(Autobiography by Professor Opeoluwa Oladeinde Adekunle, OON)
By Bashorun J.K. Randle
Professor Opeoluwa Adekunle may have set out to reassure us that his intention is “First, to do no harm” (Latin: Primun non nocere) which is directly lifted from the Hippocratic Oath. Doctors swear by it. it is traditionally attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates (no connection with hypocrisy!!) who lived from 460 to 370 BC. The opening sentence is as follows:
“I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.”
The last line is a very powerful invocation:
“Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I break it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.”
Rather than fall into the temptation to recite the sacred oath in its Greek or Latin version, I shall confine myself to the core:
“I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly, I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.
Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.”
That we are gathered here in such large numbers to honour Professor Adekunle on his epochal 80th birthday and also launch his autobiography: “My Service To Humanity” is not only an eloquent testimony to his scholarship, erudition and other sterling qualities but most profoundly a robust auditors’ report:
“He has never broken the Hippocratic Oath.”
It is Professor Adekunle’s good fortune that he subscribes to David McCullough’s dictum:
“Real success is finding your lifework in the work you love.”
What emerges from the book and its riveting catalogue of firsts in terms of superlative achievements and laurels is that Professor Adekunle has been engrossed for most of his life in an epic battle with “first” – is it God comes first; family comes first; or medicine (his beloved profession) comes first?
He has provided the answer – the book is dedicated to his wife Dr. (Mrs.) Folasade Adekunle (nee Bajo) his children and grandchildren. The great grandchildren will have to wait for their turn when the sequel would be launched at Professor Adekunle’s 90th birthday on Tuesday, November 20, 2029.
Be that as it may, the author is unrelenting in giving gratitude to God the Almighty for his divine intervention at critical moments, bordering on the miraculous.
Please permit me to quote Professor Adelola Adeloye:
“When in 2003 in South Africa, Ope had a gruesome auto-accident, he broke almost every major bone in his body, except the skull, luckily leaving him with an intact pristine brain which allows him to write this autobiography.”
In the words of the author himself, we have an impeccable witness to the steadfastness of the Almighty:
“On reflection, I believe that many things that happened in my professional life, came by the will of God.”
However, the devil was not easily persuaded to grant him a free pass or waiver:
“….as a newly qualified Specialist at Edinburgh University (the same university that awarded my grandfather, Dr. J.K. Randle the Gold Medal in Surgery in 1888), I remember committing one error. The anatomy of the area I was operating became confusing and I cut a blood vessel by mistake.
I went back to check the patient, a white woman. I felt so bad that I said to myself that I wasn’t going home that day as I was gripped with fear that my professional license might be cancelled.”
However, divine intervention was the prescription delivered by the Almighty:
“But when I went to the patient afterwards, strangely she thanked me profusely. In another climate, she would have descended on me with threats of suing me for negligence or make an official report of the incident. In spite of my mistake, she didn’t nurse any ill feelings against me. Rather, she encouraged me in my career.”
In his vigorous endeavour to demonstrate that in his entire professional life and beyond, he has never compromised regarding the Hippocratic Oath to which he solemnly swore, he has made full disclosure of his entire life – from birth to his forthcoming birthday on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.
He is the only one who can competently comment on the aspect of the Oath that refers to abortion. In America, the controversy over Roe versus Wade rages still between those who are in favour of pro-life and those who insist that abortion should be a matter of free choice.
However, he has unwittingly opened the Pandora’s box which directly challenges the other professions to wit:
i.) The Chartered Accountant who swears that the audited accounts reflect a true and fair view.
ii.) The lawyer who swears that he is committed to truth and justice (ably assisted by a hefty cheque book!!).
iii.) The optician who declares that you can see clearly now (but his bill must be paid first!!)
iv.) The Economist who qualifies his opinion with the caveat: all things being equal (even in an economy that is in shambles).
v.) The Judge who delivers judgement based on “technicality” instead of law.
Sample 1: From the front-page report of “The Nation” newspaper of September 3, 2019
Headline: N840M FOUND IN RETIRED JUDGE’S ACCOUNT, SAYS ICPC
- ‘She opened account in housemaid’s name’
“The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has filed an application before a Federal High Court in Abuja for the interim forfeiture of N840 million in a retired female judge’s account.
The judge under probe is a retired President of the Benue State Customary Court of Appeal, Mrs. Margaret Igbeta.
She has been accused of opening an account in the name of her housemaid, Theodora Atsu on the 5th of March, 2008, with an initial deposit of N8 million.
The account had accumulated N870,321,492.15 between 2008 and 2019.
But by the time ICPC investigators stepped in, about N840 million was left in the account.
A statement by the Spokesperson for the anti-graft commission, Mrs. Rasheedat A. Okoduwa, (mni) said: “The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has requested a Federal High Court, Abuja, to order the interim forfeiture of N840 million traced to a retired President of the Benue State Customary Court of Appeal, Mrs. Margaret Igbeta.
“The Commission, in an ex-parte motion filed at the court, said that the order would stop Mrs. Igbeta from accessing the money alleged to have been obtained through fraudulent activities in the course of her official duties.
“ICPC noted that the request for the interim forfeiture is pursuant to Section 48 (1), (2) and (3) (a) and (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and Section 6 (6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
“The retired President of the Customary Court of Appeal was accused of operating a proxy fixed deposit account in the name of her maid, one Theodora Atsu, with Ecobank Plc, where she accumulated N870, 321, 492.15 between 2008 and 2019.
She was said to have opened the account with her passport and the name of Atsu on the 5th of March, 2008, with an initial deposit of N8 million.
She subsequently made several other huge deposits including N123, 745, 925.57 and N5 million, in the months of March and May, 2008.
It was also noted by the Commission that the money was far above her legitimate earnings both as a judge and President of the Customary Court of Appeal within the period that the account was operated and would have been used to meet the infrastructural needs of the citizens and development of the nation.
ICPC therefore prayed the court to grant the order in the interest of the nation.”
Sample 2: From the front page “Vanguard” newspaper of September 13, 2019
Headline: “AKWA IBOM NASS – JUDGE ABANDONS TRIBUNAL AFTER AKPABIO, EKPENYONG’S JUDGEMENT”
“The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Uyo led by Justice W. O Akanbi was thrown into confusion on Thursday, September 11, 2019, as one of the judges of the three-man panel, Justice Hafizu Tahir abandoned sitting on the Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara Federal Constituency seat.
Accordingly, only two members of the panel gave judgment in the case filed by Emmanuel Akpan of the All Progressives Congress, APC challenging the election of Nsikak Ekong of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP held Thursday night.
The Tribunal struck out the petition filed by Akpan against Ekong. Justice Tahir is the judge who on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, gave minority judgment in favour of Senator Godswill Akpabio’s petition, as the winner of the Akwa Ibom NorthWest Senatorial seat in the February 23, 2019, senatorial election.
The speculation in the state capital on Friday following his absence at the Tribunal is that he (Tahir) walked out of the tribunal in protest after giving the minority judgment in the case between Ekpenyong and Akpabio.
Sources in the state even alleged that he’s abandoning the tribunal may not be unconnected with his (Tahir) failure to convince other two judges of the panel to sway judgment in favour of Akpabio.
However at the resumed sitting of the Tribunal by 11.30pm on Thursday, the majority judgment read by the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice W. O. Akanbi, agreed that INEC was justified in cancellation of results in wards where there were widespread thuggery and election violence and thus held that by the majority of valid votes cast at units where there was peaceful conduct of elections, Nsikak Ekong who stood election on the platform of the PDP won the elections as declared by INEC.
On the issue of cancelled votes which was contended by the petitioners, the court referred to the guidelines of the 3rd Respondent (INEC) which provided that any unit or Ward where elections, were marred by thuggery and violence, would result in outright cancellation.
It held that the tribunal was confronted with testimonies by ward and unit officers who testified and presented pieces of evidence that showed no accreditation and elections in the affected places.
Relying on testimonies by subpoenaed INEC officials and other witnesses, the Tribunal condemned the inhuman treatment on officials and voters by the APC in the election.
The Tribunal also maintained that the INEC official Dr. Williams Olosunde (RW14) was right in playing along with the armed thugs to save the lives of the officials, maintaining that it would have been impossible to resist the threats at gunpoint, which is why the returning officer said he managed to escape without announcing any result.
RW 14 told us the circumstances he cancelled the result, and given the circumstances, it would be wrong to say that Dr. Olusunde acted arbitrarily.
Dr. Olosunde also told us that he saw the frightened look on the faces of the polling and ward officers that came with the thugs to the collation centre”, and this justified his decision to play along with the perpetrators.
He relied on the testimony of Olusunde that he never announced the winner of the election and gave no agents a copy of the result until actual verification was later done in line with INEC guidelines at the INEC office in Uyo on Monday, adding that the returning officer and electoral officer had the right to report the anomalies to the commission.
On whether or not the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the electoral act 2011 as amended.
We cannot but believe the testimony of the Respondents witnesses R1 – R11, who spoke based on what they saw, while the petitioner’s witnesses mainly Wards and local government agents merely spoke on what they were told.
The petitioners have failed to prove their petition and the petition is hereby struck out.”, the Tribunal stated. The tribunal also dismissed the joining of the 4th-5th Respondents in the suit by the petitioner. However, the judgment on the federal constituency seat sealed the National Assembly election petitions sitting in the state.”
vi.) Even bankers are not left out going by the lamentation delivered on the front page of “Daily Sun” newspaper of September 16, 2019.
Headline: “AMCON RAISES ALARM OVER RISING NPLs IN BANKS”
“The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) at the weekend raised the alarm over the frightening rise in cases of non-performing loans in the banking sector, especially among the deposit money banks.
The Managing Director of AMCON, Mr Ahmed Kuru, expressed the worry in Abuja at the investiture of governing council/induction of members of the Chartered Institute of Loans and Risk Management of Nigeria.
According to him, the total debt owed the Corporation stands at about N4.5 trillion, even as he said concerted efforts were on to recover the debt.
Describing the debt as staggering, Kuru maintained that there was no way it would write off N4.5 trillion debt as it would be economically injurious to do so.
He added that the debt represents about half of Nigeria’s annual budget, pointing out that the figure was higher than the annual budget of countries like Rwanda and Kenya.”
By the same token, we have to reflect on the prospects in our toxic environment for a chartered accountant who insists on integrity and uprightness in the discharge of his professional duties. The same applies to the geologist who tells the government firmly that there is no oil to be found in the area to which it has committed billions of dollars. In the same category is the Petroleum Engineer who having inspected the refineries declares them obsolete, moribund and fit only for the scrapyard.
What fate other than ridicule and disdain awaits the politician who wants to truly serve rather than loot the treasury?
As for pastors and imams who promise heaven on earth as their message of deliverance and prosperity on the condition that you have to die first (before you can reach heaven), we should leave them to the judgment of the Almighty.
On CNN’s BREAKING NEWS we have the following report:
“Reverend Asateru of Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church, Ifisin-Ekiti, Ekiti State Nigeria has been convicted for defiling a seven-year-old girl. He is to serve five years in jail.”
Professor Adekunle while advertising his excellent record of performance in the medical profession has inadvertently beamed the searchlight on other professionals who are now compelled to admit their own shortcomings.
As for the lawyers, it was William Shakespeare who demolished them in Henry VI.
“First let us kill all the lawyers.”
However, they appear to have resurrected in sufficient numbers to propagate “Res ipso facto” (by the fact itself/ the facts speak for themselves). However, Thomas Sowell, the widely celebrated author of “Wealth, Poverty and Politics” has debunked it by insisting on the lack of neutrality of facts in virtually every area of human endeavour but most especially in politics:
“Facts do not speak for themselves. They speak for or against competing beliefs or competing theories.”
Far more alarming is the front-page report of “Daily Sun” newspaper of September 5, 2019 which is a serious indictment of virtually all our professionals – engineers, chartered accountants, lawyers, surveyors etc. Doctors are not exculpated from the charge sheet of the usual suspects listed under the shocking headline:
“AJAOKUTA: HOW MISMANAGMENT, STEALING CRIPPLED $4.6 BILLION STEEL INDUSTRY”
“Ajaokuta Steel Complex Limited [ASCL] in Kogi State is 40 years old. But rather than roll out the drums and pop champagne to celebrate the company’s ruby jubilee, Nigerians are weeping as the complex lies prostrate atop a 24,000-hectare sprawling greenfield.
Described as the biggest white elephant project in Nigeria, the enterprise has not produced a single sheet of steel since inception; no thanks to institutionalised corruption that has continually blighted government establishments in Nigeria.
ASCL was founded in 1979 to help address Nigeria’s infrastructure nightmare and provide 10,000 direct jobs as well as 500,000 indirect employment opportunities in the first of three phases. It was also envisaged to have a multiplier effect on agriculture, transportation, mining, maritime and other sectors.”
As for our highly respected author and accomplished medical guru, Professor Adekunle he has devoted his life to God, education and health – but the family comes first. All the same, as he celebrates his 80th birthday, it is self-evident that death and ageing do not pose an insurmountable financial, mental, physical, spiritual or psychological challenge.
His longevity is assured by the loving care he has bestowed on his family which has been reciprocated in equal measure by his grateful wife, children and grandchildren to whom he remains a beacon of hope and contentment as the prescription for longevity.
Whatever criticisms Professor Adekunle’s detractors are eager to deliver will have to await another occasion and venue – his 100th birthday on Sunday, November 20, 2039.
Aristotle the Greek philosopher has already pre-empted them:
“There is only one way to avoid criticism – do nothing; say nothing; and be nothing.”
The celebrant and author is in a class of his own.
His distinguished academic career has already marked him out as a convert and admirer of George Bernard Shaw’s vignette:
“Beware of false knowledge. It is more dangerous than ignorance.”
Since we have by acclamation adopted Professor Adekunle as the bellwether and lightening rod by which other professionals would be assessed on the scale of excellence in terms of scholarship; uprightness; dedication to duty; reputation; integrity; trustworthiness and above all, enduring family values as well as children of whom we should be proud, there has been a spirited backlash from those who insist that our celebrant has been exceptionally fortunate not to have been consumed by the viciousness and ruthlessness of political leaders who would rather recognise and patronise foreign professionals especially foreign consultants who have no stake in the country.
This is the case even when the so-called foreign consultants cannot hold a match to our own home-grown professionals in medicine, engineering, architecture, etc. As for lawyers, they have ensured that foreigners cannot practice in Nigeria. Even more inexplicable is the penchant for “Big Four” chartered accountancy firms.
The same government that would pay peanuts to local professionals (or default entirely, using one pretext or the other) would expeditiously pay huge sums to foreign firms regardless of the quality of their performance. They appear to have no genuine interest whatever in grooming local talent for capacity building.
Even more incomprehensible and insidious are the alacrity and wickedness with which those in positions of power remove and replace any professional who insists on (or aspires to) adhering to the ethics of his (or her) profession in accordance with international standards, decorum and professionalism. It can rapidly deteriorate into outright contempt and brazen case of the Emperor can do no wrong. It is almost as if they consider professionals as a threat to their overbearing and arrogant disposition. Of course, they take immense pleasure in the knowledge that the replacement would grovel and dance to their tune regardless of the additional work to be done for only a fraction of the legitimate reward for their sweat and toil. The first victim is independent professional opinion that would withstand international scrutiny. Pithy. Our nation is the worse for it.
The major consequences of these atrocities are manifested in the ticking bomb which was encapsulated by the eminent scholar, Professor Adelola Adeloye:
“Ope, like the allegorical Daniel, makes his judgement known that with year 2020 (next year), very nigh from now, “the road to Nigeria becoming one of the best 20 global economies is hazy and blurred.”
This is a most timely wake-up call. The frustration, anguish and rage over our shattered dream as a nation are already brewing. The victims are not willing to wait until 2020 before drawing the curtain to administer revenge. What is being transmitted on social media is poisonous, lethal and frightening. The messages and threats are not confined to politicians. Those seeking revenge insist that the professionals are part of the conspiracy and are therefore culpable.
The threats being bandied around on social media range from those who want to apply the Jerry Rawlings (former military ruler of Ghana) punishment to former political leaders who according to them are responsible for our nation’s woes. This is clearly irrational especially when they insist on including professionals in the dragnet – regardless of whether they are guilty or innocent, before a properly constituted court of law in accordance with due process.
Their rage is boiling over – even to the extent of turning it into a class war on the basis that whoever appears to be prosperous or affluent is automatically qualified for the guillotine!! No Mercy.
Apart from bloodthirsty insurgents, we also have to contend with armed robbers, kidnappers, rapists and “419” fraudsters.
Some of the more extreme measures which are being canvassed are reminiscent of what the Pol Pot regime unleashed on Cambodia between 1976 and 1979.
The casualty figures which were as follows were staggering;
It is estimated that 1.671 million to 1.871 million of 7.8 million Cambodians died as a result of the Khmer Rouge policy in Cambodia, or roughly between 21% and 24% of Cambodia’s 1975 population.”Professionals – doctors, engineers, accountants, architects etc. were forcibly conscripted from their comfort zone in cities to farm in the countryside and perish.
May the good Lord forbid such calamity in our beloved nation.
As confirmation that we are dealing with reality not fiction, we have the following front-page report from “Sunday Sun” newspaper of September 8, 2019
Headline: “KEG OF GUNPOWDER”
By – Henry Okonkwo & James Ojo Adakole
“Nigerians all over the world are angry. Nigeria is not just sitting on a ticking time bomb of youth violence; the Arab spring is over rated compared to what I see coming to Nigeria.
Nigerians are watching. I maintain that I don’t know who will make it happen or how it will happen, but I see a dark red, pregnant cloud hurrying with wild wind to be delivered of. I see the poor masses, the police, the army, the clergy, kidnappers, yahoo-yahoo, businessmen and women, the activists, lawyers, Doctors, the students, the Teachers/Lecturers, Boko-Haram, the Fulani-herdsmen and others forming a united front against our common enemy – the government.”
Even more excruciating is the bewilderment of foreigners who have come across the likes of Professor Adekunle and are amazed that our nation has virtually made it impossible for men and women who are endowed with pedigree and character to ascend to political leadership position in the service of our nation. As eminently distinguished as Professor Ope Adekunle is, he never made it to being appointed as the Surgeon-General of the Federation of Nigeria.
The book compels us to revert to introspection and self-examination (perhaps against the counsel of the eminent doctor and author). We may be forced to conclude that even though Professor Adekunle has paid his dues, our nation has not rewarded him with his due. We have short-changed him and short-changed ourselves. In him, we have a candidate for the highest office in our land but we by-passed him. Alas, like the current Prime Minister of Bhutan, Dr. Lotay Tshering who is a surgeon and combines active practice of medicine/surgery with ruling his country, the author would have ruled with surgical precision.
His dalliance with the Nigerian military either by chance or other designs in India, United Kingdom, United States of America, South Africa and here in Nigeria may not have served him well. However, he was not too severely damaged or tainted. It is still within the boundary of damage control. For now , it is sufficient to record that his venture into the military zone with the rank of field Lieutenant Colonel during the Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970) almost proved fatal.
According to him:
“The military government therefore requested civilian doctors to volunteer to serve in the army. I became impressed with the senior military officers, their discipline, sense of commitment and comradeship.
I was on my way to Benin City to collect medical supplies in my duty vehicle, an ambulance. At a place called Umunede, all of a sudden, we heard a loud bang and our ambulance stumbled into a ditch! I had injuries on my arms and face! I was bleeding profusely!!”
However, the Almighty and an angel were on call.
“Fortunately, when we got to UCH Ibadan, my wife was the Casualty Officer on duty that day. Although pregnant with our first child (Olufemi), she calmly and professionally received me and called on her other colleagues to assist. They operated on me and I was well.”
What has made the author exceptional is that he has very boldly broken ranks with Napoleon Hill who preached fervently:
“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”
Professor Adekunle had devoted eighty years on this earth to doing both.
Perhaps his only error was his choice of country in which to operate going by the warning of the late President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe:
“One day the trumpet will sound, the whole world will go for judgement. Only Nigeria will not hear because of generator sound.”
According to Senator Alex Kadiri, Nigerian politicians are deaf and blind. Does that entitle them to the services of our eminent and distinguished doctor/author?
Indeed, Zimbabwe would have been a bad choice on account of late President Robert Mugabe whose Obituary according to “The Guardian” of London reads as follows:-
Headline: “ROBERT MUGABE WAS ONCE A HERO OF THE LEFT. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HIS DESCENT INTO TYRANNY?”
- Without robust checks and balances, even the most promising leader can too easily become a despot
“If democracies have learned anything, it is that one man or woman in control of a country for decades never works. Having come to power by fighting against the previous regime, with spells in prison or exile, charismatic leaders can only sustain their power as that charisma fades by progressively tightening control. Challengers, typically embodying some combination of fresh ideas, new social forces and a desire to end abuse, are held down by ever fouler means.
Even if the state purports to be a democracy, elections are rigged, the media muzzled and opposition politicians harried or even killed. Inevitably, the economy suffers: there is a lack of investment, growing shortages, government rationing and rampant inflation. As the despot gets older, there is a fight for the succession, but without rules, process or accountability, so that it becomes a raw and destructive battle between factions. The need for orderly succession is an overlooked and powerful argument for democracy, as those conniving in the strutting power of presidents Putin and Xi will one day discover.
Authoritarianism – from Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who died last week, to the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos – always goes wrong. The list of failures is long, including China’s Mao Zedong, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. George Orwell’s prescient warnings in Animal Farm are confirmed again and again. The intriguing question is why so many both inside and outside a country suspend their thinking capacity and collude in the despot’s narrative.
Mugabe is now seen as a pernicious disaster. It’s not just the rule of law that has been wrecked, but the economy. His one saving grace is that he helped convince Nelson Mandela that a successful South Africa would be based on respect for its democratic institutions – a fixed-term presidency, regular, independently scrutinised elections, independent courts, regard for law and an independent press.
Mugabe’s career, and the damage he inflicted on Zimbabwe, is too frequently dismissed as the result of a particular leader acting on a particular ex-British colony. Rather, it is a lesson for us all.”
An equally awful choice would have been Zambia where according to Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, it was a similar gory tale:
“From October 24, 1964, when Zambia gained independence from Britain, she was ruled by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and his party, United National Independence Party (UNIP). Mr. Frederick Chiluba became the leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and in Zambia’s first multiparty election which took place on October 31, 1991, the Chiluba-led MMD defeated Kaunda’s UNIP and Chiluba was sworn in as Zambia’s second president since independence amidst wild, widespread celebrations, thus ending the 25-year rule of UNIP. The BBC magazine, “Focus On Africa” of January-March 1992 put him on its cover with the caption, “Small Man – Big Victory”!
After Chiluba’s first term of five years, he contested and won a second term. But his attempt to amend his country’s constitution to get a third term in office received no support from the parliament despite the overwhelming majority his party enjoyed there. Immediately he left office, his successor, Mr. Levy Mwanawasa, whom he had campaigned vigorously for, ordered his trial for massive corruption. He continued to face trial despite his failing health. The government announced in May 2008, that it had recovered nearly $60 million in money and assets allegedly stolen during Chiluba’s presidency.
Earlier, on May 4, 2007, in a civil case instituted against him in the United Kingdom, Judge Peter Smith found him guilty of embezzling some $46m (£23m) of public funds. A columnist with The Post, one of Zambia’s independent newspapers, Roy Clarke, dismissed Chiluba as “a vain, cross-dressing, high-heel wearing, adulterous, dwarf thief.”
We are entitled to believe that Professor Adekunle shares our shock and bewilderment over the statement which CNN carried as BREAKING NEWS:
“Some graduates cannot recite the alphabet”
– Brigadier-General Shuaibu Ibrahim
Director-General, National Youth Service Corps
Equally puzzling is the front-page report of “The Punch” newspaper of September 12, 2019
Headline: “WE SPEND $1 BILLION ON NIGERIA ANNUALY, SAYS U.S.”
“The United States has said it spends about $1bn on security, health and education in Nigeria annually.
The American government also said it was ready to do more.
The Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy in Nigeria, Kathleen Fitzgibbon, made these known in Abuja on Wednesday when she led a team of US officials on a visit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Fitzgibbon said it was the first opportunity for the Americans to meet with Gbajabiamila and congratulate him on his election as Speaker of the House.
She said, “We want to come in and talk about what our bilateral programme looks like so that we can work more closely with the members of the House. We donate about $1bn a year and I do not think most people understand that. We invest in people in terms of health and education. We also have a lot of funding going into securing people, particularly in the North-East and elsewhere. And we also have a big portion in economic investment, helping the private sector whether small or large.
“It is the largest portfolio and investment in the diplomatic relationship we have with Nigeria since I can remember. My first tour here was in 1999, so I consider myself in the class of the 1999 of the National Assembly, because I spent a lot of time with the members and senators at the time and we did a lot of programmes in legislative process both at federal and state levels. We had a very robust relationship.”
She also said the US would want to know how the National Assembly was handling issues bordering on leadership, legislation, budget, petroleum, intellectual property rights.
Fitzgibbon added, “We are sending 10 of your folks to Washington in November to work with our congress. We have already started the process.”
Gbajabiamila, who expressed surprise at the announcement (of those going to Washington), asked the diplomat to name the beneficiaries.
Fitzgibbon named the beneficiaries as the clerks of committees, including Defence, Trade and Investment, Petroleum, Anti-Corruption, Niger Delta, Health and Legislative Library.
Gbajabiamila thanked the US for the interest it had shown in Nigeria and the National Assembly in particular.
The Speaker lamented the inability of the National Assembly to have a standard library, calling on the US to assist the parliament.
He said, “Investing $1bn annually is actually worth commendation. And the areas that you particularly enumerated – security, health, education – are areas that are important to a growing democracy such as ours.
Our democracy is fashioned after that of the US and you are reputed to have one of the best libraries in the world – The Congressional Library. We have created a new Committee on Library Research and Documentation. We will need your input and collaboration.”
By nature, disposition and professional training, the author is not a noise-maker. However, he has a reputation for not suffering fools gladly which places him amongst the discerning of whom Albert Einstein remains the reference point:
“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”
By a cruel irony and twist of fate, the same South Africa where Professor Adekunle served with distinction and dedication has chosen to repay Nigeria (and Nigerians) in bad coin. On CNN, the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs Grace Naledi Pandar damned Nigeria and Nigerians:
“Nigerians in South Africa are criminals, drug dealers (the author only ever prescribed drugs for healing!!) and human traffickers.”
Thankfully, the author can with justifiable pride and confidence claim to be a global citizen with footprints in India; United Kingdom; United States of America; South Africa and of course Nigeria. Regardless, his passion and commitment to his home town Abeokuta; his “tribe” Egba/Yoruba; and Nigeria are stamped all over his book.
Here are some snippets:
i.) “Egbaland was an independent kingdom by the treaty of Egba Independence signed on 18 January, 1893.”
ii.) “Esubiyi engaged in various war exploits and campaigns with Aloba. When the pugnacious urge of fighting ceased, sanity and peace returned to Yoruba land.”
iii.) They were recognisable and prominent people in town (Abeokuta). We couldn’t afford to bring the family’s names down. There was nothing like cultism and gangsterism as we now know.”
iv.) “I look back with nostalgia that I was being ‘driven to school’ by my father on a Raleigh bicycle.”
v.) “While I was doing my surgical training at the UCH (University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan), the Teaching Hospital was the fourth best in the Commonwealth.”
Then comes a touch of humour:
“In an instance a female colleague walked up to me and said, ‘Ope I think I have a lump. Please feel it in my breast!!”
As a counterpoise, we have evidence of frustration:
i.) “How I wished Obasanjo (General Olusegun Obasanjo) had only adjusted Vision 2010 and moved on with its implementation. As it is the usual practice in Nigeria, every new administration comes up with a new policy initiative instead of building on the previous one.”
ii.) “In contrast to the situation in high-income OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] nations, the vast majority of Nigerians are ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed and ill-educated. They live in the rural areas characterised by massive underdevelopment.”
Professor Adekunle has taken great pains to enlighten us by reminding us that he is no stranger to failure.
i.) “I did not pass Physics at the HSC (Higher School Certificate) level.”
ii.) “It is my candid view that all these policy somersaults would have been unnecessary if the Vision 2010, which came after Babangida’s [IBB] Structural Adjustment Programme [SAP] had been embraced, improved and used as a “continuum” and as a base plan for a stable economy”
Regardless, he was spurred to numerous superlative achievements and spectacular distinctions to wit:
i.) “I obtained distinctions in Physiology and Obstetrics and Gynaecology (from the Medical College, Cuttock, Orissa, India)
ii.) “I attended a specialist post graduate course at Hammersmith Hospital, University of London. By October 1970, I was ready to face the final Fellowship Examinations. I then applied to sit the final examinations of both the Royal Colleges of Edinburgh and England. I passed both examinations. It was a record at that time because it would take two to three attempts to pass these examinations.”
iii.) “For a surgeon to be awarded a WHO (World Health Organisation) Fellowship in Public Health to Harvard University was regarded by many other colleagues as mission impossible. Strangely I was successful.”
When the author ponders on the Almighty, the boundary extends beyond “I believe that many things that happened in my professional life, came by the will of God.”
to the miraculous:
“When they (wife and children) finally arrived, I was told that they had been ambushed by armed robbers (on the Lagos Ibadan Expressway). What would one call this? Could it be attempted kidnap or just harassment? I thank God my family survived it.”
To crown it all, the most moving section of the book relates to his miraculous survival from a near fatal motor accident in 2003 in South Africa:
“I spent three months in the hospital and another three months for rehabilitation at Aurora Hospital in Port Elizabeth.”
In 2008, an uninvited guest came calling. Professor Adekunle was diagnosed with cancer (Myeloid Leukaemia) and given only three more years maximum before kicking the bucket.
“The projection was that I would have probably been a dead man by year 2011.”
Again, the Almighty intervened courtesy of experimental drugs which were still undergoing further research and testing. Hammersmith Hospital where he had previously undergone specialist training welcomed him as a patient.
“Behold, the medications started to work…”
Almost twelve years later, he is alive and well to tell the story to non-believers.
The author’s journey on earth inevitably included challenging ordeals while he was the Chief Medical Director of Lagos University Teaching Hospital. Amongst his traducers was an unnamed auditor (not J.K. Randle Professional Services!!)
“I told the auditors to audit the accounts of the hospital. To my surprise, they submitted their report direct to the board Chairman and did not bother to discuss with me, the Chief Executive, as should be the case. In collusion with my adversaries, the Board Chairman asked the Minister (Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti) to remove me.”
Again, the Almighty was on his side:
“The results of the storm were swift in coming. The Auditor-General upheld my submissions and asked the auditors to discuss their findings with me. At the end, the Board was dissolved, auditors were sacked and reported to their regulatory body.”
We should be forgiven for not dwelling too long on the formidable list o Nigerian military officers whose training/career paths crossed with that of Professor Adekunle in India and elsewhere – General Olusegun Obasanjo; General Ibrahim Babangida; General Muhammadu Buhari (who are still very much around) and late General Olufemi Olutoye; late Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu and late Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna.
Also on the list of the author’s military friends/acquaintances is late General Sani Abacha.
Even at the risk of being accused of partiality, (after all, the author’s father, Chief Gabriel Albert Oluwole Adekunle was an old boy of King’s College), we must acknowledge the formidable list of old boys of King’s College, Lagos who are mentioned in the book:
Rear Admiral (Surgeon) Bolaji Sojirin; Professor Bashir Akande; Professor Kayode Oyediran; Dr. Augustine Ani and Olorogun (Dr.) Sunny Kuku. They all passed the litmus test with flying colours!!
As for me the book reviewer, the jury is still to deliver its verdict.
All that remains is for me to thank Professor Adekunle for his riveting account of the founding of the Abeokuta Club and his meticulous account of the magnificent and pioneering roles played by Chief Sobo Sowemimo, SAN; Dr. Seni Sikuade; Chief Ebenezer Folorunsho Oke; and Chief Muraina Akanni Dokunmu.
“The club was formally launched at Abeokuta on 5 August 1972, the coronation of Oba Oyebade Lipede.”
The Patron of the Club was His Majesty, Oba Mofolorunso Oyebade Lipede, CFR.
The first Vice- Patrons were: –
– Chief, Sir, Adetokunbo Ademola, GCFR, the first Chief Justice of Nigeria.
– Chief Simeon Adebo, CFR, late Head of Service, defunct Western Region of Nigeria and Nigerian Representative to the United Nations.
– Chief J. F. Odunjo, a renowned author.
– Dr Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi, OFR, Administrator of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria and former Minister of Health of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
– Professor Saburi Biobaku, Secretary to the Executive Council of Western Nigeria’s Government, under Chief Obafemi Awolowo and later Vice chancellor of the University of Lagos.
– Chief O. B. Akin-Olugbade, Balogun Owu and a foremost lawyer.
All are now late.
For someone who is seemingly apolitical, Professor Adekunle has provided us with fascinating insights in the section of the book captioned:
MOSHOOD KASHIMAWO OLAWALE ABIOLA’S SAGA.
It is a spellbinding account of what the author witnessed at first hand – the intrigues, deceptions, betrayals, treachery, mendacity and brigandage that constituted the consequences and sub-text of the June 12 1993 election (arguably the fairest and freest presidential election we have ever held in this country).
In an effort to draw the curtain on this watershed and epochal event, we have the following paragraph to wrestle with:
“The Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari had finally and formally restored the honour due to MKO Abiola on May 29, 2018. President Buhari declared unequivocally that Chief MKO Abiola won the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election. Muhammadu Buhari had helped Professor Humphrey Nwosu, the 1993 Electoral umpire, who was prevented from announcing that MKO Abiola won that Presidential election, complete and conclude the assignment.
That is, MKO Abiola was no longer to be referred to as the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Also, and very remarkably too, June 12 every year is to be celebrated as the ‘Democracy Day in Nigeria’”
As for the author’s total commitment and devotion to Vision 2010/ Vision 2020, it is a matter for regret that he was lured and misled by the masters of deception who thrive in the alternative universe into volunteering his time, energy and other resources to an exercise that was doomed to fail.
Nobody can fault his patriotism, selfless service and professionalism in handling the tasks assigned to him. Unfortunately, he had veered from the operating (surgical) theatre to an arena which is a jungle for warriors that regard the likes of Professor Adekunle as intruders who should merely be tolerated and eventually discarded. Whatever reports or blueprints were delivered to the powers that be are still gathering dust under lock and key.
As we speak, according to the World Bank, Nigerians spend about U.S. $ 15 billion annually on medical tourism. Ironically, our own doctors are simultaneously emigrating in droves.
The statistics are truly alarming.
The last word belongs to Joel A. Barker:
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”
Professor Adekunle by his pedigree may have been ill prepared for the politics of money and grand deception which are the common currency in our nation’s affairs.
It is not as if the author is flaunting his pedigree and academic credentials. All he has done is to meticulously document the facts and he has been rightly rewarded with the National Merit Award of his Alma Mater, Government College, Ibadan. The recognition only serves to confirm that Professor Adekunle has never compromised the strictures and admonition of his ancestors:
“I can never forget the admonition of my paternal grandfather whenever the family assembled on Boxing Day for Christmas celebrations at ‘Igbogun Village’.
‘Exact no more than what is appointed to you. Be content with your wages’
My grandfather the Baagbile of Kemta Abeokuta (1877 to 1965) was a man of outstanding qualities: courage, integrity, generosity and industry. He would speak the truth irrespective of the personality involved. Cringing or begging for favours was not part of him. He believed in hard work and hated any form of corrupt practices. Later, my father advised the family to cultivate the qualities of patience and endurance (Suru ati Afarada)
I sincerely hope that I have lived up to their expectations.”
He has certainly done so with great panache and eloquence.
However, in doing so, he has meticulously examined the body and soul of Nigeria (and Nigerians). The diagnosis leaves us in no doubt about the gravity of the ailment and the recalcitrance of the patient to submit to surgery at the hands of a surgeon of great distinction who like his colleague in Bhutan, Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering has come to the conclusion that our nation’s wealth is to be measured in terms of the happiness (or alternatively its inverse ratio) of our fellow citizens.
In his book, the author has exposed the wounds and ailments of our nation to public glare in breach of the Hippocratic Oath. We must regard him as a first-time offender. He means no harm.
Going by the vigour and despondency of the non-stop debate on social media, the unrepentant cynics have concluded that ours is a nation where daylight robbery goes on all night.
The book serves as a wake-up call or Surgeon-General’s warning addressed to a nation where the rootless and ruthless are in the majority.
We can only align with Professor Adekunle in agonising over our nation’s moral quality where there are no scruples over shifting loyalties.
Professor Adekunle has inspired us to believe that if he can defeat cancer, so can our nation overcome its ailments which hopefully are not terminal.
Our dreams may perish but our nation must not die.
The author has provided us with his witness statement supported with a full medical report.
The vultures are hovering in the sky above – waiting for the patient (our nation) to be wheeled into the intensive care unit only for the good doctor, which the author is, to proclaim: there is no pulse; no heartbeat.
We must join hands with Professor Opeoluwa Adekunle to provide Nigeria with life support. One book may not be enough!! Nevertheless, we must not pull the plug.
– Nov. 22, 2019 @ 15:55 GMT |