The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige said that he was misquoted over an earlier comment he made about the migration of Nigerian doctors to foreign countries.
During an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, Chris Ngige had said that doctors who want to leave the country in search of greener pastures are free to do so as Nigeria has enough medical personnel.
Asked if he was concerned that the nation could be facing a medical crisis with the number of doctors leaving Nigeria, Ngige who is also a medical doctor said, he was not bothered that medical doctors are leaving Nigeria in droves, saying that the nation has a surplus of them and must therefore “export” to other countries.
The comment drew rage from many Nigerians, especially medical professionals who have been struggling to tackle the challenge of ‘brain drain’ in the health industry.
While Nigerians on social media questioned the minister’s understanding of the health sector, experts said the minister spoke from a position of ignorance and a “politician that doesn’t understand what is going on.”
Following the backlash, the minister rephrased his position on the issue in a statement issued on Thursday by Nwachukwu Obidiwe, his Special Assistant on Media.
Ngige said he fully appreciated the sensitivity of the issue at hand and the consequential negative import of brain drain on national productivity. He said:
“I speak from the vintage position of being a medical doctor and member, Nigerian Medical Association since June, 1979 and enriched by my vast knowledge on health administration, having retired as a Deputy Director, Medical Services and Training from the Federal Ministry of Health in 1998, member of Vision 2010 Committee on Health as well as senior member, Senate Committee on Health 2011-2015.
“Therefore, the truth no matter how it hurts, must be told and reality, boldly faced. Hence, apart from Nigeria’s non-compliance with the World Health Organisation’s ratio of one doctor to six hundred patients of which I was misquoted.
“Every other thing I said in that interview is an existential reality, useful and constructive facts which every Nigerian that watched the full interview will hardly dispute.
“I invite opinion moulders especially those who have spoken or written on this issue to watch the full clip of my interview with the Channels.
“I invite opinion moulders especially those who have spoken or written on this issue to watch the full clip of my interview with the channels.
“And it is for this reason that I admitted having a little cause to worry about brain drain among medical doctors.”