Dr. Adesola Adedayo Secretary-General of National Association of Resident Doctors in Kwara State between 1984 and 1985. Served as Chairman of Apapa-Iganmu Local Council Development Area(LCDA) from 2007 to 2014. The 67 year-old House of Representatives aspirant on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) spoke with reporters on the recent state congresses, zoning and rotational presidency, and qualities expected from President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor. EMMANUEL OLADESU was there.
The exercise was largely successful. It was peaceful and that is one of the signs that those of us who are members look at when things like these come up. In any contest, for example, if you want to be chairman, there can only be one chair at a time, and if there is only one man to be a chairman, once you appoint someone, the other fellows must work together with the appointed person as a family.
If you look at APC in Lagos, it has always been like that as a progressive platform, from the days of Alliance for Democracy, AD, to where we are now, it has always been struggling for relevance, and at the end of the day, somebody has to take the lead. So, in fact, there are people that are disgruntled and they complained, but what I usually tell people is that people only complain when it doesn’t favor them, for those who are successful and members of the exco now, everything works well. What I keep telling people is this, anytime you are struggling for a particular position, look at a larger picture, it is the larger picture that will determine where we are going, and that is why as a larger picture, we must all come in.
So, we must look at a larger picture, and for those of us in South-West, the larger picture we are looking at is Asiwaju 2023.
An activist is somebody who leaves his own matter and continues to pursue the interest of others. As an activist and a member of the student union at the University of Ibadan during the “Ali Must Go era,” it strengthens me, whatever cannot kill one, makes one stronger. All along, I have been a progressive activist, always running around to make sure things are better, some people might think that some of us are too loud, stubborn, but without being stubborn, one is going nowhere in this life. I read a paper about the will to power by Fredrick Nietzsche, I found out that you are what you make of yourself. As an activist, it has prepared me well in every area where I have operated as a medical doctor, zonal pastor in Redeemed Christian Church of God or as a politician in a community, it has been very helpful as far as I am concerned.
What I believe is this, which I have said earlier on that there is always room for accommodation. Our leaders must find a way to accommodate these people, it is not a new thing. And when you have a leader with a large heart, that has the ability to accommodate people, it is not difficult to achieve. There are some people we have thought they can never be accommodated but they have been accommodated in the past, and the APC boat is large enough to contain diverse opinions.
I was in Harvard about two years ago where I took an executive course on how to manage diversity. It was a 10-day intensive training for the executives on how to manage people with diverse opinions, we are going to have such people but we can always accommodate them.
We know the strength of one another. People may have the opportunity to make a lot of noise because of social media but we know one another strengths. There is a saying among young people that Bi Olubadan ba wo nika, o mo egbe eniti nse. Some people are making noise because they want to be heard and relevant, there is no way this can be stopped, even in a family, if asked to produce a leader among a family, there will still be an argument of one being better than the other. What I am saying is that no matter the crisis the APC is going through, it is still better than the PDP, it will be full hardy of us to give power to people who have messed us up for 16 years and we have using the past 6 years to mend the damages caused by the PDP.
For instance in Kwara, there are only two people there against each other, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the governor. Some of the things they are saying are something that politicians of their caliber shouldn’t be saying. You don’t audit elections, it cannot be audited. If one wants to justify every kobo you spent during an election, you will not run. The governor needs to accommodate those who were working before he came on board. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in spite of whatever one wants to say about him, has been the one holding the progressives together before this governor came on board. No matter what he might have done, they didn’t even give him one slot. And if we didn’t win the bye-election which brought Ajulo Olawuyi, who is in the House of Reps now, nobody had that confidence that we could take Kwara State from Saraki. It was that that gave us the green light that APC could win election in Kwara State. I think our leaders need to know this, the governor and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, inclusive need to know that there are certain clothes that they cannot be washed in the public.
One of our leaders, Asiwaju Tinubu, used to say that there is nobody that you will put a finger into his anus, and you not meet feaces there, even if it was cleaned with Dettol, you will still be asked what Dettol is doing in your private part. I think we have a crisis resolution process in the party, they should look into it to see they accommodate all of us. We all should look at the larger picture, for God’s sake. It doesn’t mean that if I am not a candidate now, everything should go to blazes, no, it doesn’t work like that. I think that in Lagos, when push comes to show, all these people that are agitating for one thing or the other, our leaders have the capacity to accommodate them, and I believe they will accommodate them.
We have people like Prince Olusi, the central leader. He has been in politics when some of us were still in school and Yoruba has a culture, we have a way of resolving issues to ensure they don’t blossom into big crisis. I have that abiding and deep faith that the leadership are capable of resolving it.
Things would have been different if he was around, there is no doubt about that. Asiwaju Tinubu has grace of finding a way of coming to an amicable solution, he would pacify them. Of course, he is the leader and a big coach, he can look at a particular player and say let’s get this on. Some of these people that are agitating now have agitated in the past and he settled them. When they would come back to him, you will be shocked. For instance, somebody who is very close to me was in the defunct ANPP, that was about the time Raji Fashola was about to be picked as out governorship candidate for Lagos State. This man approached me to say I should come and join his party. This same guy was also close to Asiwaju and I said no. They offered me the slot of House of Representatives at Apapa but I refused and said I was not leaving Asiwaju’s camp. Two days to the election, I was at Marina to see Asiwaju and met this man there. He came back and all those who were following him at that time lost out at the end of the day. I am sure some of those that are making noise when pacified, they will be okay, it is their followers who would be messed up.
Like I earlier said, and will keep on emphasizing, I have an abiding faith in his (Asiwaju) leadership and there is a grace upon him that is working for him. Whatever happens in Lagos is on the world stage, unlike something that is happening in a far remote corner of Nigeria.
The Southwest is the economic and political capital of Nigeria, and when anything happens in Lagos, even though it is no longer the capital, it is heard all over the world. One of Yoruba adages says ‘aisi n’ile ologini, ile d’ile ekute, t’ologini ba t’ajo de, ekute ile a paramo,’ literally meaning the absence of cat allows mouse to take over ownership of a house, but whenever cat returns home, the mouse will disappear.
I am one of those who is ever rooting for him, I will tell you the reasons why I am rooting for him and also the issue of age. When two boxers are about to engage each other in the ring, their records would be analyzed, telling us how many times each had fought, the knockouts, draws and wins each had recorded.That speaks for that boxer who has the highest record of victory and that sends shivers into the spine of the opponent. There are several ways of assessing a character either by what he says or action. By the action of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he has the capacity to be president, though a controversial figure, anybody who wants to leave a legacy must be controversial. Jesus Christ was controversial, that is why he has a legacy, Obafemi Awolowo was a controversial figure and he had a legacy. If we look at Asiwaju’s record as governor on how he catapulted the IGR of Lagos to the present situation when a former Emir could say if any state wants to go, the only one he wouldn’t like to miss is Lagos. The economy of Lagos is bigger than the economy of several African countries. I remember Governor Fashola said at a time that Lagos alone spent about N2bn on parties on every weekend, that is not mean economy. It was due to the handiwork of Tinubu, and he also builds followers. Go and look at those that have worked with him, they have become significant in Nigeria politics today, he is a visionary person. He is somebody that sees potentials in people, the present vice-president was from his school, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, his former Chief of Staff, has become a minister. He is from Kwara. Look at Fashola, he was also his former Chief of Staff, when he needed somebody who was not a hardcore politician and technocrat, see the height Fashola took Lagos to where many others are working to earn a living. There are other examples.
Many of the governors that are making noise now were made in Lagos, Ekiti State governor, Fayemi was made in Lagos, Saraki was made in Lagos, Daniel was made in Lagos and some others like that. Why should we deny him? There is a saying in the church that those who work at the altar must eat at the altar. This is a man who has sacrificed his life, passion, experience and wealth to build governors and people. Some of us are insisting that he should be the president, he will take Nigeria to greater height where Buhari has stopped. I can’t bet it will be better.
Talking of his age, I am a medical doctor, sometimes doctor will tell somebody he has only 10 years to live, at times, that doctor would die before that patient. Death and age are not related, otherwise, a one-year-old child will not die. When talking about age, nobody knows tomorrow, we are not God, don’t let us play god about somebody’s life. The time and age one is going to die, it is beyond us.
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For instance, the former American president, Bush, was in his seventies when he became the president. The present one, Joe Biden is also in his seventies. We are taking about capacity and character, he is somebody who will spread wealth all over. The blueprint of Tinubu is what we are still following in Lagos State. They’ve made younger people president, governors, House of Representatives members, Senate president and have messed up. As far as I am concerned, I don’t think we should dwell too much on age. Let me tell you this, experience is not bought from a market, it comes with age and exposure, Asiwaju is eminently exposed, experienced and one gets better with age. I am sure by the grace of God, when the time comes, everyone will find out that we have not made in wrong choice. Buhari has tried his best. Southwest is rooting, the South generally is rooting. It is time for presidency to come to the South. If we want the country to remain as a nation, whether it is an unwritten and gentleman agreement, it is in the interest of the survival of the country for presidency to rotate in the meantime. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo finished his own eight years, it shifted to North, but because of circumstances, it shifted to the South. The North will be completing its eight years after Buhari’s regime. I think if they want this country to move forward, any serious party will take from the South.
That’s expected. I have told you when there is a big prize, you will be surprised. In the Bible, James didn’t believe in Jesus, he is Jesus’ half-brother, he didn’t believe in him until he died. No doubt about that, there are some people that we may think they are with us but they are working with the opposition, we know, Asiwaju also knows. He has prepared for some of these backstabbing a long time ago. He is a character with a very big heart, it is the grace upon him that has made him to accommodate those who are brutal opponents and enemies before. Out of every 12 people following Tinubu, there is one Judas, when they are 144, they will be 12, but when we get to the bridge, we would cross it. I haven’t seen that figure in the South-West now that can match Asiwaju. He is in the mode of somebody like Moshood Abiola, I believe everybody will rally round him when the time comes. All these oppositions will come back, some of them are being pushed from outside.
I will not like to preempt God but I know that even the leaders of the North know what the South can do. Taking you back memory lane, in 1998 when AD was formed, AD didn’t meet the requirements to be registered as a party but they knew there will be no democracy if they sidelined the South-West which was represented by AD at that time. They were forced to recognize AD, I have this confidence that they will microzone the presidency to the South-West. Buhari also said when he became the president that there were some regions that didn’t vote for him but expected him to leave those who supported him, declaring there is nowhere that is done, when you leaves the people who has backed you up. When talking about a character, he put people who didn’t struggle for power into power, those who have given up and have decided to resign to fate, they became presidents. There were people who couldn’t win a councillorship election, they were given tickets to become governors, House of Representatives members and so on. We are now talking about this man, as far as I am concerned, it is payback time for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Power belongs to God, the first thing I usually tell them is that we should pray to be alive and well. I have tried twice, the first time, I was defeated in the primaries by Ayodeji who subsequently went to House of Representatives and I supported him with my members. Apapa is made up of two constituencies, Constituency 1, the main Apapa and Constituency 2 which is Apapa-Iganmu. In 2019, the people of Apapa Constituency 1 said they didn’t want Ayodeji to run again, but we in Apapa-Iganmu insisted we must run against them, but at the end of the day, the leadership said that we should allow Apapa to complete their term with whoever they want, that was why Honourable Egberoungbe was picked. So Apapa Constituency One has done their term, it is now time for it to shift to Constituency Two.
I am interested in running as I have been urged by my followers and even by the people of the constituency, but I still need the blessing of the leadership. I don’t how they will arrive at it, either by consensus or direct primaries. Like I said earlier, I have an abiding faith in the leadership that they will do what is right for the people of Constituency 2 in Apapa, and I pray that God should spare our lives in good health to witness it.
I am 67 years old today, I have been a doctor for 43 years now. I qualified as a medical doctor in 1979. I started my clinic at Ijora in 1988, you can just go and make inquiry from people. If I am interested in making money, I will not be living where I am now. My hospital is like a general hospital, people go there. I will do my best, I have a passion to help people. It might be too late to buy a plane or yacht but it is never too late to help people. I was a member of the University of Ilorin Council for four years, our term expired in May.
I facilitated the admission of more than 300 students in my local government, some of them sent birthday wishes to me today saying they are among the students I assisted, those are things that make me happy, that I am able to touch the lives of ordinary people who had thought they would not be able to go to school. I have been buying forms even when I wasn’t a politician for people of my constituency as far back as year 2000, I have been sponsoring them to go to university. There are some of them that here today that I can’t even recognize again. There was a boy from Ondo State, I met him in the church, he was supposed to spent 3 years but spent 5 years in the university. I didn’t meet his father until his wedding day. On his wedding day, when we were waiting for his father, the boy said the ceremony must go on because his father was here. He lived in my house for many years. Everything is not just about money, I am nearer my grave than when I was born, so what else do I want? I have built my house since 2003 before I became the chairman in 2007. All my children have graduated before I became council chairman, my children are doctors and engineer, my only grandson doesn’t need any scholarship, he is a British-Canadian citizen but somebody helped me. My parents are illiterate, what elevated me to this position is education. The people from my community like Chief Adedoyin, Jolayemi who are also doctors, if I didn’t go to school, I wouldn’t be able to move near these people. Education lift you up, you will be able to talk to some caliber of people. One of the things I am passionate about is that we need to create an enabling environment for the young people, otherwise, we are courting disaster. Whether we like it or not, if we don’t allow them to grow, one day, they will become a problem to us.
I am also a farmer, I have a 200 hectares of Cashew farm in Kwara. By the time those Cashew nuts mature, I will be approaching 80, is it because of what I want to eat now? I an a zonal pastor in the Redeem Christian Church of God, I fast consistently.
By the grace of God, many people don’t see doctors until they die, the majority of people are healthy for a large percentage of their lifetime. So when one is talking about a doctor, we are talking about the sickly, only a small percentage of people go to the hospital. The larger population are those that are in the community like traders, farmers, and if one must influence them, one has to move out of his/her comfort zone which is the medical practice. A lot can be done but more people can be reached as a politician. I read one of the books by a philosopher, the first and best profession is politics, because of the ability to address a larger number of people. What I can do as an individual, as a council chairman, it can reach a bigger population.
And some of the reasons we have challenges is that doctors are not involved in politics, that is why we always have one crisis or the other. If doctors are involved, we will not be sacrificial lambs. If we are like lawyers, things would not be like this for the the profession. If one is not involved and keeps aloof, they will just be looking at you. One has to participate and let your voice be heard. Like I said, in the Bible, Samuel was a leader, prophet and a seer, he was managing all the positions. Back in the village, I was living with the Baale of the village. I started my primary education in 1963 at Iludun at Class 3, I was at Holy Trinity, in Lagos before I went to the village. I was leaving with this Baale and was able to see the way a community was being managed. I was also an activist, and a secretary-general. I have always been involved in Kwara. I am like a youth leader in Kwara because I get involved; even at my age. Unless we all get involved, there will be no solution to our problems.
Some of the people that are quiet are causing harm to the country. There are two people that can cause harm to a community. The first set of people are those who know and they are not talking, they just keep quiet. The other set are those who don’t know but they are talking, they also spoil things. If you allow those who don’t know anything to have their way, they will mess things up. I used to tell my younger followers at Apapa-Iganmu that if they keep quiet and allow them enthrone a nonentity, once a nonentity is enthroned, it is always difficult to remove such person. This is because he or she would have been very powerful. The only way such person can be stopped is by not allowing him get there in the first place. There are collateral damages that we must guide against if this country must move forward.
So, we need to actually mobilize some people, diverse professions to come into politics and brainstorm on the way out of the crisis. Like I said, I am one of those that don’t want this country to disintegrate, but we need to re strategize and restructure. I am totally in support of restructuring, because where there is no equity, people will be disgruntled and a disgruntled fellow may not have power to fix things but can destroy things.
I don’t want to address the doctors’ issue in isolation, I want us to look at the health professionals in totality. We need to sit down and look at a formula on how to accommodate our health professionals like nurses, doctors, lab scientists as a whole. Look at when lecturers are running away from the universities, they came up with a formula to have a special scale for lecturers, something like that can be done for doctors and health professionals. If doctors are not paid well, they will leave and we will be the ones at the losing end. There is no doctor that has been self-educated. The system trained most of the doctors, and after graduation, few months down the line, it loses doctors to the United Kingdom and our people are suffering back home. It is not everybody that is not contented and want to leave, some just want a little push so that they can meet their needs. We don’t have good statistics in Nigeria, people are dying in large numbers because of absence of the needed health professionals. We must also go back to drawing board, we need to enlarge our medical schools to produce more doctors. Indian doctors are in UK, and in America in large number but the country is still a good place to seek medical help. Cuba has one of the largest educated population, virtually everybody in Cuba is literate and their health system is so strong. When there is a special problem, a special solution must be proffered, we re in serious dilemma, we must look for solution outside of the box to solve the health professionals issue. Don’t let us think that we are healthy now, when it is one’s turn, that is when one will understand the importance of health professionals. I have tried to reach out to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, that there will be need to do a special scale, just like they are doing for teachers.
Again, the shortage of nurses to doctors is scandalous, if a doctor is employed into private practice, in the next three months, the doctor is likely to leave for UK, once they pass a professional course. There are a class of people called auxiliary nurses, the government is insisting they don’t want to recognize them. Get these people to your side, let them go back to school, do short courses for them, accommodate them into the system. They will be useful in one way of the other. Even in America and other developed countries, nurses prescribe medicine for patients, which was the sole prerogative of doctors in the past. The first set of doctors we had in Nigeria didn’t go to medical school, they attended Yaba College of Technology, they were trained to do minor surgeries and they were called doctors in those days. We are in that situation now where we need to accommodate other health professionals.
In Canada, if one wants to study medicine, one will be asked to do an immersion for one year and afterwards, one will be allowed to go to school of medicine and be absorbed into the system. If I were a health commissioner, I will allow them to accommodate them. We have been fighting for years over this issue, we have not won yet, why don’t we accommodate them and make sure we absorb them into the system? In Apapa-Iganmu community, there is hardly a family that doesn’t have an auxiliary nurse attending to them. When, the regulatory body in charge of Lagos private institutions are coming, they only go to those registered institutions. For every one registered institution, there are about nine that are unregistered and operating underground, they have a way of reaching our to people, they are easily accessible. Doctors are naturally arrogant people, I am one of them. We don’t usually speak the language of the patients, so people prefer to go to the traditional medical expert who will sit with them and see them as friends while doctors see their patients from a point of master mentality, when there is a master morality relationship, there is no way one can get the best of the relationship. Whereas reverse is the case, patients are masters to doctors. For instance, we wanted to operate a patient, the anesthetist, surgeon, nurses were there but no patient, at the end of the day, we all had a rethink that the most important person is the patient. It is because patients are available, that is why we are called doctors. We have to sit at a round table even with those that we think they are not part of the profession; they may also have some inputs.
Some of things I learnt at Harvard. There was an aeration problem with one of their buildings in Kenya, the architects and structural engineer were summoned but they couldn’t solve the problem. The person who eventually solved the problem was someone who studied insects, he asked them to look at the way bees organized their hills and how ventilated they are and that was how the problem was solved. They called the biggest engineer, architect and structural engineer to deal with it but none could solve the problem until somebody who was in tune with nature was called and the person brought their attention to the way ants organized their anthills.
We will be deceiving ourselves if we think the solutions will come from only doctors and health professionals, it can come from somebody who is a musician that is inspired. There are so many problems that we can solve like that. If we look at our country, we are going down in all the parameters and in order for us to change the tide, we need to look at the solution holistically.
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