If your face is swollen from the severe beatings of life, smile and pretend to be a fat man – Nigerian Proverb
Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful – Molly Ivins
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My fellow Nigerians, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, et cetera, et cetera: All protocols duly observed; I say to you, a very good morning. As the chairperson of the Buhari Support Organisation or is it Buhari media Organisation? (I forget which one it is) but all the same, I am the chairman of something very important which supports the Buhari government. Anyway, as I was saying, as a loyal supporter of this wonderful administration, gossip has reached me that Nigerians have started making the usual noise about the number one citizen of this country travelling abroad for medical ‘check-up’.
Don’t you people tire? The last time the president travelled out of this country was in January, 2020. In my opinion, ‘Yawale’ has even tried sef. When was the last time he travelled to the UK (his favourite holiday destination) for medical treatment? Do you think it is easy to stay in this Nigerian heat (or is it harmattan?) for very long periods? One’s skin begins to dry and before long, the heat combined with poisonous chemicals erupting from our millions of generators and Tokunbo cars, creates wrinkles and a general feeling of un-healthiness that necessitates visits to the UK, from time to time. This recent trip to our colonial masters’ land is only the 12th time he has travelled for medical treatment since assuming office in 2015. Haba jama’a! What is twelve times for our able President? You people should be ashamed of yourselves!
Who are those saying that it is too much? For the president of the most populous black nation on earth? Nigeria the Agbaya, sorry, giant of Africa? A country flowing with gold and honey? A country whose economy is so strong that the Naira stands at par with the British Pound? Who says we cannot afford his trips? We are Nigerians, for God’s sake, we can afford anything! Did I hear someone mumble something about tax payer’s money? Na today? When past presidents were travelling up and down, why didn’t you people talk about using people’s hard-earned money? Bad belle people! If there is need for a thirteenth trip, he shall take it!
What is that you say? That it is ill timed? That Doctor’s are have gone on strike? Which one is new again? That Doctors are going on strike or that their demands have not been met? Una too dey like grammar. Don’t you know that the doctors purposely planned their strike to coincide with Baba’s strip? Oh, you don’t know? Siddon dia make pant wear you! Everyone already knows that doctors are supernatural beings, so even though the ultimatum for our demands to be met was to end on the 31st of March, 2012, God, in his infinite mercy, made it so that Baba’s ‘Medical check-up’ would be announced this week thereby providing the perfect ingredients for a Nigerian soap opera.
Let us be fair and iron out this matter once and for all. What is it these doctors want sef? What are their demands? Why are they (My hand no dey) bent on disgracing this country year after year? Just because their big brother, ASUU, remains a permanent thorn in the government’s flesh, they too feel they can do the same? Well, I, the honourable chairlady of the Buhari Support Organisation (or is it Media? I don loss) am here to mediate between the doctors and government.
The doctors are demanding, amongst other things, payment of all salary arrears, including that of the new house officers nationwide, a review of the current hazard allowance to 50% of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance especially in state-owned tertiary institutions. Furthermore, they are also demanding for payment of death in service insurance for all health workers who died as a result od covid-19 infection or other infectious diseases in the country. Bear in mind that these are just a few of their demands, so for the purpose of brevity, I will only address these few but important issues.
Demand#1: Let us start with the issue of payment of salary arrears. For God’s sake, where do people think this money is going to come from? Do doctors and lecturers think that government grows money on trees? If government pays all these arrears from 19 Kokoro till present, how are they going to fund their lavish lifestyles? Who is going to drive those Prado Jeeps? How do we fund the US-UK-Dubai trips of our leaders? Doctors should be reasonable abeg. It is true that you provide an invaluable service to the nation, but try and be fair for once. Is your reward not in Heaven? Then how can you be paid here on earth and in heaven as well? Is this not the corruption we are preaching against? School fees, You say? Let the doctors appeal to the school management to treat them in exchange for tuition- Shikenan! I am sure they will be reasonable. Scratch my back and I scratch yours. Equation balance. The newly employed house officers (interns) should learn from their older colleagues that it is not every day that we eat rice and beans, sometimes we drink garri without sugar and sleep. Remember, the doctor’s reward is in the hereafter.
Demand#2: Where do I even begin with this one? Every time hazard allowance, hazard allowance, hazard allowance! Haba! Every day the same song! How many times have we promised to review it from the N5000 per month? Government will get there eventually. I know it is not easy to be patient, but as health workers, you of all people should know that patience is a virtue. Do the drugs you write work immediately? No! Do you not sometimes tell your patients to take their drugs, go home and be patient? Ehen now; It is the same thing. Be patient. Even as I write this, government is still ‘strategizing’ on ways to sort out this hazard allowance issue. The problems with all these doctors (again, excluding me) is that they have very little knowledge of the three steps of Nigerian public administration: Committee setup, Strategizing and Implementation. GST 101.
Demand#3: The issue of death insurance for health workers who died as a result of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Chai! Na this one pain me pass! In this country, where it is an abomination to die, some doctors are even praying to die from an infectious disease so that their families will be given money! Wonders shall never end! Shebi, they saw History and filled medical sciences in their JAMB form? How is it now government wahala? As a religious nation, we should not entertain such thoughts. Death is pre-destined, Qadr, in Islam, while in Christianity, early death is greeted with ‘It is not our portion’! How then can we entertain such wicked thoughts such as death? Are the doctors hoping to catch Ebola? Or Covid? Or Lassa? God forbid! The Almighty will never let them suffer, ameen. The doctors will all heal and there shall be no need for any insurance. Besides, Nigeria can not afford to gamble with tax payer’s money just like that. Better the government uses the money that could be used for ‘death insurance’ to fly the doctor’s abroad when they get sick.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, please be patient. The President will soon be back from his trip and I promise that everything will miraculously take a turn for the better. A ci gaba da hakuri! Sai Baba!