Greetings to you all- colleagues, senior ones, students and everyone who entered into this profession and have been addressed by the benefit of the rigorous education, time, and practice. It brings me a moment of a painful and funny moment in time as I remember a moment in my nursing education; myself along with friends, were made to stand in front of the class and this line was sounded to our ears: We know you were not driven by passion to come to this nursing, most of you have come to this profession because of the money.

Ignorantly, our minds throbbed on – it’s a rich profession at least, wow. Three to five years later, the reality of a collapsing profession dawned on us.

Do you want to start from the scattered arrangement of private hospital nurses or our colleagues who are somewhat medical maids in home care or the frustrated and sad government hospital nurses who compare themselves with teachers in order to feel good that they are doing fine in life compared to their counterparts?

Someone would ask – is that the fault of NANNM? As someone who has moved round the sector from private to home care, HMO, company, government and more, I have concluded that leadership is the major issue with nursing in Nigeria. If you are a nurse and are passionate about the development of the profession, you would have realized today that some moves are only possible through a recognized professional association. It is not that we don’t have one but, what we have are people who have more excuses in thousand folds over what they could call achievements. We have people who have made the association their “quick-rich schemes”.

Aside from the pension they get from service, they also get a discharge fee and pension from “serving us all”. This is aside from the comfort they create for themselves in the name of “serving us”.

Nurses in Nigeria do not have leaders with enough vision to plan, organize and move. It is surprising and heart-wrenching that an association that evolved in 1938, suffered a lot in dark times has become a poverty alleviation one where the call for transparency means nothing. Shocking that the association has become a “come and chop your own”. We have seen the sector (Federal Health Institution, FHI) that relies on just 30% of income or so (from many nurses) and spent over 45 million naira on travels and tour in 4 years without a tangible achievement on nurses’ welfare or improvement in the country.

To brief you, NANNM (Federal Health Institutions) spent 98.5 million naira in 4 years. Join me in asking – On what? This is not just an income from heaven, this is the deduction from many heads that few people have access to and have spent the way they want.

If you must know, amongst the leading professional councils, NMCN is the only one where the ACT is so ancient that it does not meet current realities. One to mention is how our governing council is still compulsorily made to accommodate medical officers for Obstetrics and Gynecology even as we have Professors in maternal and child health fields today. There is no other council where they allow the intrusion of other fields to decide for their people. Still, this does not seem something for NANNM to pursue to achievement. I am sure they would have excuse for their failures too.
There is no profession that can move forward with the current constitution that we have in NANNM where there are no equal members’ rights. Where those who vote are loyalists and have normal processes abandoned. Someone who is not from general hospital or teaching hospital even if he is professor Ajibade from LAUTECH cannot contest and win. Now is the right time to fight for an association that must be with a conscience and processes that put checks and balances in place.

I am going to leave this address with the constitutional aims and objectives of NANNM, the question for us all is to be true to ourselves if NANNM has been able to meet them:

i). To organize all registered nurses who are qualified for membership
ii). To provide a forum or avenue where nurses speak with one voice
iii). To set and improve the standard of services which the nurses give to the general public
iv). To improve nursing education at the levels throughout the federation.
v). To participate in planning, policy-making, and administration of health care delivery services at all levels of government.
vi). To provide a forum whereby understanding, fellowship and unity can be achieved and maintained, at all times amongst all members of the nursing profession.
vii). To raise the status of the profession, obtained just and proper remuneration, hours of work and other conditions/schemes of service that will enhance the dignity of the profession and generally protect the professional and socio-economic interests of members.
viii). To extend protection: – legal or otherwise to members of the employment/practice of its members.
ix). To seek the interest and act as guardian to other groups within the nursing profession such as the student nurses and the midwives.
x). To uphold the international code of nursing ethics and position statements as enunciated by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) as well as World Health Organization (WHO) as they affect nursing practice
xi). To affiliate with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and/or fraternize with any other relevant international professional organizations with similar aims and objects.
xii). To establish and maintain good relationship with members of the public, other professions, trade unions, employers and nurses and all the governments of Nigeria.
xiii). To establish and maintain good relationship with nursing colleagues in Africa, commonwealth and other parts of the world.
xiv). To operate benefit schemes for the members as may be decided by the national executive council from time to time

OUR DEMANDS

We have realized that to move together as an association, the executives must show an effect of the following through an immediate constitutional reform or executive arrangement:

1. REFORM NANNM MEMBERSHIP THROUGH:

  • Online membership registration form.
  • Online mode of payment with options for monthly/yearly dues
  • State availability mode and campaign to capture any state registered/resident nurse. This would create a feasible means for everyone to become members and be assured of their membership rights.
  •  Nursesshould be able to register without belonging to a unit or become affiliated to the closest healthcare institution with a unit. In this wise, a list of every unit in the state must be displayed for members.

2. MEMBERSHIP DUES AND ORGANIZATION

  • A flat rate membership due of #1000 across board.
  • Thiswould enable a function for every nurse in Nigeria to have a sense of equal membership right. Unemployed nurses should be provided an option to clear off owed dues.

The debate on why a young nurse should pay the same with senior nurses is almost the same amount for 3% of salary for a young nurse at 1000 naira. In the same vein, growing in the profession should come at ease with 1000 payment to the association.

  • NANNM could liaise with banks for members voluntary scheduled payment where deductions would be easy by month end for people who are not employed in public institutions.
  • State congresses should hold every three months where details of the association’s finances, developments and news should be relayed to members. It should target all nurses in the state.
  • Each state must have its website and social media profiles to keep those who don’t belong to units abreast of developments.

ELECTORAL MEANS

  • The association must adopt a decentralized means of electoral system where all registered nurses in the state must be eligible to vote. Due to the nature of our work, state election must be conducted through unit polls and must encourage enough timing for nurses in the unit or around the unit to vote. For national election, state by state voting must be adopted to ensure that every nurse registered in the state is eligible to vote. This would mean the cancellation of delegate rule. Delegate conference must be scientific and aimed at the promotion of nursing profession. Processes of election must be processed and made public to members with notifications as appropriate to the public.
  • Any registered member of the association must be capable of voting and be eligible to be voted for.

INCLUSIVE ASSOCIATION

  1. There must be committees with heads for development of Nursing research, practice development, administrative development and educational development. Developing policies and offering suggestions that protects the public, upgrade nursing profession and keeps us all directed at meaningful goals.
  2. Have a central coordination for members to petition, report, complain or make enquiries.
  3. Office for media and public engagement. (Comments on national issues, nursing and all). Employ media managers to manage the social account of the association (Volunteers could be sought too). A portfolio must be available for the association and office of Public Relations Officer created.

TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

  • Quarterly analysis of spending must be made available to members.
  • The association’s auditor must be ready to provide an account of spending at member’s request at any time. Quarterly analysis of visits, plans, and activities. Downloadable via the website (Uploaded by paid/volunteer site managers)
  • Announcement of yearly goals (long term/short term)!
  •  NANNMtenure should be reorganized for 3 years
    f. Provision for ability to recall nonperforming executive of the association

Enough of docility from a professional association like NANNM, enough of playing second fiddle.