Unless urgent steps are taken, a major religious crisis may be brewing at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTH) as two top officials of the hospital allegedly humiliated some female nurses for wearing trousers and hijab while on duty.
The Renaissance gathered that the Director of Nursing Mr Victor Onini and the Chief Medical Director Prof. Victor Adebayo Adetiloye, at different times warned the nurses and threatened to sack them if they dear appear in trousers or hijab (Muslim female head covering) again.
The latest harassment occurred on Monday, Oct. 29 when the director of nursing reportedly queried some nurses for putting on trousers, which had always been a part of the nurses’ corporate dressing.
Onini allegedly pushed further by asking the nurses to remove the usual trousers, living them with only the jumpy gowns.
Keen watchers are seeing the development appears to be a calculated attempt to tactically ‘derobe’ the few Muslim nurses in the complex by the duo of the Director of Nursing and the CMD.
It was gathered that the nurses were later chased out of the ward by the CMD, Adetiloye, who warned the affected nurses to stop wearing the trousers or risk being relieved of their duties.
Efforts to reach the nurses concerned to know how they feel about the latest development proved abortive as they have subsequently declined to respond to calls and messages.
A reliable source alleged that the Muslim community has warned that members should not speak to the press on the matter as it was receiving the necessary attention.
However, another competent source in the Complex said the sudden ‘gang-up’ against the trousers and hijab was orchestrated and premeditated by major stakeholders, beyond the Director/HOD Nursing and the CMD.
According to reports, the whole drama started on penultimate Friday when the sectional head attached to the Gynaecology ward saw Nurse Nimot Olaleye and queried why she was putting on trousers.
She replied that it’s one of the options in the circular prescribed by the Nursing Council.
The sectoral head then asked her to go and remove it.
Olaleye reportedly ran to the mosque and told the Imam and a brother she met there to intimate them of her ordeal.
It was, however, learnt that the Imam asked her to comply by removing her trousers and return to her ward.
the Imam told her that he would discuss the matter with other members of the Muslim community to determine the next line of action.
In the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 5, the same Nurse Olaleye was called by the HOD (Director of Nursing) who told her to remove her trousers again.
Feeling embarrassed and confused, Olaleye again went straight to the mosque to inform the Muslim Community.
But the leadership similarly told her to comply and then get back to work while they engage the authorities to resolve the issue.
“After waiting for a while for the return of Olaleye, the HOD went straight to her ward (Gynae ward) where he met another Nurse Aminat Alimi, who also wore trousers.
“This probably made the HOD furious and went back to call the CMD, who collaborated with him to embarrass Nurse Alimi by ordering her to remove her trousers,” a source who witnessed the incident said.
A nurse who witnessed the humiliation but who preferred to speak under the condition of anonymity also narrated her ordeal to The Renaissance.
“Although, I am not a Muslim, what I witnessed was indeed a completely embarrassing situation.
“We were initially surprised when the Director of Nursing asked the Muslim nurses to remove their trousers, leaving them with jumpy gowns.
“You know because they wear trousers, the length of the gown may not necessarily be of major concern, unlike some of us who do not wear the combination of gown and trousers.
“But the most embarrassing aspect of it was when the CMD disgraced and walked the nurses out of the ward in the presence of the patients.
“As a nurse myself, I felt disgraced, demeaned and belittled; it is inhuman.
“How can senior colleagues in the hospital do that to a professional colleague?.
“Nurses are professionals and must be respected. More so, what the CMD, Prof Adetiloye did was illegal, unprofessional and wicked.
“After all, the dressing (gown and trousers) are approved by the Nursing Council,” she said.
Another nurse, who witnessed the occasion and pleaded anonymity because she was not authorised to speak to the press, said she could not comprehend why the senior colleagues who are supposed to be the custodians of the rules and regulations guiding the nursing profession turned out to be the very ones working against them.
“It is in our Code of Conduct that we can put on trousers and the nurse gown but we were surprised when we heard nurses were called by the HOD to see him in the office and when they got to his office, he ordered them to remove their trousers or else, they will be fired,” she said.
The nurse explained that the mode of dressing was backed by the policy of the Nursing Council of Nigeria, which states that nurses could wear either a nurse cap or a shoulder-length hijab with trousers.
She expressed surprise that the Director of Nursing insisted that, nurses are only permitted to wear a gown and a small hijab while trousers are outlawed.
Nursing & Midwifery Council circular
Interestingly, the stance of the two principal officers contravenes the provisions of a circular from the Nursing & Midwifery Council of Nigeria to the hospital authorities signed by the Secretary-General, P.N Ndatsu, sent to all the Directors of Nursing, their Deputies, the Chief Medical Directors, Chief Executives and Principal, dated Feb. 11, 2002 with reference number N&MCN/CMF/721/1/3.
Section 2, subsection b(III) of the circular further, prescribes that the nurses are permitted to wear trousers and a gown with long sleeves.
But when confronted with the circular, the HOD insisted that she would not join issues with the press to create mistrust in the system, this is misinformation.
“There is a uniform policy in OAUTHC, handed down by the uniform committee and Muslim community cannot micromanage the department of nursing for us.
“The uniform in use is a product of collective bargaining since 2014, period,” Onini said.
Meanwhile, in a frantic effort to resolve the crisis, the management of OAUTHC had conveyed a meeting with the Muslim community and the leadership of the Nursing Department and other stakeholders.
Report has it that, while both parties agreed to sheath their swords, the nurses are still denied their rights and this situation will remain until few days time when another meeting will be held with the necessary stakeholders at the instance of the Director.
The meeting is expected to finally resolve the issue.
Until then, the female nurses are to obey the HOD’s order.
When contacted, the Chairman, OAUTCH, Prof Fatihu Arogundade said the institution has agreed to settle the issue amicably as a family affair.
Arogundade assured that going by the progress made so far, there should be no cause for alarm.
However, there are feelers that top members of the Muslim Community aren’t ready to compromise their constitutionally guaranteed rights and are spoiling for a real showdown, should the authorities decide to mitigate their rights and privileges.
A member of the Muslim Community said, if the nursing dress code is guaranteed in the constitution, approved by the Nursing Council and has been in practice for three years, no one should attempt to violate such right or infringe on such freedom.
From Elder Yinka Salaam, Osogbo