By Tochukwu Ezukanma
One of my recent articles, “The problem with the striking doctors”, elicited a number of responses from my readers. Some of them called me on the phone, some texted in their messages and others e-mailed me. They were almost evenly divided between those who thought the article was apropos and those who thought it was impertinent, and even, senseless. One of them, most likely, a medical doctor, was evidently angered by the article; he was quite caustic in his text message. He wrote, “Whoever you are and to whichever paramedical profession you belong, till your death, unless, of course, you go to medical school (which I doubt much if at all your, obviously, dull brain can help you out) you will never earn the respect or the prestigious status of a House Officer.
I do not know what a House Officer is but it must be one of the designations or titles of medical doctors. Deviating from my policy of not replying to rejoinders to my articles, I text messaged him, “I am not into any of the paramedical professions. My degrees are in urban & regional planning.Every element of freedom comes with a corresponding responsibility. So, the doctors’ respect and prestigious status should be associated with decency and elevated morals and ethics (on the part of the doctors). Lamentably, Nigerian doctors (sometimes) behave like brutes and sadists”.
Yes, every element of freedom, authority, power, prestige, etc is attended with a corresponding responsibility. But due to the Nigerian factor – lawlessness and its ancillaries: might is right, desiring glory without achievement, expecting harvest without plough, etc – we relish prestige, power and authority but abdicate their attendant responsibilities and obligations. Instead of being humbled by the added obligations and demands of our eminent positions, we see our lofty status as license to further our selfish interests, abuse the system and exploit others.
The excellencies and the honorable are the select few, elected to lead, and are, therefore, entrusted with the fate – life or death, happiness or tragedy, prosperity or poverty – of millions of people. As they are excellent and honorable, they should transcend societal vices, and the mediocrity and pedestrianism of convention life. They should be disciplined and content, and thus, not readily susceptible to the lures and sirens of life; and consequently, incorruptible and fiscally honest. They are also expected to be honorable enough to resign their offices when, for any reason, they fail to live up to the excellence demanded by their exalted offices or breech the public trust reposed in their offices. For example, in South Korea, the prime minister, Chung Hong-won, resigned over the government’s dishonorable handling of a ferry sinking that has left more than 300 people dead or missing.
In Nigeria, the power elite fastidiously cling to sanctimonious titles like the Excellency and the Honorable, while in words and deeds, they remain the mediocre and the dishonorable.
At the total disregard of those that elected them to office and whom they supposedly serve, they exercise their powers in advancing narrow and selfish interests, exploiting the system and economically strangulating the masses. They waste public funds and maintain extravagant and luxurious lifestyles that will flabbergast even the powerful, rich and famous of the wealthiest countries in the world. They misconstrue their immunity for impunity. And thus, expect to do anything (and actually, do anything) and get away with it, because they are neither subject to the law nor beholden to the people.
In the churches, the revered gentlemen, with the veneration and prestige of their offices, hold sway. Supposedly called (by God) and anointed, they pretend to be all knowing and flawless. But then, they, generally, fail to live up to the enormous responsibilities of their offices.
To reinforce their powers and control over their members and to dispossess them of their money, they lie and twist the word of God. Deliberately oblivious of the desperate, gateless poverty that dominates the lives of the generality of their members, they build their financial empire and maintain an awe-inspiring life style of magnificent mansions, fleet of luxury cars, private jets and the indulgence of other avaricious fancies. Instead of leading people to the Truth, they lead them farther away from the Truth. Not surprisingly, the more religious the Nigerian society becomes, the more it is full of hate, cruelty, lawlessness and violence.
In spite of our excessive religiosity, is the Nigerian society, including the churches, not suffused with wickedness, selfishness and immorality?Like the excellent, honorable and revered, the special – the princes and princesses of the health professionals – that is, the Nigerian medical doctors, hardly live up to the demands and expectations of their lofty professional status.
Paradoxically, although sworn to the Hippocratic Oath and with a leading role in an industry that is premised on compassion, kindness, altruism, etc, some Nigerian medical doctors, in their conduct, display mindboggling cold-heartedness, degradation of man and contempt for human lives. There are many substantiated stories detailing their cruelty, sadism and contemptuous indifference to human lives. In addition, engrossed by the get rich quick mentality of the Nigerian society, they jettison professional standards, and sometimes, break the law for quick money. There have been cases and allegations of downright criminality amongst the doctors.
Like the Nigerian political and spiritual power elites and other Nigerians in positions of power and influence, it behooves the Nigerian medical doctors to not just revel in the prestige and glory of their profession but to also rise to the high morals and ethics demanded of their esteemed profession.
Tochukwu Ezukanma via firstname.lastname@example.org