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Archbishop Blames Government for Relocation of Nigerian Medics to Western Countries

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama administering the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Dominic's Parish of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Many doctors and other health professionals in Nigeria are leaving the country in search of better working conditions elsewhere, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja has observed and blamed the situation on poor governance of the west African country.

In his Sunday, August 8 homily, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama notes that levels of poverty have increased in Nigeria and that people can no longer endure the suffering. He says that the situation has been aggravated by the strike of medics who have cited poor working conditions.

“It is disheartening that we repeatedly hear stories of killings, acts of inhumanity and barbarism such as cutting down food crops in farmlands, burning and looting houses and property. Many of our people are being ravaged by poverty. As if that is not enough, we now have the strike of the National Association of Resident Doctors compounding an already worrisome situation of hunger due to the escalating prices of food stuff,” Archbishop Kaigama says.

He adds, “The doctors are striking over their pay, insurance benefits and the need to improve medical facilities.”

According to the Archbishop of Abuja, it has become normal for the Nigerian government to dilly dally in finding the best solutions until people have died or suffered irreversible damages.

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He says that frequent industrial actions of various professional groups reflect the poor attention given to workers with very sensitive responsibilities.

“It is not surprising therefore that many of our doctors are happily taking job opportunities in European countries and beyond, where their services are needed and valued,” the Archbishop says, and adds, “It appears not to disturb our authorities that we are losing many health experts, not because they want to leave the country, but because they don’t experience any job satisfaction.”

In Nigeria, the effort of healthcare providers to serve patriotically is not reciprocated by a conducive working environment and appropriate remuneration and incentives, Archbishop Kiagama says.

“We hope the third wave of COVID-19, which is here and infections and fatality rates are on the increase, will convince the government to swing into positive action to see that the resident doctors resume their duties, with the needed medical measures taken to save lives,” he says.

Making reference to Sunday’s first reading about Prophet Elijah who was fed by the Angel, Archbishop Kaigama said, “Elijah became strengthened by that food to walk the journey of forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.”

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He added, in reference to the first reading, “Sometimes even the strongest among us can experience not only physical hunger but also spiritual weakness.”

“In the challenging times today, we feel discouraged, because the journey of life has become rough and the storms violent,” the Nigerian Archbishop said, and added, “Many people have problems with school fees, feeding, clothing and lack of employment. Some even wish in their hearts not to be alive to face the problems of today.”

The Local Ordinary of Abuja assures the people God in the West African country that God comes to those who are suffering in the form of friends, Priests, colleagues to help them.

“God comes to us above all in His word and Holy Communion to comfort us. He alone is the medicine that can calm our fears and renew our strength for the journey ahead of us. This is why the holy body and blood of Christ is also called Viaticum meaning, food for the journey,” Archbishop Kaigama says.

He further says that what Nigeria needs at the moment is hope to be able to trust in the country’s leadership again.

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“Hope is the most important commodity we all need at the moment. We need hope to trust again in our political leaders. We need hope to trust again in the dream of a better Nigeria, and we must rise above the clouds of hopelessness, anger and division and engage ourselves in constructive thinking and action,” Archbishop Kaigama says.