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SURGEON GENERAL? PRESIDENT JONATHAN; DO THE NEEDFUL OR TENDER YOUR RESIGNATION LETTER ASAP

Fejiro Oliver

Constant attention by a good Nurse may just be as important as a major operation by a surgeon

Dag Hammarskjold
President Jonathan is surely a man that loves courting controversy; searching for troubles where there is none and at the end gets his fingers burnt and finally he blames his political opponents, Social Media critics and online Journalists for his woes. The regrettable thing is that haven wooed the entire problem; he gets entangled in a web of quagmire which ropes him and throws him off balance. What manner of New Year gift is this to Nigerians? Such is the type of President many of us will be regretting for standing under the scorching sun to cast our precious votes.


For the record, I am neither a media consultant to JOHESU nor any health union, neither have I defended them beyond the basic facts of the issues arising out of the current brouhaha in the health sector. I have also had cause to defend many physicians within the scope of their job and will always do. So let it be!
The crisis in the health sector is still boiling and yet our President who doesn’t give a damn has concluded plans to create an irrelevant office called ‘Surgeon General’ for Nigeria and Nigerians. This certainly is no good plan as many will think; certainly not. This is another office meant to siphon public funds by the Presidency and his band of looters. I have spent three good days consulting all over the world on who an SG is and no one has given a good reason why Nigeria should have such bogus position. Not even the majority of the physicians see any need for such apart from the elites who will fight over it.
Going through the comments in various newspapers that have their presence online; it is evident that Nigerians do not want such a position. More criminal is the clause that it is the exclusive preserve of Medical Doctors. This is where whoever constructed the bill got it wrong. This is where we know that our President must have his PhD queried if he does not know that the SG is an all inclusive position for all medical staffs that are clinically inclined. Here we go.
The SG is a position created exclusively for the military in 1798 when the US Congress established the US Marine Hospital Service. Originally, the corps was composed only of physicians. As medicine became complicated with the realization that most of the injured war victims do not always need surgery but Physiotherapy, Nurses attention or only taking of drugs provided by the pharmacists, the position of the SG was made open to any of the officers in the Medical Command (MEDCOM) who must be a lieutenant General. Thus on December 7th 2011, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho. RN was sworn in as the first woman and first NURSE to officially be in command of the Army’s largest medical organization. That day proved to the world that the appointment was no longer based on medical first degree but most qualified among all the health workers. 

At the ceremony, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, said the impact of the Army surgeon general goes well beyond the Army to the “national and international level.”
“This position requires a special officer that can lead change and achieve unity of effort in the dynamic, joint interagency and also in a multinational role working with our allies and partners around the world,” he said.
Horoho previously served simultaneously as the U.S. Army deputy surgeon general and 23rd chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Science in Nursing as a clinical trauma specialist from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a resident graduate of the Army’s Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, where she earned a second Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy.

Another Nurse who served as the SG was Gale Pollock after the then Army SG, General Kevin kIley resigned due to the controversial Walter Reed Army Medical Centre Scandal in 2007
A policy change in 1996 made it possible for someone other than a physician to serve as the Army surgeon general, according to the Army Medical Command. The policy reads that “the surgeon general may be appointed from officers in any corps of the Army Medical Department and, while so serving, has the grade of lieutenant general.” The President should automatically get this policy change as soon as possible.
Mr President, it is the words of General Raymond that I bring to you today. He never said the position required a special medical doctor or a special surgeon but a “special officer”. To further prove this point, a Pharmacist is the current Deputy Surgeon General by name, Rear Admiral Scott F. Gibberson, and should the current SG resigns or exit under any circumstance; Gibberson, a Pharmacist will take over the hallowed position. The system we wish to copy must be copied completely with the position made open to all medical workers.

The arrogance of a profession who swims in delusion of self importance should not becloud the generality of Nigerians who have seen far than they do. Taking a look at the bill sent to the Senate smacks of selfishness with roles that has already render the position of the Health Minister useless. 
“He/She shall articulate scientifically based health policy analysis, and advise the President, National Assembly, and the Minister of Health on the full range of critical Public health, medical and health system issues facing the Nation.
 He/She shall elevate the quality of health practice in the professional disciplines through the advancement of appropriate standards and research priorities.
He/She shall provide leadership and management oversight in National emergency preparedness and response i. e coordinate health and medical services delivery during national disasters.
He/She shall fulfill statutory and customary functions on a wide variety of Federal Boards and Government bodies as required by appropriate representation.
He/She shall promote health and healthy life styles by adherence to norms and standards, this he shall do by providing guidelines on health matters that affect the citizenry”

“The Surgeon-General of Nigeria (SGN) shall appoint numbers of persons as Director or heads of various departments provided the appointment shall reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria” they say. Whose money will they waste for the SG to appoint his cronies as SA, PA, SSA, etc? An intern medical doctor recieves N180, thousand per month which a level 14 officer in most Federal civil service don’t get. As a junior resident, his take home pay is N273 thousand which is the salary of some directors in Federal civil service; and as a senior resident officer, his pay packet is N350 thousand monthly and a consultant takes home N800,000 thousand monthly while some gets as much as N1.6 million, which is an annual pay of many senior Federal civil servants, yet someone comes to drum into our ears that it is not true. If these people collects this outrageous sum in a country where we don’t pay tax on the things we spend like our counter parts abroad; how much will the SG collects monthly? N5 million or more monthly apart from the other loots that will be budgeted to run the office.
What other work does the Minister of health do other than the above listed for the proposed SGF? Whoever thought up this idea ought to be behind bar. To think that the SG will serve for tenure of six years when the President who appoints him stays for four years is certainly the works of men who wants to use the office to feather their next. Is the SG our problem in the health sector? A million of them cannot stop any Nigeria from going to seek medical treatment abroad. If I wish to go to Germany for treatment; it is my hard earned money and no SG can block the airport to stop me or any Nigerian from entering the next available plane to go to Germany. Why deceive ourselves that the SG can decide who goes abroad for medical treatment? No profession must be allowed the misadventure to ride on another like they are princes; just as no occupation should have her ego massaged for peace to reign. This attitude of masturbating the ego of all medical workers especially NMA must stop. If the SG must be created; then the sperm of justice must run through the embryo of all the clinical workers and not a selected few.
Can we stop this deception of creating this position that will further ground the health sector and focus on solving the ones on ground? The governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Suntai does not need surgery to come back on his feet today but physiotherapy. Do we then create the office of the Physiotherapy General? Do we need to remind ourselves that Obasanjo closeness to Senator Andy Uba is because he was rehabilitated by the latter who is a doctor of physiotherapy? Did he ask the then President to create a special post for his colleagues? Any attempt by Mr President to create this post will bring anarchy not just to the health sector but Nigeria as a whole. He should get ready to create the office of the tutor general, Reporter General, Engineer general, bricklayer general, Suya Man general, Banker General, Driver general, Pharmacist general, and even corruption general which will be headed by Stella Oduah, Alison Madueke or Goddey Orubebe. It is as serious as that. The President should focus on building of quality hospitals that will make our leaders get treated at home. It is a lie from the pit of abyss to tell Nigerians that medical tourism is due to the non availability of a Surgeon General. For crying out loud; only five countries arguably have the office of Surgeon General and we do not have to follow suit. Enough of this copy cat culture in us, when we have not finished copying how to practice the true democracy. It’s another sub-standard lie for NMA to Nigerians that Nigeria best brains in Medicine and Surgery are abroad. Oh my God, it means we all have been treated by quacks that are left in this country all these years. We are simply finished!
All other medical workers especially the Nurses and Physiotherapists are the worst hit as we have them practicing abroad more than the physician. There is brain drain in every sector and it is entirely not the fault of Nigeria, but personal decisions. Do we bring all the health workers registered in their various boards to confirm this claim?
We certainly do not have money to waste on this borrowed post that is coming to duplicate the minister of health. Come to think of it, which of our medical worker in the Armed Forces is up to the rank of a Lieutenant General? If we must copy anything America, we must also copy their prudent way of spending and it has to begin from the budget. Any attempt to gag the president into creating this monster position without following the Americans whom we are borrowing it from will certainly prove to the world his weakness, and a weak man cannot govern a country like Nigeria. This is worse than the current challenge of the All Progressive Congress (APC), as it will indirectly affects the masses. What are we even saying? The bill has been brought to the Senate and House of Representatives and they in their wisdom have thrown it out. It went before the Justice Abdullahi Gusau Committee on Harmony in the Health Sector and was utterly rejected. This bill will certainly not see the day without the assent of the lawmakers, and if in whatever form it succeeds; Mr President should please tender his resignation letter should the health sector goes on strike. We do not live in an animal farm despite the President being a graduate of how to take care of animals.
It is still a rumor for now and President Jonathan can still warm his way back by dousing it and reassuring us that it will never come to pass; at least not in his regime and never should it be. Do the needful. Happy New Year pals.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver, a Journalist can be reached on secretsreporters@gmail.com and +2348026797588 (sms only please). Follow on twitter @fejirooliver86 and Facebook  fejirooliver86. Like our Facebook page – secretsreporters

20 COMMENTS

  1. the amount quoted for consultant is not correct, pls quote entry figures to allow for comparison. SGF is the best thing that has ever happen, as sanity will be restored in the medical sector. God bless Nigeria. God bless GEJ

  2. It isnt only 5 countries in the world that havee surgeon general! Name the 5 countries and don't talk like an illiterate!

    You only talked of office of the army surgeoan general. The navy also has a surgeosn general. The airforce also has a surgeon general. The entire nation of America has the Surgeon general of the united states.

    Visit this website and see more about the office of surgeon general of the US http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/

    Do us all a favor and stop being an AMLSN publicist. Portions of this article were lifted verbatim from Dr. Godwin Okara's comments on the Office of Surgeon General of Nigera.

  3. All medical interns earn almost the same salary.. You started your arguments well but ended it wrongly. tHe major challange with Nigerian health sector is that no one wants to respect eachother's job … Everyone is busy looking for ways to perform what the other is doing. And that's the simple reason there are quacks everywhere. All eyes are on medical doctors profession …this is not obtainable in other countries

  4. My dear writer,u shld get your information right and if you have a problem with medical doctors I would suggest u get a JAMB fom,fill medicine as ur course,scale through the required cut off mark,then sit down and study while paying ur tuition and buying your book,maybe when u r done with that.u can put up a better argument.

  5. Iroko, this Journalist had already published this article in this news site long before Dr Okara gave his speech. If you dont know him as a writer before now, just keep quiet. All he wrote are the truth. What other countries have sg apart from the 5 countries he said? I am a scientist and can tell you that Fejiro Oliver do not speak for us. Why dont you read nursing and medicine together so you can do all the works. Bunch of ego

  6. Who said all medical interns earn the same thing. You are living in the colonial era. We all dont earn the same thing my friend. A mbbs intern earns even more than a pharmacist who is a staff. Please bring another lie

  7. U see ! They are just as self-centred as their oga at the top. If u are sure of your figures place it side by side with d writer's with evidence for Nigerians to judge. It is not ur faults if not d clueless man given u voice. It is only inNigeria that a dr claims to be better than a pharmacist or a physiotherapist or a nurse in their own field of specialization…….NMA has no knowledge about professionalism or team work in d sector……just bunch of opportunists and supercilious quacks….mcheeeew

  8. NMA isnt interested in improving the facilities in the hospitals rather than their pockets, Not at all! Even their own training is deficit many a medical doctor-Nigerian trained are half baked to handle health consumers in real sense of the word-standard society. They hardly can make proper examination let alone a referral. Instead of addressing the numerous diseases afflicting the medical profession, They are going more in politics creating SGF office another conduit pipe of siphoning money accruing to the health sector. GEJ should have a rethink if he thought before agreeing to this gimmick.

  9. Why is there no argument about Accountant-General, Attorney General of the Federation? USA has Surgeon-General and this does not lessen health provision, it strengthens it. The office formulates health policy for the country. The office does not duplicate that of Health Minister. The health minister does not need to be a medical doctor. Arguably the best Secretary of State for Health in Britain was not a medical doctor. Aneurin Bevin established National Health Service in 1948. The office of SG would serve as clearing house for health ministry. I feel a medical doctor should occupy that office. There seems to be some sort of paranoia ranged against GEJ. Let's give him a break.

  10. What in hell are these Medical Practitioners going to think of next in their quest to plunder the nations' health into further chaos. I beg them in the name of God to think of the health of the people of this nation than always thinking of their pockets and their ego. For once they should see other professionals as professionals and that they are not the only ones in the health sector. That's my comment.

  11. The medical practitioners are very serious about destroying the health sector and that is why they are creating one office or the other taking over the jobs of the administrators because of their greed and ego. You can never find them in the clinics again because they are now in-charge of every administrative office in the hospital hence nobody is left to train the residents. Obviously, the crave for the office of surgeon general is majorly to regulate and decide the scope of practise of other health professionals which they did not succeed in doing with the national health bill yet. I can assure you that It will only worsen the already chaotic health sector in Nigeria as they have almost grounded it with their incompetent management skill.

  12. For once, i think these doctors need to sit down and reason like a human being. What in hell are these Medical Practitioners going to think of next in their quest to plunder the nations' health into further chaos.They should always think of the health of the people of this nation than always thinking of their pockets and their ego. At least for once they should see other health professionals as professionals and that they are not the only ones in the health sector.GEJ should consult wider outside the country especially the country that has Surgeon General before acceding to this foolish request so as not plunge the health sector into a huge mess.

  13. All I see here is jealousy…well, it's understandable because it is borne out of frustration. Many of you couldn't scale through the hurdles of medical college and resorted to the nearby paramedical profession. You should as well ask GEJ why there is the office of surveyor general…attoroney general …accountant general. Honestly, I envisage physiotherapist general…nursing general….medical cleaner general….medical records general….#9ja for life#

  14. There is a question doctors sould ask themselves,the little that were committed into their hand(as CMD,minister of health) how have they handled it,imagine a CMD employed over 1000 staff without employing a single doctor,nurses,pharmacist,med lab scientist etc.they re mainly destroyer of health sector.

  15. Apart from a few it appears to me that submissions here are from those with low mental power to comprehend the reasons for the creation of the office. Ask a woman in labor how she feels about nurses in labor ward. The answer is usually shocking. Everyday my wife always tell those who care to listen how she narrowly escaped death from the hands of nurses who deliberately refused to call the doctor to attend to her. All those criticizing the doctors should visit govt hospital and see the behavior of these workers. Some even hide your file especially when you try to assert your right. Just like the doctors not all are bad but on the average doctors are still more humane. The position approved by GEJ is not peculiar to Nigeria and must have some benefits. Lets try it and not throw it out. We need discipline in health sector. The minister of health is a politician and so may take political decisions.let a professional handle the hospitals and disasters and not someone grand standing to smite political opponents. Shelve your swords. Cheers

  16. y all this noise about surgeon general. in every job there is a leader and the hospital the leader is who. ithink every reasonable person knows. the doc connect the patient with every health worker

  17. Fejiro's logic is upside down; his facts are wrong; his figures are delusional; and his paymasters are easily decipherable. He needn't defend or shadow-box an unsubstantiated and inexistent accusation by saying that he is not a JOHESU media consultant. Or, is he suffering from guilty conscience?

    If a Consultant earns N1,600,000 monthly, how much does an army general ("equivalent" to a consultant in his profession) earn monthly? How much does a Navy Admiral take home monthly, a Senator, a Supreme Court Judge, all "equivalents"? If these men's earnings have not destroyed Nigeria's economy, along with the extra payload they take in tandem, as security escorts, gardners, drivers, cooks, free houses, wardrobe allowance, Christmas and Sallah bonuses, unrepayable brand new car gifts, etc. how then could a journalist, who should be a vanguard of equity and fair play, find faults with the pay of a Consultant?

    In which nation in the world does a doctor's pay get compared to a lab scientists', or pharmacists', or physotherapists', or nurses' under the same service whether public or private? Except, perhaps, in Fejiro's Nigeria.

    Fejiro keeps citing examples from nations he knows so little about, and worse is that he uses incoherent variables to do his dirty job. Or else, how could we be talking of a Surgeon-General for a nation and the man begins his comparisons with a Surgeon-General for the Navy, the first nurse to handle such a post after nearly 220years of existence?

    The slide in Fejiro's technique is always appalling and painful because he couches his false analogies bombastic grammar which sweeps away an unassuming reader searching for information. He, thereby, distorts historical facts and history itself, in a most mischievous way, a morale crime.

    No Consultant earns as much as Fejiro wrongly proclaimed, in our hospitals for just being "a Consultant", even though Consultants actually deserve to earn higher than their contemporaries in the Judiciary, Army and Legislature. So, once again, Fejiro has spread more falsehood.

    The position of Surgeon-General is imperative in our country because every Minister does the political bidding of his principal. We, therefore, need an apolitical but thorough-bred physician to take charge of the nation's health care, far removed from the politics of PDP and APC. He will be a physician whose pronouncements to the nation is based on up-to-date scientific research and fundamental understanding of the working processes of the human body.

    Just months ago, President Barack Obama, of Fejiro's USA, was courting Sanjay Gupta to become his country's Surgeon-General. This was not in the 18th Century (Fejiro cited 1798), but in this 21st Century. Dr Gupta is not an immigrant Indian nurse! Not at all. He is a Board-Certified US Neurosurgeon. I do not know what other analogy Mr Fejiro will draw from his verbose, threatening and empty JOHESU-sponsored write-up, about this Obama-Gupta incident.

    Nigerians should not buy a lie as being propagated by paid columnists of JOHESU.

    We, more than ever before, need a Surgeon-General in the country.

    Not long ago, we needed pronouncements on the health of a President of Nigeria, the capacity of a seating State Governor to continue in office, polio infection in Nigeria, bird flu, HIV/AIDS, antimalaria vaccine, drug syrups that killed several of our children, etc.but none was forthcoming because there was no de facto, Surgeon-General for our country. It is now time to appoint one.

    In conclusion, it is about time President Jonathan looks deeply to fully understand the true role of JOHESU as the health wing of his numerous opposition groups. This amorphous body, led by self-serving and unpatriotic men, who are most likely dissatisfied with their academic qualifications need to be nipped at this moment before they cause incalculable damage to our motherland.

  18. …….if u have problem with medical dr, get JAMB….. etc, this is what we call overrated bunch of fools who think they've performed more than everyone else just bcos they got JAMB, filled mbbs & scale thru d hurddles as if that's not what other professionals they're trying to downplay too had to do to be where they are. Yoruba adage that says when a talking drum is giving strange sound,it's about to tear apart will soon come to pass on this generation of Nigerian medical drs who think they must continue to blow their trumpet even when everyone is tired of their noise

  19. I find it sickening when someone that read med/surg feels he is doing anything great or special. I am an accountant and have read Fejiro report religiuosly. All the issues he has raised are what Nigerians have all said in the various media online. Imagine someone saying that a consultant is equal to an army general; what a dump statement. Consultant can be achieved within 8 to 10 years in medicine and you dare compare it to any of the top military men. soon they will say a consultant is like a bank manager. whatever you read is for your benefit and not anybody. you do not own the health sector, its a collective efforts, so stop the madness. If you have issues with the journalist, you tell us your own version and not come here to show your ignorance. physician my ass

  20. People talk about passing JAMB, restore sanity, one profession envious of another, please, please, please. Give me a break. I work in a teaching hospital and I am not in the rank and file you may think I belong to. The medical practitioners have had ancient roles of being the only professional group saddled with the responsibility of first contact but that is ancient. The world of medicine has advanced beyond the microscopic perspective of most exuberant, ego-driven,and self-seeking medical graduants in the last 2decades or so.
    The health of a nation is paramount and it is multifaceted, requiring more divergence in approach and should rank topmost on the minds of any well-meaning Nigerian professionals or medics. If one is contented with his job and enjoys doing it and feels he is getting appropriate remuneration why then try to peg others at a relative stratum thereby hindering their progress. Tell me what is good in that.!
    If a pilot commits an error in a Boeing 700 series,, he might end up killing close to 300 persons including himself and crew! The most a surgeon can do is if he is determined to commit murder kill say 6 persons per day if it takes him 4 hours per surgery per person. Don't you think the pilot,should earn more? There are more delicate professions with lesser remuneration and yet the nation has not crumbled because of pay rise.
    In the US, the office of the SG is open to all the core professions even as some argued is occurring after 220 years. The reality on ground remains that this is the status quo and Nigeria should be no different. You copy an advanced technology from the point of current state of performance and you develop from there Not go back to when we use stones to make fire and walk the rank to gas cooker and brag to the world that you have developed a gas cooker whereas the world is already at solar power technology in cooking! Please tell me : what is the rationale?

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