The expectation is high. Perhaps much too high for a mortal being…and the task enormous, but the embattled Nigerian electorate so thirsted for a change deep and thorough that they voted President Muhammadu Buhari into office as the last credible man standing in the long list of recycled wastrels called politicians.
Someone mentioned that Buhari is the best of the extremely bad bunch of former leaders, but he has the people’s confidence and mandate, nevertheless.
The decay of the Nigerian psyche is so deep that few remnants that still consider the fear of God and sanctity for honest and upright living are perplexed.
Just how the leaders and the led sunk so deep is a question no one alive is likely ever to answer with any degree of certainty.
When the current governor of Kaduna state, El Rufai scribbled a note to his friend, Pst Tunde Bakare, stating that corruption in Nigeria has sunk so deep that it is beyond any human capacity to cure, the decay in high and sensitive places unfolding every single day is proving the governor’s assertion an understatement.
The statistics are mindboggling; where would President Muhhamadu Buhari start from?
Fake drugs, fake doctors
How do one salvage a nation already conditioned to influx of imported fake drugs, to the knowledge of and connivance by government agencies charged to check such menace – not to mention drugs being adulterated and repackaged in the country also to the knowledge of neighbours and family members of the perpetrators?
Nigerians have not recovered from the shock of the arrest by security operatives in Abuja mid last year of one Martins Okpeh, a 44-year-old secondary school certificate holder who stole the credentials of his childhood friend, Dr. George Davidson, a practising medical doctor in Jos.
That is not the shock: Okpeh was found to have adopted the identity of Dr Davidson and used the doctor’s medical papers to secure employment in the Federal Ministry of Health and, believe this: the ordinary secondary school leaver successfully impersonated the medical doctor in the nation’s medical body for all of nine years.
Before his arrest, the fake doctor had even risen to become the chairman of a branch of the Nigerian Medical Association! (NMA). How bad can a system get, even a sensitive one like a healthcare delivery organ of the nation?
Also in the same year, a former Vice-President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Akintokunbo Oluwole at a special court sitting to mark the opening of the 2015/2016 Legal Year in Akure, announced that the NBA discovered some 1,000 fake lawyers through the association’s stamp policy inaugurated on April 15 2015.
“It was a rude shock, an affront to the hallowed judicial structure and a shame to the nation, to say the least,” said a thoroughly vexed Barrister Peace Akpabio.
While not defending the affront, Oluwole noted that quackery had eaten deep into the fabric of the legal profession and vowed that the ugly trend must be addressed immediately.
According to him, fake lawyers have even devised various means to scuttle the implementation of stamp policy without success.
Quacks in IT
A writer for the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Ogunshola recently reported an infiltration of quacks in the Information Technology sector. In his report, Ogunshola quoted Prof. Vincent Asor, President, Council of Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria who expressed concern about the rate of increase of quacks in Information Technology.
The many faces of quackery
Revealing the many forms of quackery, Professor Asor classified the first category as people who are true professionals but still engage in the act of quackery.
“Then we have people who are not professionals, but claim to be professionals and engage in the act of quackery.
“Next we have those people who are not anywhere and they come to learn the trade and, because of their intelligence, they engage in the act of quackery,” Asor said.
Corroborating Asor’s analysis, civil engineer, Friday Chukwu, confirmed that there are such categories of people described by the Professor in building industry, regretting that the activities of such quacks have led to cases of building collapse in many parts of the country.
“In Lagos alone, more than 140 building collapse cases have been reported over the past seven years; an average of 20 reported cases per year,” he said.
He cautioned the public not to assume that every person handling building tools at construction sites is an engineer.
Mr. Chukwu revealed that the issue of premature loading was largely responsible for building collapse in some cases.
“Premature loading is when an engineer does not allow a casting to dry to the specified period to gain the required strength before laying another structure on it,” he said and added that no professional builder who went through the course would make such blunder.
Quacks in the media
It would be recalled that Mr. Abdul-Waheed Odusile, during the campaign preceding his election as President of Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), stressed the need for leaders in all media houses to fight quackery.
Odusile at the time said that it was necessary for the leadership of NUJ to be credible, noting that prospective members of the union should be properly screened to avoid quackery.
He vowed however that he would flush out quacks from the profession and appealed to stakeholders to help in that regard.
“The NUJ would need the support of government, especially the lawmakers, in making a legislation to deal with the menace of quackery in the profession,” Odusile said.
The problem is the Nigerian
The real cause of quackery in professional bodies in the country was revealed by the Surveyor-General of the Federation, Prof. Peter Nwilo who indicted the Nigerian society for contributing largely to the prevalence of quackery in most professions in the country.
Speaking in Abuja recently, Prof. Nwilo said, “The habit of craving for and patronising cheap things encourages quackery because Nigerians just love to price professional services low.
“Those who accept to do professional jobs at cheap rates turn out to be non-professionals who pretend to offer professional services but cannot be held responsible since they are not registered by the appropriate authorities,’’ Nwilo said.
Sealing the cracks
For all it is worth, Alhaji Bello Mahmud, the Registrar General of Corporation Affairs Commission, in a statement on the quackery situation in professional bodies said that the commission would collaborate with other regulatory and professional bodies to check the activities of quacks.
With its grievous effects on the society, the NMA says it will sponsor an anti-quackery bill that will give legal backing to the fight against it in the medical profession.
With so little coming too late in the ministry of health, Mr. Osahon Enabulele, President of the Nigerian Medical Association acknowledged the grievous effects of quacks in the body and promised he will come up with programmes that would enable it to declare war on quackery ‘soon’.
Observing that the effects of quackery on the society were enormous and often caused untold hardship to the citizenry, Enebule said “Part of the programme would be to sponsor an anti-quackery bill in the National Assembly to get legal backing for the fight against quackery.
Also waking up to the call, Registrar of the Surveyors Council of Nigeria, Mr. Winston Ayeni, informed that the council has been making efforts with some agencies and state governments to check the high prevalence of quackery by moderating the fees charged by professionals.
Stakeholders and analysts alike are far from impressed at these needle-and-thread moves to stitch holes that have become too wide and far too many.
“The direct and possible side effects of quackery, especially in sensitive regions like healthcare and medicine is deliberate deception with its consequence as extreme as death,” said a source that spoke in confidence.
“You wouldn’t know what dilemma you face when you have a health condition and a fake doctor administers fake drugs on you. Allowing that loophole on the citizenry is the height of irresponsibility on the part any government,” the source lamented.