Nurses, Midwives Serve Nigerian Nursing Council Pre-Action Notice, Insist On Reversal Of Stringent Requirements For Certificate Verification

nurses protest

Aggrieved Nigerian nurses and midwives have served the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) a pre-action notice insisting on the immediate reversal of the Council’s revised stringent guidelines for verification of certificate(s).

Ugamatv had reported that health workers under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives staged a protest in Abuja against what they described as stringent verification certification guidelines released by the NMCN.

The nurses said the new rules were an attempt to hinder their freedom to pursue career opportunities abroad.

They urged the council to address issues affecting their welfare including salary scale, shortage of staff, and other rights.

The Council in a memo dated February 7, 2024, outlined what it called ‘revised guidelines and requirements’ to be met by all applicants seeking the verification of certificate(s) to foreign nursing boards/councils.

The memo was sent to the Commissioners/Secretary of Health Services; Chief Medical Directors/ Medical Directors; National President; Directors of Nursing Services; Heads of Department; Provosts & Principals; Coordinators; Zonal Officers; All States Ministry of Health & Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; University Teaching Hospitals/Specialist & Federal Medical Centre and National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, National Headquarters, Abuja.

It was also sent to the Ministries of Health, Hospitals Management Board; All States & Federal Capital Territory; All Universities Offering Nursing Programmes, Colleges of Nursing Sciences; Schools of Nursing & Midwifery; All Post Basic Nursing Programmes; All Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria Zonal Offices.

The aggrieved health workers in the pre-action notice dated February 22, 2024, received by the Council on February 23, 2024 and served through their counsel, Adelewa Williams of Adelewa Williams & Partners law firm asked the Council to desist from implementing the revised guidelines for verification of certificates.

The notice reads, “We are Counsel to Desmond Aigbe, Kelvin Ossai, Catherine Olatunji-Kuyoro, Tamunoibi Berry, Osemwengie Osagie, Abiola Olaniyan, Idowu Olabode, and Olumide Olurankinse (Acting for themselves and on behalf of other Nigerian trained nurses and midwives affected by the ‘Revised Guidelines for Verification’) (hereinafter referred to as Our “Clients”) and on whose behalf and instruction we write to you this letter.

“It is trite, that the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (hereinafter refers to as the “Council” was established by an Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of training and regulation of nursing and midwifery profession in Nigeria.

“In furtherance of the above, verification by Council was setup to authenticate and confirm the qualifications of nurses and midwives intending to seek career progression in all ramifications (clinically, administratively, research or otherwise)

“The essence of “verification of Certificate” of an applicant by the Council, is hence primarily to confirm, authenticate, or affirm that such applicant has complete his/her training from approved institutions, licensed to practice the profession and/or has not been disqualified.

“The Council in performing its statutory duties as stated above has always regulated the verification process of Nigerian trained nurses and midwives to which effect the guideline currently in force was issued on 21 May, 2021 and provides for a 3-stage process namely:

“a. 1st Stage: The Applicant uses his/her RN of RM number and email address to start the application for verification online; b. 2nd Stage: Payment of approved fee using card or online banking; c. 3rd Stage: filing of the application form and upload to the required document on the Council’s portal then submit.

“This particular procedure which came to effect on 25 May, 2021 has been effective assisting Nigerian trained Nurses and Midwives intending to secure career and training opportunities. Comparatively, the new guidelines published in the Council’s memo dated 7th February 2024 on the contrary provides:

“a) Applicants will no longer be allowed verification and practice in foreign country, save upon completion of 2 years of post-qualification experience from the date of the issuance of permanent practicing license.

“b) Applicant must compulsorily stick to their employer for the period of 2 years for purpose of securing verification of certificates, even if such applicant is not paid by his employer or does not get a job satisfaction.

“c) Unemployed applicant cannot apply for verification of their certificate, since a letter of good standing must emanate from the applicant’s place of work.

“d) The Council is now setting the criteria for employment of Nigerian nurses for foreign employers and training institutions, since the applicant must compulsorily obtain a letter of good standing from their place of work; a criterion that may not be requested by the foreign board(s).

“e) The fate of the applicant is placed in the hands of the Chief Executive Officer of applicant’s place(s) of work, and where such officer refused to give such letter, they applicant will be left with no remedy.

“f) Applicant who wants to seek education or additional skills/training in foreign universities will not be allowed verification, save they have completed the compulsory two years of work in Nigeria.”

The nurses and midwives described the policy as being in “sharp conflict with the Council’s policy of mandatory continuing education programs for nurses and midwives wherein healthcare practitioners are enjoined to frequently update the knowledge in healthcare field with a view to enhance the quality of healthcare delivery”.

The pre-action notice further reads, “Evidently, the ‘Revised Guidelines’ for verification is unconstitutional, arbitrary in nature, designed in bad faith and against the interest of the nursing and midwifery profession and its practitioners, and in utter disregards of the fundamental human rights of Nigerian trained nurses and midwives as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as well the Nurses and Midwifery Act of Nigeria Act in a bid to prevent the migration of Nigerian trained nurses and midwives from pursuing career and training opportunities in a foreign land which in effect infringes the Constitutional rights to freedom of movement of these Nigerian trained nurses and midwives.

“It is instructive to mention that the directives contained in the ‘Revised Guidelines’ are contrary to the Migration for Employment Convention (C97) which Nigeria has ratified as a member state of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“We have therefore on behalf of our Clients issued this pre-action notice in compliance with the Public Officer Protection Act of Nigeria, demanding that the Council cease and desists from the implementation of the new repugnant guidelines which from all indication is not designed for the interests of the profession and its practitioners but to serve the self-interest of some individuals against that of the nurses, midwives and the Council entirely.

“Furthermore, our client demands that the Council issue a memo retracting the memo of 7th February, 2024 within Seventy-Two (72) hours of service of this notice on the Council. Failure which an action shall be instituted against the Council seeking the nullification of the repugnant ‘Revised Guidelines’.

“We trust that the Council shall heed wise counsel and not foist of the profession and its practitioners such repugnant, inhumane and unconstitutional guidelines for verification of nurses and midwives.”