The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, says doctors who feel they want to relocate in search of greener pastures are free to do so as the nation has enough medical personnel.
The minister was responding to a question on brain drain and the deliberate recruitment of Nigerian doctors by foreign embassies in Nigeria to the detriment of the nation’s health sector.
In his response, however, Ngige, who is also a medical doctor, said there was nothing wrong with doctors leaving the country as they would continue to send foreign exchange home which could, in turn, grow the economy.
He said, “No, I am not worried (about doctors leaving the country). We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export. It happened some years ago here. I was taught chemistry and biology by Indian teachers in my secondary school days.
“There are surplus in their country and we also have surplus in the medical profession in our country. I can tell you this. In my area, we have excess.
“Who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out. When they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here. Yes, we have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil.”
“Will you call that brain drain? I know a couple of them who practise abroad but set up medical centres back home. They have CAT scan, MRI scan which even the government cannot maintain. So, I don’t see any loss,” he said.
Nine in every 10 Nigerian doctors are considering work opportunities outside Nigeria. And it is projected to keep rising as doctors continue to face systemic challenges, according to NOI polls.