It now appears that studying medicine in Nigeria is a sin. The National Assembly is rumored to be debating a law requiring medical and dentistry graduates to serve a five-year term before being awarded a license to practice! What a repressive bill. One cannot but agree with the diaspora’s medical doctors that the policy will be detrimental and will not solve the problem it is supposed to tackle. The National Assembly, which is intended to safeguard the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s constitution regarding freedom of movement, is now planning to restrict Nigerians’ ability to travel to any region of the world.
The measure is considered to be based on the reality that much medical personnel migrate to other nations as soon as they graduate, despite the substantial government subsidies they received while studying. How was the subsidy determined to be three to five years of mandatory service? How much money is spent on students who attend private institutions and pay tuition that is treble or quadruple those of public universities? Or, in the license delay arrangement, will they discriminate between graduates of public and private universities?
Regarding subsidies, what is the government’s level of support for university education? Underfunding at public institutions affects all courses and even the faculty. The measure is considered to be based on the reality that much medical personnel migrate to other nations as soon as they graduate, despite the substantial government subsidies they received while studying. How was the subsidy determined to be three to five years of mandatory service? How much money is spent on students who attend private institutions and pay tuition that is treble or quadruple those of public universities? Or, in the license delay arrangement, will they discriminate between graduates of public and private universities?
Regarding subsidies, what is the government’s level of support for university education? Underfunding at public institutions affects all courses and even the faculty.
Given the obvious shortcomings at home, I inquired about how they were coping with their employment. It was then that I discovered they were hired on the basis of their ability to be trained. They must complete nearly 18 months of training and examinations, similar to another type of horsemanship, before beginning real-world hospital practice. The exposure acquired at home may not be adequate in practical terms, but it does help children recognize the equipment and become accustomed to it in a short period of time. What if they had stayed at home for five years and won the local championship?
Many young academics in science, social sciences, and mathematics are continually looking for possibilities to travel for post-doctoral fellowships in order to catch up with their colleagues around the world. Following the recent ASUU strike, several departments in similar subjects have been counting their losses, as many of the young academics have gone on. Perhaps the National Assembly members will have to legislate again if more professionals migrate.
There have been cases where elderly academics attempted to deliver papers at international conferences only to discover that their technique was far behind. A buddy once told me that he couldn’t give his paper at a conference in the United States because another colleague was also presenting.
I see it as an opportunity for our youth to benefit from global technological advancements so that whenever we have a good government that creates a conducive environment for Nigerians to realize their potential, create job opportunities, and promote investments, we will have a ready-made pool of experts coming home to contribute to the country’s rapid development.
That takes us to the law that the National Assembly should sponsor, but we’ll get to that later. In the first instance, it is not only medical workers who are fleeing the nation in large numbers. It includes all age groups of youth and, in certain situations, adults.
The data on non-medical graduates who have received japa in the last few years is still being collated, and the results will be astounding. They are leaving because they are out of work. Some of these young people would remain with their parents after graduation, jobless for years, and without a future. People who work get wages that are insufficient to provide basic needs such as clothing, food, and adequate housing. Several state governments do not pay salaries on a regular basis, while other private sector enterprises take advantage of the tragic circumstances of widespread unemployment to underpay employees as though they are assisting them.
Nigerian labor is constantly on the receiving end. Some private-sector entrepreneurs abuse their employees like slaves, and the government, which is supposed to safeguard its citizens, is also involved. Most labor union executives are in that positions to benefit themselves or to pursue personal goals. Most banks hire graduates on contract as salesgirls who must run around mobilizing deposits in holy, immoral, or unethical ways. The factories hire graduates as clerks or manufacturing workers on contract, working nearly 18 hours a day for a low wage and no overtime pay.
Even when lecturers want an extra work allowance, which is equivalent to overtime due to a dearth of academic staff in comparison to the expanding number of students, there must be arm-twisting or a strike, as well as advertising as if they are requesting a favor from the employers.
All of this leads to poor work ethics, such as moonlighting, stealing workplace property, absenteeism, and overall low output. Workers must simply hold on since labor mobility is limited due to a lack of job options as the economy contracts. Thankfully, the advanced economies are experiencing what is known as a “aging society,” which requires young people to work in their hospitals, factories, and industries. Globalization has facilitated labor mobility.
We recognize the need for labor to move from one job to another in economics, and some of the major considerations are salary adequacy to meet a large portion of needs; job environment in terms of facilities available for carrying out tasks; step up or step down from the current job; benefits package; and social environment.
The National Assembly should approve measures on employment generation or job creation, workplace environment, professional integrity, easy labor mobility within and outside the country, penalties for low pay or late payment or owing workers’ salary, and good governance.
A statute that restricts or discriminates against labor or free movement of labor is a violation of both the Nigerian constitution and international labor law, to which Nigeria is a signatory. Bills introduced in the National Parliament should address poor governance, corruption, and injustice. These are the factors that drive people to leave their home countries, and the reversal will motivate them to return.