Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital: Final Burial Or Another Chance To Live?
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The 60s was a turning point for Nigeria. The young nation took off with developmental strides, giant enough to make her colonial masters green with envy! With her pace, it won’t take long before overtaking her colonial nation, but a strategy was put in place to slow her down; a time marking strategy. However, that’s a story for another day!
Following the year of our Independence, 1961 to be precise, the University of Ife was founded and 6 years later in 1967 came its tertiary hospital named after the University. Both are now Obafemi Awolowo University and Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife respectively.
The leadership of the western region was deliberate in their thoughts and focused on action. Modelling Israel in construction of farming communities incorporating schools and health facilities—a pattern that was showing tremendous progress at building back the ruin of the land Israel returned to in just over a decade—the pattern fast paced western Nigeria’s development over others.
Ile-Ife, the cradle of the Yoruba nation, was dignified by this developmental pace with the establishment of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital. Beyond the services they were rendering in Education, learning and Medicare were the beautiful and aesthetic environment of well mowed lawns, kempt gardens and trees that aided the beauty of the Institution.
Nigeria unfortunately has happened to both institutions in the services they are established to provide and the beautiful sight they once offered!
Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Ile-Ife is worse hit. The lawns and gardens now look like backyard farms whose owner is dead!
Some of the building facilities are showing signs of cracked walls. In some, sick patients are lying helplessly, staring at roofs half way down that may fall any moment.
It is not impossible to come with a physiological problem and leave with psychological ailments!
Being a “Psycho” has become a common affliction in the country today; there are more than enough reasons to be mad, may the good Lord save us from them all!
Our political class are not spared from the general madness, it’s a common accusation, among them. A former Governor of Lagos accused his successor during party primary campaign build up to have been through rehabilitation. Some members of the public even went to the extreme, alleging that the incumbent had to marry his caregiver for the purpose of maintaining stability of mind!
This brings to mind the alleged claim by madam Governor who is a medical doctor herself following the death of Doctor Vwaere Diaso, the doctor who was killed in an elevator accident at General Hospital, Lagos Island: trapped in the elevator before falling from the 10th floor of the hospital building leading to the death of Diaso, a medical doctor undertaking horsemanship at the healthcare facility. She was reported to have been rescued alive but lack of access to oxygen at that critical moment when it was needed deprived her the opportunity to live. Mrs Sanwo-Olu however had a different opinion; the Doctor’s death, whatever her reason, was a spiritual attack on the “health family”. That position calls for reasons to be worried, the Governor and his wife are members of a ministry that should be educationally sound but embarrassingly enmeshed in the “enemy theology”! Having a Scientist and a Professor for a pastor but are made to see household enemies as reason for everything including government and institution failure. The first Lady may have to explain to us at what point it became the family attack, is it the enemies that failed to maintain the elevator or the ones that failed to stock oxygen gas?
There is a job to be done at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Ile-Ife, to save the lives of Doctors and their patients. It must urgently be rescued from the old minds who irresponsibly find excuses in failure. Mindsets who wouldn’t take responsibility must be edged out. OAUTH should be in the hands of leadership that represents the future. This will be the beat of the would be Chief Medical Director (CMD)!
I sought the opinion of one of the heads of departments of the institution on the imperatives for credible leadership of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Ile-Ife vis a vis the appointment of the Chief Medical Director. He opined; “The Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital ile-Ife is a second generation federal teaching hospital in south west Nigeria with primary mission of providing clinical services, training and research activities in its area of operations majorly in the five south west states and parts of north central and South South. Its major achievements over the decades include globally acclaimed cancer services and open heart surgeries. Recently it has been in the news for some negative reasons bothering on the appointment to the vacant position of a substantive Chief Medical Director (CMD) for the institution. He further stated; according to credible sources within the institution, the last one and a half year have been characterized by unwholesome practices bothering on over employments, non-payment of salaries , unwholesome fetish practices, illegal diversion of funds and gross indiscipline making the institution a shadow of itself. It is hoped that after two botched interview attempts, the latest interview conducted at the Abuja office of the Federal ministry of health would offer a ray of hope for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to select the best among the array of contenders based on performance at the interview, integrity, merit and maturity. He quoted an NGO based in Abuja, called the ‘Agenda for Positive Credibility (APC) which said: “The president must refuse to bow to pressure from politicians in making a good and credible choice as excellence should not be sacrificed for mediocrity”.
He continued that “there should clearly be a clean break from the past as anything otherwise might set the institution back by several decades”.
Three (3) persons have been lined up for the job, having gone through the interview, they are all qualified with relevant certificates, but the job at hand requires not just qualifications but character! Interestingly, I have never met any of them. Concerned about whether the next leadership of the hospital will finally lay it to rest or give it another chance to live, I reached out to sample another opinion, this time an Alumni of the institution. Given the nature of our society he also preferred to be anonymous. He is a friend in the Diaspora that I met on a summer tour recently. He was literally in tears for what has become of the institution that trained and gave him the career footing for which he is holding the ground among his equals in the USA. Speaking on behalf of his colleagues in the Diaspora, all they wish to see is an institution taken back to its era of glory. The question on every lip is who will reverse the rot and make the place to thrive and succeed again?
He said to me “I’m here in Israel. Part of my self-sponsored assignment is to help facilitate training in some important specialties at the OAU/OAUTH, but how far our involvement will be at helping the institution will be determined by the leadership. Our government should be concerned about putting in place leadership that has the goodwill of staff of the institution and its Alumni”.
The unknown trio shortlisted for the top job in the institution that I read about in the media are known to my friend. who had at one time or the other shared school or class with the candidates, so I asked for his opinion on them:
“I have great respect for all of them”, he says while stressing that “it is the responsibility of the appointing office or institution to serve the interest of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital and the Public”. I further asked, if you are asked to pick one out of the trio who would that be; “Meritocracy will be my tool, which I am not armed with, having been away from the system for many years.
I last visited OAUTH in November 2019.
Was in Lagos September 2022, but didn’t get to Ile-Ife.
I get feelers from Ife regularly through multiple sources there. However, due to the do-or-die nature of politics in Nigeria and for the sake of my family here, I will remain anonymous, but not without making my point. Facts need not be personal to make their impact.”
He continued, “the last time I visited I was confronted with a ward not fitting for veterinary admission. I saw a hanging roof almost dropping off on the patient on bed!
Those of you at home in Nigeria should help influence the appointment of the best man for the job to save our pride; mine and of all the candidates.”
I pressed him further for words on each candidate he bucked, what can you say about Prof John Okeniyi! “‘Ori e pe gan ni’, meaning, he is extremely intelligent. He is a Prof of Paediatrics (Cardiology) and Child Health, OAU/OAUTH”.
Apparently unknown to him, his endorsed candidate is the most preferred by public opinion for the job.
“Okeniyi was a year my junior in Med School. I have no reason to doubt his ability to deliver on the job,” he asserted.
I went on to ask about, Prof Foluso Owotade, “he is a product of the institution. I can only hope that he feels the way I do about our plight as Alumni. He is a
Prof of Maxillofacial Surgery, OAU/ OAUTH, Ile-Ife, Osun state. He is a couple of years my senior in Med School. I know him well, but Okeniyi though junior to him in years of experience is a better leadership material.”
“How about Dr. Muyiwa Owojuyigbe?”, I inquired.
“He is a Consultant Anesthetist, OAU/OAUTH, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He is the easiest to decide on of the trio he has been CMD in acting capacity before. Did he run up the place or ran it down? The answer to that question should come from those in the system please,” he retorted.
A call to the Senator representing Osun East, Sen. Francis Adenigba Fadahunsi to ask for is choice among the trio, was a boisterous engagement as always, “Bolaji Akinyemi, one thing we must never play politics with, is life! Politicians, that of course includes me, must give this appointment to the best man for the job. That is my Senatorial District Hospital. That is where I receive medical attention whenever one is needed. You know I don’t believe in medical tourism, those who do should please be merciful on those of us who are Nigerian in health and wealth”!
Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital deserves not just an Officer in the office of Chief Medical Director to teach and consult, but a man of character who will roll up his sleeves for the work to be done and pick up the shovel where and when necessary to restore its garden!
What is at stake is the glory of the great OAU and that of our nation Nigeria!