A SHORT HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT GENERAL MEDICAL AND DENTAL PRACTITIONERS (NAGGMDP)
The push to form this association occurred in 1991 when the Federal Government released circular 1 of 1991 which approved a separate salary structure (Medical Salary Structure (M.SS) for medical and Dental Practitioners in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, that circular contained a clause which stated that “If you were not a specialist (consultant), you could not rise beyond the level of M.S.S. IV which was equivalent to G.L. 12. This implied that the General Practitioner (G.P.) in the civil service would not be able to rise to the peak of his career (G.L. 16) which even graduates with a Bachelors degree in all other disciplines were getting to.
It also implied that doctors who are G.P.S would be denied all other priviledges and rights that go with being promoted beyond G.L. 12! It means they would be ineligible to be promoted to be Directors, Permanent Secretaries and even Head of Service. Administrative posts that all other graduates were being appointed to.
This clause was considered by all fair minded people as unfair, insultive, evil and wicked. It was the last straw that broke the camels back! It should not stand.
Dr. Adetoki M.A. who was then a Senior Medical Officer with the Osun State Government was inspired to take action.
He was convinced that what needed to be done to get the clause expunged as well as address other issues that have been militating against the G.P.s or would do so in the future was to form a national association of G.P.S that would be an affiliate of N.M.A just like NARD, MDCAN and AGPMP.N.
In 1992, Adetoki M.A. took up the task of selling this idea to his colleagues in Osun State. On his own, he visited all the hospitals in Osun State to canvass support for this idea.
He eventually succeeded in calling a meeting of all G.P.S in the service of Osun State. This maiden meeting was held at the State Hospital, Osogbo on the 7th of April, 1992. It was historic and well attended. From discussions at this meeting, it was obvious that there have been lots of unfair policies and practices that were against the interest of the G.P.S. in the civil service which were being painfully borne by our members. Hitherto, nobody had taken any such action that would universally and comprehensively address them on a sustainable basis. The initiative was applauded and approved.
At that meeting, an Executive Committee was elected with the most Senior Chief Medical Officer, Dr. C.B.F. Abiodun as the chairman. Dr. Adetoki was elected as the General Secretary as well as the National Coordinator. The post of National Coordinator was created to give him the necessary approval, recognition and political backing to reach out and rally other states of the Federation to join the association.
The name being used today was approved.
The National Coordinator with the support of other members started making contacts with G.P.S in other states. However, this was very difficult because of lean resources and poor telecommunications. Most expenditures were from personal resources.
Despite all these, they succeeded in getting cooperation from G.P.S. in adjoining states of Oyo, Ondo, Kwara, Ogun and Lagos.
Formal letters of formation of the association as well as petition on circular 1 of 1991 and request to expunge the offensive clause therein were written and sent through the Federal Ministry of Health to the Federal Government. All states governments, relevant and related agencies were copied. The Nigeria Medical Association and M.D.C.N were also written.
At this juncture, it is important to mention that whenever we wrote these letters, the National Coordinator had to travel to the adjoining states mentioned above to obtain signatures before they were sent. This was necessary to give our letters the desired national muscle.
Several such letters were written, several meetings were held in and outside Osun State. Despite the challenges, the pressure to expunge this clause was sustained till five years later (1996) when the Federal Government eventually released circular 1 of 1996 which expunged the evil clause.
It was a great victory for NAGGMDP!
Unfortunately, the joy and relief brought by this victory was so much that we virtually went to sleep on forming a truly functional, national association. Our members in Osun State continued to function well despite very stiff opposition from those who felt threatened by our existence. The National Coordinator continued to serve as a link to other states. We continued to support our members in the states to ensure implementation of the circular.
Other issues relating to the welfare of G.P.S which our members particularly at the state and Local Government levels have painfully borne over the years came up and they became easier to tackle under the umbrella of this association.
The issue of appointment of GPS to top administrative posts was very prominent and still remains so till date. This association has made tremendous progress on this ensuring that our members are given their due appointments as a matter of right and not priviledge.
Activities to form a truly national body remained low-keyed until 2001. During the A.G.M of the N.M.A in Benin City that year, the National Coordinator (Dr. Adetoki M.A.) who was then Osun State N.M.A Chairman made another effort exploiting the presence of doctors from all over the country to scout around for members from other states to join the fold.
The effort paid off and marked the turning point in the history of this association.
Meeting Dr. Akindele N. at the A.G.M in Benin City was a most rewarding experience as he expressed a high level of interest and passion for the project.
A national meeting of representatives of all the states was fixed and eventually held at the N.U.J. Press Centre, Osogbo, Osun State in July, 2001.
Present at that historic meeting were representatives from Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Kwara, Lagos, Osun, Ekiti and Delta States. That was the first time we would hold a national meeting and representatives would physically attend. Dr. Faduyile – the current N.M.A President was also present at that meeting.
At this meeting, the National Coordinator, Dr. Adetoki M.A. was elected as the President while Dr. A. Babatunde was elected as the General Secretary. Dr. Mrs. Adeniji was elected as the Treasurer. A position in which she served meritoriously till year 2010.
Also, a resolution that we should apply for affiliation with the Nigeria Medical Association was made.
Members were mandated to go back home and form functional state branches of the association and also reach out to adjoining states to do the same.
Those efforts brought in more states. Dr. Musa Gabriel and his team from Kogi, Dr. Amadi and his team from Rivers; Enugu, Anambra and Imo States. Bayelsa state also joined later.
At this juncture, it is important to mention and appreciate Dr. Akindele for his laudable efforts in membership drive to the northern part of the country. He made several trips there going from one state to the other encouraging our colleagues there to join. Zamfara state joined later.
We started holding meetings from one state to the other and making progress in our effort to get affiliation.
At a point, the Gen. Sec. – Dr. Babatunde resigned to go into politics. Dr. L.O. Odesanmi who was the Assistant General Secretary was elected to replace him in 2003.
It is important and appropriate to appreciate the tenure of Dr. L.O. Odesanmi. He was a most loyal and hard working General Secretary. During those trying and turbulent years of seeking affiliation, he was always there for us with the President. He did a wonderful job.
As earlier mentioned, the road to our affiliation was very rough and turbulent.
Despite lots of challenges especially from those who believed we should not exist, we were affiliated in May, 2006.
We would continue to remember and appreciate the support of the then N.M.A. President Prof. Atoyebi in getting our affiliation through.
Our affiliation raised the confidence of many our members especially in states that have not joined in the association. Many more states have since joined.
Our affiliation has taken us to the goal we set out to achieve i.e. having a voice among the body of doctors as a matter of right and not priviledge. Being part of the decision making process in N.M.A. like other affiliate bodies where our peculiar problems and needs would be addressed.
Also, our affiliation has further strengthened the democracy in N.M.A. It has improved cohesion among the doctors by helping to take decisions that are popular and all inclusive. It has improved the drive towards equity, justice and fair play, moving it forward towards having a big, strong and happy family.
After affiliation in May 2006, Dr. Adetoki M.A. was elected again as the first constitutionally elected National President and Dr, L.O. Odesanmi as the General Secretary among other members of the executive committee at the first AGM/ADM in Abeokuta on the 18th of October, 2007.
The Exco contine continued in office till 2010.
The following have served as Presidents/General Secretaries after.
Dr. Nwosu / Dr. Okwuonkenye Henry
Dr. Musa Gabriel / Dr. Ayinla Abubakar
Dr. Akindele N. / Dr. Ogunsheye J.B. / Dr. Oroge O.
Dr. Amadi / Dr. Ebimere Okpomu.
The association has been waxing stronger with more states joining.
We give glory to God for giving us the vision and seeing us through thick and thin weathering the storm to actualize the dream.
This historical account would not be complete if we do not mention names of some of our members who played active roles in seeing NAGGMDP through the turbulent years.
This list includes Ossai-Abaninwa, Ken Ebonwu, Ojo, Alade Komo (late), Adeagbo (late), Ewegbemi (late), Omowaiye, Ajewole, Mohammed, Azebi, Ganikale, Johnson, Enih (late), Uche N., Akpati, Ojekwu, Uyamadu, Umeogbolu, Oluka, Oludipe, etc.
NAGGMDP will forever be grateful to many of our colleagues that are not mentioned here who God has used to actualize this dream.
Some have passed on to glory. We remember them and pray for a peaceful rest in the bosom of the Lord.
We particularly appreciate our colleagues in Osun State who kept the fire burning during those early years. Many made tremendous personal and financial sacrifices to keep the fire burning despite all odds.
To God be all the glory.
Dr. Adetoki Moses A.