…Says allegation against him untrue
By Chioma Obinna
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Wednesday condemned a media report calling for the probe of the president of the association, Prof Innocent Ujah.
The NMA also claimed that the report credited to a chieftain of the All Peoples Congress, APC, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze made a lot of what it described as “fallacious allegations” against their President who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State.
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze had in a press statement made available to media houses in Port Harcourt, Rivers State appealed to the Federal Government to investigate the subversive role played by the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Medical Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, Prof. Innocent Ujah in the recent nationwide strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors.
Eze added that a situation where a public officer, a Vice Chancellor, who incongruously leads a Medical Union or pressure group of all Doctors in Nigeria willfully issues a press statement, laden with falsehood, in order to incite doctors to strike, is tantamount to sabotage of the efforts of the Federal Government towards repositioning the health sector.
Stating their position in a statement entitled: “Re: Probe NMA President”, and signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Dr Aniekeme Uwah said: “though the association may not want to join issues with Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze whose diatribe is laden with lies and deliberate falsehood, the association owes the general public duty of stating the facts through this rejoinder to prevent the uninformed members of the public from being misled.
NMA said: “For the benefit of the doubt and to give more clarity to the issues raised, it was pertinent to state without any form of ambiguity to point out the facts.
According to the NMA, contrary to what it described as “baseless speculations” in the contentious article, there was no attempt whatsoever by the NMA President to subvert or undermine the efforts of the Federal Government to reposition and revolutionize the health sector.
“Rather, NMA has been conducting its statutory role of partnering and complementing the efforts of government in enhancing health care delivery in the country creditably.
“In addition, NMA has not embarked on any serious strike in the last 20 years, including the period under the leadership of Prof Innocent Ujah, despite the unfavourable working conditions our members find themselves and the poor welfare which has led to an unprecedented brain drain in the country.”
They stressed that as the custodians of the health and wellbeing of the people of Nigeria, the Association has continued to be at the forefront of advocacy for qualitative health care delivery in Nigeria.
“Moreso, looking specifically at the issues raised by Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, it’s instructive to note the following; Firstly, there is no law in the country that bars any public officer from leading her professional body. Indeed, examples abound. It is also worthy to note that NMA is a professional association and not a trade union as wrongly presented by one Chief Eze.
”Secondly, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), is one of the 8 (eight) affiliates of NMA, which has the improvement of the welfare of her members as one of her core objectives, which very importantly is enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath.
”To ensure that the objective is met, the affiliates use various means including advocacy, legislations and withdrawal of services, which is always a last resort.
“Though the strike action by the Residents was clearly avoidable if the demands of the Doctors were met as agreed in previous MOUs, NMA worked assiduously behind the scene to ensure the strike was suspended.”
They said the fact that resident Doctors are paid everywhere in the world was undebatable.
“It is good that Chief Eze has now admitted that they are paid stipends abroad, which are far better than what Resident Doctors are paid in Nigeria. “
They further added that while the Association appreciates the giant strides recorded in the health sector under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, there was still a lot of room for improvement.
NMA also advised the government to continually prioritise on creating enabling work environment, including state-of-the-art equipment and the welfare of her members to stop the avoidable withdrawal of services which painfully lead to suffering and avoidable loss of lives.
“For the records, no amount of blackmail and campaign of calumny by traditional mischief-makers will prevent NMA from speaking against lies, falsehood and distortion of facts in the health sector in order not to allow the already severely asphyxiated Nigerian health sector to become comatose.”
The NMA also commended President Buhari for finding their President worthy of being appointed as the 1st Vice-Chancellor of the pioneer Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, a position he has used strategically to align the interest of the association and that of government, and very important to advance medical education in the country.
They added that in line with Article 2, subsection 3 of our constitution, the association would continue ‘to assist the government and Nigerians in the provision of a smooth, efficient and effective health care delivery system in the country.