An enormous reduction got here the way in which of Dr Chris Ngige final week. As a hapless nation resigned to bear the brunt of one other paralysis within the well being sector, a sudden truce was introduced. The Joint Well being Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Meeting of Healthcare Professionals had on September three threatened to embark on an indefinite strike if after 15 days the Federal Authorities failed to deal with some grievances. The countdown started. Then the fortunate break got here as Ngige introduced that each events had reached an understanding.
For the Minister, the breakthrough could also be short-lived. The 2-month previous strike by the Nationwide Affiliation of Resident Medical doctors (NARD) continues to be ongoing, whereas the Nigerian Medical Affiliation (NMA) is contemplating becoming a member of the fray in solidarity with the resident medical doctors. A gathering on a separate dialogue on hazard allowance, for which N37.5 billion has reportedly been budgeted, is being deliberate.
The cycle, symptomatic of Nigeria’s Russian roulette, captures the destiny of a trapped nation, constantly in movement with out motion.
Entering into excessive workplace in Nigeria, particularly political positions, doesn’t come on a platter of gold. It calls for sturdy connection to the ability elite, powered by your ethnic origin, faith and selfishness. The truth that we assassinate, seek the advice of oracles and carry out rituals, in addition to observe an occasional fasting, underscores the significance and/or desperation for such places of work. What’s the reward then?
When the lists of potential political appointees are being compiled, there might be as many as three of such lists, relying on the variety of curiosity teams or energy blocs in play. And there’s no certainty concerning the names that may finally make the ultimate minimize. So, an enormous measure of prayers and rituals just isn’t uncommon. These are the excessive stakes to scale in an effort to safe political appointments. And due to the large returns tied to such positions, the jostling appears vindicated.
After securing the approval of the ability blocs and the candidate is finally cleared to look earlier than the Senate, the nominee is assured of affirmation, except being promoted by a weak or disunited clique, who could misgauge the affect of Ghana Should Go in political lobbying in Nigeria. Advantage and competence are secondary issues on this clime.
So, when Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige, a medical physician by coaching, appeared earlier than the Senate for screening and affirmation as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2015, his confidence was understandably excessive. He was a former Senator and nonetheless wears the sobriquet. So, he solely bowed and left.
However being assigned a portfolio is a unique ball recreation, a choice that resides with the president and his internal circle. Unwritten issues come into play at this stage. Nonetheless, everybody craves to be posted to a profitable and highly effective ministry: Petroleum, Defence, Finance, Works, Energy and Transport, amongst others. These ministries command enormous budgetary allocations and oversee revenue-generating parastatals that shirk accountability. In a deeply corrupt nation, these businesses assure on the spot accumulation of non-public wealth via massively inflated or ghost contracts, or simply by openly dipping palms into the until. To enhance, the civil service reeks with opaque accounts for siphoning funds. With such cushioning, the political appointee is greater than sufficiently motivated to face the challenges of his workplace. Notice that in Nigeria, politicians are usually richer than enterprise folks.
Nobody will joyfully settle for posting to a Ministry of Labour, Well being or Schooling the place upheavals are everlasting and provide very minimal underhand monetary returns. In any case, the funds usually are not even accessible. The Labour Ministry, for example, will generate monumental visibility for the supervising minister, one thing a typical politician would usually embrace. However on this case, the visibility is usually engendered by infinite altercations with activist commerce unions.
Properly, Dr Ngige discovered himself because the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productiveness, a portfolio that’s on the coronary heart of basic human rights and financial growth. On the onset, a number of situations would have performed in his thoughts, most of them fairly discomforting. The mere considered such acronyms as ASUU, NLC, TUC, PENGASSAN, NARD, NUPENG, and NMA evokes nervousness and anger. Their calling is anchored on the struggle for the safety of the basic rights of employees, which, within the Nigerian case, is trenchantly breached by employers. The enforcement of such rights naturally results in disruption within the ecosystem.
At the moment, Ngige’s consternation has absolutely unraveled. Hardly does any quarter go with out an upheaval triggered by organized labour for the breach of 1 proper or one other of the employees. An enormous measure of the minister’s troubles emanates from serving in an enormously unpopular and despotic authorities which up to now six years has displayed utter disregard for human rights and democratic tenets.
I’ve little question that Ngige and others in troublesome and non-profitable ministries can be repeatedly dreaming of a cupboard shakeup, a want hinged on the hope of being transferred to ‘higher’ ministries. However the hazard of praying for a cupboard reshuffle comes with the chance of being dropped utterly. Two ministers misplaced their jobs in a minor shakeup earlier this month. So, it might appear preferable to stay the place you might be and take care of the dynamics of your portfolio.
It’s unknown from my place how these incessant labour upheavals are affecting Ngige. However talking from a psychological standpoint, he wouldn’t be a contented man. He lives below everlasting strain, so to talk. I could also be mistaken although. He may very well be somebody minimize out for the job. As a educated medical physician, he positively is aware of what medicines are required to maintain his blood strain steady. After which, if there’s a correlation between peak and hyperactivity, then I might say from a layman’s viewpoint that being diminutive, Ngige may very well be working in his pure surroundings. In that case, Ayuba Wabba and co have solely been availing the Anambra state-born politician the prospect to ventilate.
With hindsight, it might be that the earlier expertise of being pressured into a rest room by a godfather, even whereas serving as a sitting governor, would have hardened Ngige like a Taliban. Additionally, his longevity in Nigeria’s perfidious political area, speaks of a cat with over a dozen lives.
Nonetheless, 2023 would appear like eternity for Ngige to exhale, particularly if Buhari doesn’t reshuffle his cupboard once more. However Ngige might not be transferred elsewhere if that occurs. So, he hangs in there, carrying a cross he would reasonably offload, whereas hoping that one thing retains distracting labour from issuing one other strike discover. Poor fellow!
Nwachukwu may be reached by way of email@example.com