by Ayomide Ekerin
Nigerian doctors are everywhere. They have always excelled anywhere. Nigeria should be proud that it is exporting quality hands, and they are out there in their droves competing favourably with the best around the world.
The Likes of Dr. Benedict Omalu of the Concussion fame make us shout for the world to hear that we are Nigerians and he is Nigerian. Thank God he has a native last name or else, we would have scoured the internet, looking for his native middle name, like we did for Anthony Joshua.
According to the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Michel Arrion in The Guardian of June 16, 2015, “There are more PhD holders of Nigerian origin in Europe or in America than in Nigeria… There are more Nigerian doctors and nurses in Europe and in America than in Nigeria.”
The Guardian added that the UNDP Human Development Report indicated that more than 21,000 Nigerian doctors were practising in the United States alone by 1993 while the country suffers from a shortage of doctors. If the number in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Europe, Australia and those in other African countries were to be added, the statistics would be close to 30,000, and that was 25 years ago! Today, given the economic tribulations the nation has endured with its consequent brain drain, the figure could be more than double.
With these figures, if the news was that President Muhammadu Buhari was being treated by Nigerian doctors in London, we would have believed. Even, if it came from Uncle Lai, we may have doubted it a little, just a little, but we still would have believed.
So why believe that Nigerian doctors can treat Mr. President in London, and not believe that Made-in-Nigeria drugs could be administered to him over there? Is it because we have more faith in people than in things in this part of the world? Maybe. But that can’t be the reason we were so incredulous at the news.
Truth is, we don’t believe in made in Nigeria, whether people or products. There are two sets of Nigerian medical practitioners abroad—those who schooled in Nigeria and those who schooled abroad. Looking at both instances, I believe both sets of people were not made in Nigeria, at least, to some extent. While the former schooled in Nigeria, he was given the opportunity to be the best he can be by the work atmosphere overseas. Therefore, he was “made” overseas. The latter on the other hand owes all he is to “the abroad.”
The same cannot be said of Nigerian drugs. Nigerian drugs are made in Nigeria, packaged in Nigeria and used in Nigeria. The United Kingdom may have a need for our doctors, not for our drugs. Maybe one day they will. For now, let us be content that our brothers and sisters are thriving over there. Let us wish that they return home where they ought to be, and where they are needed the most.