A Doctor’s Memoir; the Nigerian story

How now?

I’m doing well o. Market is not easy my brother. You doctors don’t feel a thing in this recession

No be so o. Are we not in this same Nigeria or don’t you hear the news?

What’s in the news biko? You know I just got back from China. But wait, I saw a video of some protesting doctors having it rough with policemen. Some had their shirts torn, one was sweating profusely his shirt was soaked, button down. What was that commotion all about?

What else but money? And I’m being honest with you. Salary increase and everything in between. Their Oga at the top wouldn’t budge. So it became a roforofo fight. My friends there said everyone is not happy with the management in that place and so have had to forge an unholy alliance with their enemies to protest.

Ehn hen, no be small tin o. I even heard some pressmen were rough-handled and harassed too. Those are neutral people and I don’t think they should be victims. This is 2017 and not 1989 or 1996. Whatever happens to FOI!

In any case that is bad press and it is not good for any leadership or organization for that matter.

Does bad press really matter these days? Did Trump not win despite all the florid media and political misgivings about him? Even seasoned journalists and bookmakers were stunned.

You are right. But I feel the dispute here could have been managed better before it became public embarrassment.

And our security men really should have moved beyond this kind of abuse and be civil. But I don’t even blame them much. We deserve the kind of security we get. The doctors and policemen are supposed to be highly civil and respectable but then just like every other profession in Nigeria, they are as civil as the country that produces them.

You mean we cannot plant cocoa and reap plantain? What about grafting?

Lol. You know better my friend. The doctors and policemen are as efficient and disciplined as Nigeria makes them to be. They are Nigerians with Nigerian gene and blood. They face Nigerian realities just like every ordinary Nigerian. They’ve got to survive.

Are you saying Nigerians are violent people?

No. But take for instance the other time I traveled to US. I saw many Nigerians queuing at the immigration waiting to be called upon by US border officers. I didn’t hear any one complain or throw insults. But back at MMA, they suddenly became impatient. Come and see abuse thrown at dutiful border officials. Similarly as we stepped out of the Arrivals, it was Nigerian soldiers and policemen harassing Nigerians who were waiting for their folks. In-fact they seized the car keys of some of us including that of my waiting friend just because he parked for some minutes. It was chaotic.


Oppression and impunity in Africa. People don’t have rights or their rights are constantly bruised. Only a few grammar-speaking tweeps express their e-rights via white-owned Twitter these days. Sorry I’m digressing.

I understand but do you mean we can’t get our Nigerian doctors to work like those we see on House and Grey’s Anatomy? And our policemen to dress up and be polite like the Mets?

Haha. You sef. How much is our health budget? How much is a Nigerian doctor’s take-home versus how much does he spend. And police? Don’t even talk about them.

You don’t need to tell me that. I’ve had terrible experiences in my life in Nigerian hospitals. I know you doctors are trying your best but then you’ve found yourselves in Nigeria where most people believe their healthcare starts and ends with the poorly equipped doctor in the consulting and theatre rooms

How do you know this?

I know you doctors are just pawns in the chess game. You’re like foot soldiers that can be sacrificed to the angry mob. Good healthcare starts with people centred health system, great budgeting, robust health insurance and huge political will. Not in the consulting room. Not what we have currently in NHIS that barely covers 5% of citizens! I travel often and I’ve seen healthcare work.

God bless you for this! I wish the public realize this. But they don’t. Countless times doctors have been beaten and injured by patient relations for no fault of theirs. And guess their hazard allowance? 5000 Naira. He is on his own if he dies on or from duty.

Well that’s unfortunate, but to be honest, you guys are one of the highest paid workers in town. You know I am an employer.

My friend it’s not what you think. How can a doctor after 8 years of his precious life be offered 100k and only has two weekends to himself in a month.

Haba, my wife’s cousin collects 150k in Lekki.

She’s lucky she’s in Lagos. Elsewhere it’s 80k to 100k. And you know family responsibilities heighten once you are a doctor. But it’s all hoax.

How come you guys drive good cars?

Which kain good cars? Maybe some. But don’t be deceived by those young ones driving big cars o. Na their papa money. Or their rich importer-exporter husbands. Yes most of us have average cars, but check, we barely have savings.

Laughs. You have a point there but I think doctors should be taught how to diversify their stream of income. You should understand that they are at increasing risk by being dependent on salary alone.

This medicine is the only thing we know how to do brother. That’s why I think we are now leaving the country in droves especially younger ones like me. Even some older ones I know are joining the brain drain. Its not funny o. A young consultant infact advised that young doctors should leave. He tweeted “Go!”

Really? To where?

See you. To Saudi, U.K, U.S and Canada where the pay is far better. They can support their families and buy a house and own a decent car. What is baffling is that the politicians don’t seem to care about this efflux.

Why will they care? As long as they can go and meet them in UK and US for treatment. But aside, I think doctors generally don’t understand money and investing.

Even you? I read that in one of Rich Dad’s personal finance books. He jabbed doctors too much. He wrote that specializing means further screwing yourself financially. Although I don’t agree with that.

I partly agree with him because I have always wondered why most doctors don’t think of other things they can do after graduating other than specializing or Residency as you call it. Don’t they know that MBBS is only a first degree? Infact I am surprised that you read finance books o. You must be one of the very few.

We were told that to be a complete doctor you must specialize. But things are changing now. I have colleagues in the financial sector, oil and gas, branding, digital marketing, health management and innovations, photography, ancillary services and more

Good! That’s what I’m talking about.

It was so bad one Professor told us that doctors are known for only two things that cannot change. Reading big medical books and sex.

Hahahaha, maybe he was right o. You doctors are really the big players in the other room. Infact you have many rooms. Even we travellers and bankers are learning from you.

It’s all assumption. I, for instance, don’t do such. I’m born again.

That’s you my friend. One drop in an ocean. It’s a known fact. Okay just recently a doctor was all over the papers over a messy affair with a nurse. Forget jare.

Okay. No comment.

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