The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige revealed that some states in Nigeria are employing foreign doctors and pay them five times higher than Nigerian doctors.
The Minister disclosed this in a meeting with the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Dr Muheeba Dankaka and other federal commissioners this week.
He stated that such preferential treatment given to foreigners by some states ahead of Nigerian doctors does not encourage national unity and loyalty and urged the FCC to use its constitutional mandate to promote national unity and loyalty, rather than concentrate its efforts only on the public sector, especially in job recruitment.
What the Minister said
“The constitution did not say that you do only cases in the public sector. There are areas we need you to look into especially where the constitution is silent.
“We have cases where doctors are employed from Egypt, Cuba and Pakistan and they are paid five times what the Nigerian doctor will get if you convert the foreign exchange they use to pay them.
“But in this country, I was here when some of my teachers left from South East to go and teach in the North East at a time. They left because we had enough down there to export to our brothers. They were paid with our local currency and given some other incentives, which at the end of the day make the economy of those states to be alright,” he said.
He added if some people are poor in Nigeria in the poverty index rating, when the Nigerian poverty index is being taken, it will be an aggregate, including those places. “If it is health, when the health parameters are being taken, it is for the whole. So, FCC can go into that area,” he said, urging the FCC to persuade the state governments to open up and advertise those jobs, so that Nigerians can come whether from South-East, South-South or North-Central to fill the gap.
“Our constitution is the supreme law of the land. And any law made by anybody, whether national and state assembly that is in conflict with the constitution is void. So, you people have a strong mandate from the supreme law of the land. I think you should help us build a new country. A country where we will not be talking about hatred because it is some of these perceptions that cannot even be separated from reality that breeds all the discontent and hate speeches we see,” he said.
Earlier this month, President Muhammadu Buhari called on striking health workers in Nigeria to return to work, urging that embarking on industrial action at a time when Nigerians need them the most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.
The President added that the FG was supporting initiatives to expand health insurance coverage and bring more resources to health financing.
“We have many more challenges ahead and much more to do for our large population.
“In this respect, it is important to remind you that, as senior medical personnel and representatives of one of the most respected professional groups in the world, your responsibilities for the health and wellbeing of Nigerians are clear.
“It does not end only with the welfare of your members, but continues with a sense of responsibility for the entire country and its sociopolitical health and national stability,” he added.