOHESU or JOHESU will be the one to miss NANNM? Only time will tell.
The earlier we took the lesser evil out of many, the better. The earlier we saw ourselves as indispensable stakeholders in the health sector, the better. This COVID -19 pandemic has further confirmed the natural fact that nurses are indispensable. Nurses can move mountains if they’re resolute. Nurses can perform wonders if they discard the fear of unknown. The media can be made to change their often ridiculous headlines like ” DOCTORS and other health workers” to “Doctors , Nurses and other health workers or ” Nurses and doctors ” as it’s the case in saner climes. Nurses in Nigeria will come out of their perpetual hopelessness, inferiority complex, frustration, lack of motivation. The media in Nigeria will stop describing nurses as “allied ” health workers or paramedics!!! The public will stop defining nurses or midwives by the activities of quacks or auxiliaries that have proliferated most private hospitals/clinics.
I want to use this medium to call on our decision makers at the top and stakeholders to make quick decisions. We need to stand alone. We shall be the lobby point for both NMA and JOHESU if it still exists . We need to sit with the government side by side with NMA to put up our demands. Let’s discard the fear of unknown. Nurses and midwives are internationally recognized professionals. We suffer the most in cases of pandemics, epidemics but unfortunately we are not compensated expectedly.
Nurses and midwives can stand alone with efficient, courageous, selfless leadership . We can make it. We can win our battles for ourselves. The first thing to lose in a fight before losing the fight itself is self confidence. Once you lack self confidence, you have lost the fight ab initio. You have emboldened your ordinarily weak enemy. Today, we are not trusted in JOHESU as before. Look at the issue of hazard allowance, JOHESU is not advocating that nurses should have the highest hazard allowance even though they all know that nurses and midwives are the most exposed to any form of hospital or work related hazard. Is it the deaths of nurses or midwives from Ebola, Lassa Or COVID-19 we want to talk about or the beating of nurses by mentally unstable patients and/or their relatives??? The hazard is just too much.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate the fact that standing alone is the best option . We have a lot to gain in this. We shall reposition ourselves, we shall find our lost glory, we shall be a force to reckon with, we shall be a rally point for the NMA, and JOHESU -Without- Nurses in any struggle. We shall have time to take our destinies to our hands, we shall be able to focus on the factors responsible for our intra professional bickering and look for ways out. Those against our exit should stop imagining and predicting doom. No perfect professional body, group or individual. Everyone has his/her own challenges they’re contending with, including the so-called NMA. We Nurses and midwives should reason along to save the profession from needless distractions.