Striking Nigerian medical practitioners have declared their intention to engage in a nationwide protest, alleging that the newly elected president of the country has disregarded their requests for improved wages, improved working conditions, and the payment of unpaid wages.
The protest, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, adds to the challenges President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria faces. Tinubu is currently overseeing efforts within the West African regional organization ECOWAS, of which he is the chairman, to restore democracy to Niger in the wake of a recent rebellion.
According to Dr. Innocent Orji, president of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, the decision to protest was prompted by the need to highlight their demands, which have been largely ignored by both the federal government and their parent ministry. This sentiment was conveyed by Orji in a letter dated August 5 and sent to the country’s health ministry. The Associated Press received a copy of the letter.
According to the Nigerian Medical Association, the ratio of resident doctors to patients is one of the lowest in the world, with only two physicians per 10,000 residents. Since July 26th, these resident physicians have been on strike to protest unpaid salaries and to advocate for improved pay and working conditions. As explained by Orji to The Associated Press, the ministry of health implemented a “no work, no pay” policy and other punitive measures in response to the workers’ demands, rather than meeting them.
In their letter to the health ministry, the physicians stated their intention to protest government offices and other institutions until their demands are met.
The letter states, “We are dismayed that despite repeated ultimatums, our parent ministry and the federal government have chosen to vilify Nigerian resident doctors rather than genuinely and collaboratively addressing the challenges that led to the strike.”
The Nigerian trade unions organized a similar demonstration earlier in the week to protest the rising expense of living in the continent’s most populous nation.
Several policies implemented by President Tinubu since he took office in May have exacerbated the plight of millions of Nigerians already struggling with high inflation rates, which reached 22.7% in June, and a multidimensional poverty rate of 63%.
Dr. Erondu Nnamdi Christian, a resident physician in the southeastern state of Abia, remarked that Tinubu should prioritize local issues in light of the nation’s current significant challenges. “This country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder,” Christian asserted. “It would be better for him to concentrate on local issues.” “Charity begins within”