Solidarity Greetings, Great NUNSITES.
I believe you are fine and staying safe especially in this pandemic period. I want to appreciate you all for the trust you have reposed in me as your National President. I equally appreciate your cooperation with your chapter Presidents and your supports for them all. I am sure you are aware that the present administration’s tenure should have ended and the handing over done at the LAUTECH 2020 Convention. However, the convention had to be suspended due to the ravaging COVID-19. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the rare understanding and support you have extended to this administration. I deem it vital to write to you on issues that bother on Unification which is one of the ideas our administration has been pursuing because of the important role we believe it has for our collective professional advancement.
I will love to sincerely apologize for the approach we initially adopted in pursuing unification process before I move on to why it is imperative we unite with our colleagues in the Colleges and Schools of Nursing. The consultation process leading up to having agreements and committees on unification was admittedly not robust enough especially at the chapter level. The feeling of alienation must justifiably have led many to the conclusion that we had ulterior motives or personal interest we wish to accomplish through the unification process. As a leader, it is my responsibility and the collective responsibilities of all our National officers and Chapter leaders to primarily protect the interest of our constituency. I can assure you that however imperfect our methods have been, we have all acted and are still acting in the overall interest of NUNSITES and the progress of our noble profession. I urge you to be reassured that we will always fight and defend your interest and that of our profession.
Origin of Unification
The idea of unification was not initiated by our administration. It started far back in 2015. I had been called by a number of leaders within the professional circular about the need for us to consider the unification again since I assumed office. The first official discussion about the issue (in our administration) however happened during the National Executive Council Meeting we had in Osogbo in April 2019. Discussions with the leadership of National Association of Nigeria Students Nurses and Midwives (NANSNM) started which culminated in the much deeper considerations for modalities of achieving the unification during the National convention of NANSNM in Ebonyi State in which myself, the NUNSA President, our Vice president, Senate president, director of welfare and PRO2 were present. The leaders from the Professional association, past leaders of Nursing and Midwifery Council, and past leaders of NUNSA present at the Ebonyi convention equally emphasized the need for both bodies to revisit unification in the interest of professional growth and development. The above premises midwife the revisiting of the unification process as an association.
WHY DO WE NEED UNIFICATION AND WHAT IS IN IT FOR US AS NUNSITES?
1) The fate of University-trained Nurses within the Nursing practice and administration has always been bleak as it was never designed to reward the robust educational preparation and skill set, they possess. The employers of Nurses have continued to rob the profession and many times, and several cases, the employer does not compensate for the full skill set of University training while S/he insists paying for only a Registered Nurse certificate alone. This is only one of the many ways employers of Nurses have continued to exploit the deep division within the Nursing profession. Instead of our colleagues speaking to the superiority of University training, many of them degrade and devalue it. That has been the practice of the older generation of Nurses which evidently has not benefited either faction. Other sister healthcare professions have made significant progress in the level of entry into service and condition of service while “(some)” of our own leaders continue to invent new ways of balkanizing the profession into smaller divisive groups that employers of nurses would use against us in future.
2) Distinguished colleagues, as students, it is important for us to learn from the past mistakes of those who have gone ahead of us, many of whom sowed the seed of division that has crippled the profession. It would be foolish of us to tow the same path expecting a different result. It is in our self-interest to join hands with our colleagues in the school of Nursing with whom we still have common grounds vis-à-vis RN and other licenses. Their clamor for affiliations to university departments should be our fight. It is a battle we must win together against self-interested Nurses who want to perpetuate this institution that has become a career trap for our colleagues in the School of Nursing leaving them without any educational qualification that fits into the country’s 6-3-3-4 educational policy. Many of them have serious difficulty pursuing vertical academic progression within the profession because of this. We must understand that we have a common destiny in Nursing irrespective of our different qualifications and that judging the eyes of the public cannot tell us apart. Let me remind you that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. While we have Professors in nursing today, we are judged by our lowest common denominator within the profession which is the School of Nursing three-year RN program. In all this, the person who has invested the most stands to lose the most. We are investing the most by putting in over 5 years in training with only tacit recognition in the scheme of service through the internship program that we have only just won since the BNSc program started over forty years ago. Our entry-level position is still behind that of our contemporary. In this game of division, we are going to be the biggest losers.
3) In our negotiations with NANSNM, they have already made historic concessions by agreeing that the association that would be born out of this unification would be led by a University student believing that we must always present our most advanced qualification in representing our collective interest. It is a huge sacrifice on their part which we should honor and regard. It reflects a new understanding and thinking which when the unification scales through would imprint in all Nursing students the superiority of higher qualification. A Nurse with a master’s degree with clinical competence should have an enhanced point of entry ditto a nurse with a doctorate degree. Moreover, the students in the School of Nursing would have another chance at such a position when they come for their degree program.
4) Let me equally address the concern some might have about a disruption to the rotational leadership style in NUNSA. If the unification is approved, the President would still be produced by the Northern region as is expected.
5) Greatest NUNSITES, to speak with one voice is to speak with great force and power. The fickle regard extended to us by both NMCN and NANNM and our constitutional right to attend meetings such as the National Executive Council meetings where Nursing issues are decided would be ours and enforceable. We would be able to exert our influence on what is decided and get information as they unfold rather than be at the receiving end of draconian policies that are injurious to our future. Also, the kind of support we should enjoy from them for our programs would be guaranteed.
6) Let us not also forget that this merger would equally make us one of the largest student professional associations in the country with geographical spread all across the country. The power and influence we would wield to better ourselves with that kind of association are left to our imaginations. The potential for collaborations and partnerships at home and abroad is enormous. And we can change the public image and rewrite the narrative about our profession with the new giant association and the vast resources that would be at its disposal.
7) We have lost so many opportunities as nursing students simply because we have two bodies. It is time for us to cut our losses and strive for collective progress. It is time for the School of Nursing students to make the challenges of University nursing students theirs and vice versa in solidarity.
This is our new vision. And until this vision of a few becomes the vision of many nothing substantial and worthwhile can be achieved. It is, for this reason, I present this vision for the consideration of the generality of NUNSITES.
8) It is important for me to state that NANSNM has already committed itself wholly to this process by suspending the conduct of its national elections at the convention at Ebonyi and has remained without an elected leadership for over 10months. They have been patient with us beyond reason and have demonstrated an uncommon show of understanding. History and posterity would not cast our actions in good light if we fail to hold our own end of the bargain or frustrate this process. I appeal to us all my colleagues to reciprocate their sacrifice and concessions by embracing this idea and making it our own. This unification is not new to the world. It was done in Canada in the year 1992. Let this year of the Nurse and Midwife be our own year. Together as one indivisible body, we can all work for a stronger, bigger, more respected, and recognized association of nursing students.
9) I will be grateful if you give us positive feedback on the proposal for unification within the next seven days
10) I wish you a wonderful preparation for our upcoming NATIONAL CONVENTION.