A bill currently being debated by the National Assembly that would limit the movement of Nigerian doctors to countries with what they believe to be greener pastures was deemed “unworkable” by the Federal Government on Monday.
Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, stated this while answering questions from reporters, on Monday.
This followed the emergency Federal Executive Council meeting at the State House in Abuja, which was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Ngige said the bill violates current labour regulations in response to resident physicians’ plan to go on a five-day warning strike over perceived attempts to prohibit medical and dental graduates from practising outside the country for five years.
The initiative will stop the vast migration of medical professionals from the nation, according to the bill’s sponsor, Ganiyu Johnson, a member of the House of Representatives from Lagos State.
The legislation is titled, “A Bill for an Act to amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M379, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to mandate any Nigeria-trained medical or dental practitioner to practise in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before being granted a full licence by the Council to make quality health services available to Nigeria; and for related matters.”
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) responded to the bill by announcing plans for a five-day warning strike and pledging to fight any attempt to “enslave” Nigerian doctors.
In addition, they demanded the immediate implementation of CONMESS, the domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act, a 200% increase in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, as well as a review of the hazard allowance by all state governments and private tertiary health institutions where any form of residency training is conducted.
However, Ngige said, “Nobody can say they (doctors) will not get a practising licence until after five years. It will run contrary to the laws of the land that have established the progression in the practice of medicine.
“The Bill in the National Assembly cannot stop anybody from getting a full licence. That Bill is a private members’ bill. In the National Assembly, they attend to private members’ Bills and executive Bills.
“Executive bills emanate from the government into the National Assembly with the stamp of the executive.
“It is either sent by the Attorney-General of the Federation or by the President, but usually from the Attorney-General of the Federation. So, it’s not an executive Bill, it’s a private member’s Bill.
“That document is, as far as I am concerned, not workable. Ab initio, I don’t support it and I will never support it.
“As I said before, it is like killing a fly with a sledgehammer. They should think of other ways if they are trying to check brain drain, there should be other ways.”