Nurses open portal to mobilise against certificate verification

Members of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives in Nigeria have opened a portal to kick against the new directive of the Nigeria Nursing and Midwives Council on certificate verification.

They want the council to withdraw the directive immediately.

The NMCN had on Tuesday released a circular on the guidelines for requesting verification of certificates for nurses and midwives in the country.

The circular was released after The PUNCH reported that the council deactivated the verification portal in December 2023.

By the new circular, nurses and midwives must have a minimum of two years post-qualification experience from the date of issuance of the permanent practicing licence.

The nurses, who spoke with our correspondent in separate interviews, alleged that the deactivation of the portal by the council was an attempt to hinder their freedom to pursue career opportunities abroad.

They also said it was not unconnected to the plan of the Federal Government to reduce the number of health workers emigrating out of the country to seek greener pastures abroad.

Nigeria has continued to experience a shortage of medical personnel in the country due to the mass exodus to other countries in search of better opportunities.

Last year, the NANNM said over 75,000 nurses and midwives left the country in five years to seek greener pastures.

The association blamed the situation on insecurity, poor working environment, and poor wages, among others.

The circular signed by the Registrar of the council, Faruk Abubakar, read in part, “A refundable fee per application shall be paid for verification to foreign boards of nursing as specified on the portal. This shall cover the cost of courier services to the applicant’s institution(s) of training, place of work, and foreign board.

“Eligible applicants must have a minimum of two years post qualification experience from the date of issuance of the permanent practicing licence. Any application with a provisional licence shall be rejected outright.

“The council shall request a letter of good standing from the chief executive officer of the applicant’s place(s) of work and the last nursing training institution attended and responses on these shall be addressed directly to the Registrar/CEO, NMCN. Please note that the council shall not accept such letter(s) through the applicant.”

The council also stated that applicants must have an active practicing licence with a minimum of six months to the expiration date, and processing of verification applications would take a minimum of six months.

It added that the implementation of the guidelines would take effect from March 1, 2024.

A nurse identified as Daughter of Zion Nwaikuku has sent an online petition to the registrar of the council on Change.Org to reinstate the portal immediately.

The petition read in part, “As a community of nurses and midwives in Nigeria, we have been struggling with unemployment for years. Despite our qualifications, dedication, and passion to serve, we are not recognised by the government. The only way to balance our lives is through verification, which allows us to seek international recruitment.

“Recently, without consultation or formal notification, the Registrar, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, removed the online verification portal. This action has further complicated our situation as it hinders us from seeking employment opportunities abroad.

“Nursing is an essential profession that should be treated with respect and dignity. However, many Nigerian nurses, who are fortunate enough to secure employment, battle with overwhelming workloads due to staff shortages and poor working conditions.

“Healthcare unemployment in Nigeria is further exacerbated by their lack of access to the online verification portal. We demand that the Registrar, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, reinstate this portal immediately. It’s not just about giving us job opportunities; it’s also about respecting our profession and acknowledging our contributions towards healthcare services both locally and internationally.”

As of the time of filing this report, 10,365 persons had signed the petition.

Another nurse, Reuben Zirahgi Markus, created a survey portal on the NMCN circular.

The nurse wants to know, among other things, if the directive in the circular is reasonable.

A flier sighted by our correspondent on social media indicated that nurses and midwives in Oyo State would embark on a protest at the council’s office in Ibadan, on Monday.

But the Speaker of the Oyo State Youth Parliament, who is also a nurse in the state, Israel Fawole, said the protest would not hold because the association needed to formally inform the police about it.

When asked if the association was considering strike action, Fawole said, “When injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes the great duty of the people; whether the NANNM takes action or not, nurses won’t work at their best.

“This is going to be a fight to the finish.”

State councils and chapters of the NANNM in Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Kaduna, Yenagoa, Ondo, Plateau, and others have petitioned the nursing council and the headquarters of their association to demand the withdrawal of the circular on certificate verification.

The President of the NANNM, Michael Nnachi, who condemned the council’s directive, appealed to the nurses and midwives to allow the leadership of the association to intervene in the matter.

He said, “Definitely, as a professional association, they (nurses and midwives) have to allow us to intervene.

“We will meet with them (the council) as soon as possible because this week is already gone. By the time we have our discussion, we will define the direction of actions.”

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