By Frank Tietie
There is a trending video online where the Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole suggests that not all qualified doctors can become specialists but as a matter of reality, some of them should aspire to become farmers and politicians. In fact, the Honourable Minister takes pride in his excellent tailor who happens to be a qualified medical doctor.
Over the years, I have seen an inexplicable increase in the number of qualified professionals in various fields, including law and medicine, taking to new careers in pastoring, music, fashion, marketing, journalism, banking, farming and indeed, politics. That is an expression of a crisis of career, vocation, passion and responsibility. It is confusion! It is irresponsible!
University admission spaces for professional courses such as law, engineering, pharmacy, accounting and especially medicine are extremely competitive. It therefore amounts to irresponsibility for any person to take up such spaces of training and expenditure of huge financial resources only to choose to devote his life to practising another career completely different from his professional qualification or prefers to remain at a basic level, refusing to specialise. Such a person’s claim to being driven by passion is just an excuse for irresponsibility.
Why would anyone deprive others by taking up a highly restricted training space to qualify as a medical doctor and then refuse to practice medicine? It is incongrous for such a qualified medical doctor to take pride in being a politician not having any progressive, practical experience of administering medical know-how to the benefit of anybody in the society. Is there any profession called medical-politics?
Any person who has been qualified by any professional training institution is bound to practise that profession to the benefit of the society. That informed the motto of the great University of Benin, ‘Knowledge for Service’.
Every qualified professional is indebted to the society, his qualifying institution and the State to the extent of ensuring that he or she must practise his profession to the benefit of the society.
Except for supervening reasons, failure by qualified persons to practise their professions must be censured by the people as irresponsibility, laziness and the tyrannical drive of profit, pleasure and comfort.
All the professions are so wide that each of them can accommodate any kind of career passion in order to avoid the waste of knowledge and the deprivation of other persons who had real commitment and would have utilized such opportunities to the advancement of the profession and the society.
While the public service has accommodated a few professionals, other sectors of the society have more than enough spaces to give room for the use of qualified professional persons.
Permit me please to humbly use myself as an example of what I consider the moral and social imperative to discharge the responsibility as a qualified professional. Despite being a person with a strong passion for the arts of music and broadcasting, I have with great efforts remained as lawyer, having been qualified as one. Thus, inspite of my passions, my primary career assignment is to discharge my responsibilities to the public as a qualified lawyer before creating other avenues for the expression of my passion for music and broadcasting.
I would consider it as a minus and a serious disservice to the society for me to abandon legal practice and take to broadcasting for reasons such as ease, allure or financial reward.
Thus, since I took up that space of training and became qualified as a lawyer , I owe humanity a duty to discharge that responsibility, not only driven by profit but the need to serve the society that afforded me the opportunity to become a qualified lawyer.
Thus, whatever I would do within the ambits of the law, I would remain a practising lawyer, even in the harshest of conditions up to that point where I am called to the other dimension of life.
A more perfect example of my point therefore, is the person of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. He is a distinguished lawyer and senior advocate yet he is also an accomplished pastor and politician. At a recent NMA event, Prof Osinbajo mocked the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, a very qualified doctor, by expressing doubt whether anyone would ever take his medical case to Saraki since he is now more of a politician than a medical doctor.
The Honourable Minister of Health has a responsibility to encourage every qualified medical doctor to remain as a practising doctor. It is disgraceful for an academic and public servant of his high repute to advise qualified doctors to abandon medicine and take to farming or politics. If such persons wanted to be farmers or politicians, they ought not to have deprived other persons who had genuine commitment to practising medicine, the opportunity of being trained as medical doctors and to continue unto becoming specialists.
It is my sincere hope that Nigerian Medical Association would address the Honourable Minister appropriately.
Indeed, the Honourable Minister of Health has committed a faux pas- a real social blunder!
▪Tietie, a lawyer and Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER), wrote from Abuja.