AN ADDRESS BY CHIEF (HON.) NURSE SOLOMON E.O. EGWUENU FNHR, FCAI, THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF UNIVERSITY GRADUATES OF NURSING SCIENCES ASSOCIATION (UGONSA) ON THE OCCASSIONOF EXPANDED NATIONAL STAKEHOLDERS MEETING HELD AT CABRINI CENTRE, NEAR FEDERAL NEUROPSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL, ENUGU, ENUGU STATE ON SATURDAY JUNE 3RD, 2017.
Professional colleagues, I wish to most sincerely welcome all of you to this historical gathering of the present and future torch bearers of Nigerian “DREAM NURSING PROFESSION”. May I at this point appreciate, honour and praise the Almighty God for granting us all journey mercies from our different destinations to Enugu, the coal city, for this epoch making gathering.
I must not fail to appreciate and pay worthy and deserved tributes to you all, the industrious and progressive nurses that have made all our struggles and efforts in liberating the Nigerian Graduates Nurses not only fruitful but worthwhile and efficacious. Even when I was incapacitated by ailment the struggle continued strongly in my absence. I cannot thank you enough!
When I cast my mind back and reflect through the memory lane from the time few Nurses gladiators stood firm and resuscitated our ailing Graduates Nurses Association of Nigeria (GNAN) through to the official registration of GNAN as UGONSA, and the protracted struggles that preceded our realization of internship training programme for our fresh graduates, we surely have much cause to glorify the Lord for the journey so far.
However, my beloved professional colleagues – there is so much work to do as there are so many intrinsic and extrinsic, intra-professional and inter-professional forces and detractors out to negate our aspirations and impede our growth and development. This gloomy situation notwithstanding, we must appreciate the spiritual and psycho-social fact that one with God is not only a majority but irrepressible. Our mission and cause are just and our struggles and desires are divinely guided.
The main goal of UGONSA is essentially that the Nigerian Graduates of Nursing Sciences must be given their place of pride like their contemporaries in the western world. It is today not only real but a fact that Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams is the Surgeon General of the United States of America. It is also a fact that this is not the first time a nurse in the United States is occupying such an exalted position. Before her, there has been a Nurse-Physician Surgeon General, Dr Richard Carmona, who preferred his identity as a Nurse.
Today in Nigeria, there is an unhealthy monopoly and professional oppression in our health system. This situation has promoted mediocrity over meritocracy and has stunted the growth and development of our healthcare services. It has equally incapacitated inter-disciplinary co-operation and mutual knowledge sharing and research for clinical practice and education that leaves our health system in a despicable situation.
There is no doubt, professional colleagues – that the problems’ facing nursing and the healthcare system in Nigeria is like an Augen stable, which would be difficult to clear. However, when the immediate past President of the United States, Barrack Obama, embarked on the journey of the becoming the President of America, a seemingly impossible post for a “Blackman”, he made the world to appreciate the two words phrase “WE CAN”. We all should draw our strength from this phrase “WE CAN” for I surely know and believe that truly “WE CAN”. It is in the light of this that I draw our attention to the enormous tasks ahead.
I have earlier emphasized the fact that there is so much to be done to take nursing to its proper place of pride and the Graduates of Nursing Science to the pilot’s seat of not only the health system but the country in general. May I therefore agitate our minds a little bit by raising the following questions:
- When shall a graduate of Nursing Science with adequate academic credentials become the provost of a college of Health Sciences?
- When shall a graduate of Nursing Science serve this nation as the substantive (Federal) Minister of health?
- When shall a professor of Nursing become the Vice Chancellor of any of the Nigerian universities?
- When will the Graduate Nurse be the chairman of a Board or Governing Council of a Federal University Teaching Hospital?
- When shall a Graduate Nurse become the Chairman of a State Hospital Management Board?
- When shall a Graduate Nurse head a State or Federal parastatal or MDA?
- How much are the nurses or the graduate nurses involved in policy formulation and implementation in our health system, even on issues that concern us?
- When shall nursing practice, education and administration be freed from the hegemonic grip of Chief Medical Directors?
- When shall the deliberate marginalization, and ridiculing of the nurses and nursing profession by the “powers that be” be brought to an end and made actionable and punishable in law?
- When shall “news writers” and “movie producers” stop their ferocious unprovoked onslaught on the public image of nursing, which they have penchant for projecting in bad light?
- When shall the nursing profession be represented by its first eleven, under the umbrella of a worthy, respected and reputable professional association?
The questions seem endless and just but a few of the areas that require prompt, purposeful and effective result- oriented attention were merely highlighted.
I raised these issues to agitate our minds and stimulate critical thinking and reasoning for proactive and conscious actions because I have no fear in my mind that UGONSA has the human resources that would surely make the positive changes and help guide nursing to its place of pride and respectability in Nigeria. Once more, may I appreciate you all for your contributions and tenacity. May I finally say kudos to our able National Secretary, Nurse Nshi Goodluck. He is indeed an indefatigable torch bearer, and a man with medas touch. May God continue to bless you all!