Nigeria will disgrace you. This is a maxim that has become famous among young Millennial Nigerians and one we at YNaija have become disconcertingly familiar with in the last few months. Just when you defend an action of the Nigerian government, either at the local, state or federal level, they follow up with an action that invalidates your defense and makes you look stupid in front of our audience. A few months ago, when it was announced that Chinese Doctors had been received at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, at the invitation of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) raised alarm, alerting the population to the illegality of the action and asking that the doctors, who they alleged were flown in only to treat Chinese nationals be repatriated to their home country.
We at YNaija defended the decision, citing that at the time we were at the beginning of our fight against the Coronavirus and any help, especially from the first country to successful contain the virus was needed. We argued that there was no place for partisan politics when so many lives were at stake. Boy were we naive.
Yesterday, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 was asked about the status of the Chinese Doctors who were flown into the country as expert consultants for our fight against the virus. They had gone largely silent since the initial uproar and press wanted to follow up. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire replied reporters, alleging that the Ministry of Health wasn’t ‘hosting’ the Chinese nationals, and as such had no idea about their current whereabouts. In his exact words:
“The other one is about the Chinese doctors. I think not all of them are doctors, some of them are technicians, but they are staff of CCECC. The Ministry of Health is not their host, so we cannot always explain what happens to them or where they are.
“There seems to be a lot of interests in these doctors, but they are staff of a company and I think they are on the company visa. So, I will be very happy if you don’t ask me about where they are because they are not really our guests in that sense.”
The level of irresponsibility and the abject abdication of duty from the Federal Ministry of Health is staggering. How did CCECC obtain permits to transport not only health professionals from a foreign country during a period where there were international sanctions on travel, but also bring tons of medical equipment, none of which has been used to treat Nigerians suffering from Covid-19. How can a sitting minister flippantly dismiss the concerns of all the relevant health organizations in the country and then fail woefully at the simple task of quarantining and monitoring health professionals essentially ferried into the country. What have we done deserve this kind of staggering incompetence?