Tag Archives: LUTH

Becoming a Stateless Nigerian..!

Adeola Aderounmu

Around 1989/1990 I applied for the Lagos State Scholarship Board Award /Grant. The intended study would have allowed me to pursue a medical career at foreign University. When I was invited to the interview there were strong indications that I was a top candidate because I had scored 6 distinctions in all the subjects that I took in the GCE exams.

Backed by strong recommendations from two of my secondary school teachers added to 6 more distinctions and 2 credits in my WASC I was confident of my upcoming sponsored academic trip abroad.

As the interview progressed it seemed that all was well until one woman on the panel of interviewers asked me what became the critical question. I know one Aderounmu at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and you are actually a carbon copy of him, do you know him, she asked?

I answered in the affirmative because she was referring to my dad’s cousin Bukola Aderounmu whom I’d hardly met. I cannot even describe the man in 4 sentences yet I was being told at this interview that we look alike. By asking that question, the woman was actually trying to let everyone know that my family is from Ogun State. The interview ended and I never heard a word again from the LSSB.

To give a clearer picture: I was born in Lagos and when I started primary school my father always made it clear to me that my state of origin is Lagos but I discovered later that my parents are actually from Abeoukta in Ogun State. It became a tedious routine to always make those trips from Festac Town to Agege Local Government at the beginning of each school year.

I had to collect proof of origin every term and of course tax clearance certificates of parents. Was my dad avoiding this trip to Abeokuta to obtain evidence of origin? How convenient it was to say that we were from Amuwo Odofin Local Government when the local governments became proliferated just like that!

I remembered that at a certain point when we could make our own decisions, the children all reverted to Ogun State. But what do I know about Ogun State? Before I left Nigeria in 2002, I can count on my fingers how many times I have been to Abeokuta.

In 1986 age 14 I went to Abeoukta to attend a chieftaincy title ceremony of some family members. I was held spellbound to discover that we even had a McGregor in our extended family! I cannot remember any other time that I went to Ogun State before then.

Around 1988 or thereabout I went to Igbogila to visit my grandfather who had left Abeokuta and relocated to this quiet town perhaps even before I was born. Up to this day, I don’t even know if Igbogila is in Oyo, Osun or Ogun State.

My third memory of Ogun State was when I went as a tourist taking along with me the members of NAZS, UNILAG chapter. It was during this excursion in 1994 that I re-discovered places like Lantoro and Olumo rock. We went to a famous abattoir but I don’t remember where.

Interestingly in December 2001, I went to Abeokuta with some colleagues from MEDILAG. We attended the wedding ceremony of a friend and co-researcher. While the wedding ceremony was in progress, I quickly dashed out of the church and waved down a taxi. I told the driver that I was going to the house of the Produce Buyer.

Apparently, my mother’s father Fidimaiye Majekodunmi was a famous merchant in his days. He died in 1972 just before I was born but in 2001 the taxidriver could still take me to his house unhindered.

I had no address with me and my mother just told me to mention produce buyer to any taxi driver. It worked like magic! I arrived safely in front of the house and my grandmother was shocked but overwhelmed with joy that her grandson came. My grandmother died a few months later and I was already in Europe at that time.

I am still happy that I saw her that fateful day sometime in Dec 2001 and it was very shocking to see that my mother’s family house is just next door to Olumo rock. From my grandmother’s room, I could almost touch Olumo rock that I had climbed as a tourist in 1994. I was moved to tears. I mean, I came as a tourist to my parents’ homeland.

But I remain worried about my present Nigerian status. Lagos is still the only place that I know. In fact, I can get lost once I go outside Festac Town. My conscious and unconscious trips to Ogun State are definitely less than 10 occasions-of which I remember 4. I almost did my youth service in Lagos but I was contented with knowing Ibadan for those 10-12 months.

During my service year I was always back to Festac at least once a month. While I studied at UNILAG, I went back home every weekend. I could fall sick if I missed any of those Saturday or Sunday football games on our stony field. It was almost criminal to even miss the church service before the Sunday games.

I am afraid that I actually don’t have any (political) constituency in Nigeria. Lagosians will be quick to tell me that my name is Ogunish and tell me that I look like one Aderounmu or Majekodunmi, that my family houses are in Abeokuta and Igbogila-and where is Igbogila for goodness sake?

Ogun State will not forget to tell me that I don’t know my way around the state. I don’t even know the size and economic strength of the State. But I can read those in the books. I’m good at that. In both situations, the segregation and discrimination in our society will be exposed and exploited.

Nigeria is a society that is seriously segregated and divided. We go abroad and complain of racism but we are more racist to one another in Nigeria than the Americans or Europeans are towards us.

My father must have had one Nigeria in mind when he decided to tell us that we (his children) are Lagosians. We were all born in Lagos. We went to school in Lagos and had very little contact or connections with Abeokuta.

Even my grandfather made Igbogila his home, owning houses and farmlands. My father did not even bother to inherit any of those materials. He wasn’t bothered with parental possessions/inheritance. So who inherited my grandfather’s landed property? My father’s mother was based in Agege for all the years that I knew her. There were no Ileya Festivals without a traditional visit to Iya Eleja. She would have sponsored the Aso Ebi well in advance. Oh my God, how we dressed in uniforms-children, grandchildren and great grandchildren!

My mother’s mother was called Mama Onifade because she settled and lived on Onifade Street after she returned from her several years of business sojourn to Ghana. She went back to Abeokuta towards the end of her life. As a Medilag student/employee, I was excited to rediscover Onifade Street near the second gate exit of LUTH. It was nostalgic when my mother told me that was where we went visiting Mama Onifade.

Here I am paying huge taxes in Stockholm and contributing to the development of Sweden and not even certain of where exactly I belong in Nigeria. I know my way around Europe but I can easily be declared missing if I take a trip within Nigeria. Where is my constituency in the federal character system? Have I become a stateless Nigerian? I think so.

But I would rather serve on merit than on federal character-a subtle licence that has destroyed the foundations and efficiency of the nation. I would love to be taken for what I am and the principles that I radiate rather than where I come from. I long for home but please give me a state or even a constituency first!

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This article was published in the Nigerian Punch Newspaper onb April 11 2009

On Becoming a Stateless Nigerian

Confronting the rot in LUTH By Hope Eghagha

Culled from the Nigerian Guardian August 5 2008

AS we try to define ourselves as a nation, there are certain institutions that ought to stand firmly and serve as centres of excellence. No nation worth its salt ought to toy with the health of the people. One of the institutions I grew up to meet as an excellent health centre is Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba. Its name was a dread, as the final arbiter on health matters. I remember the first time my General physician referred me to LUTH, the question that cropped to my lips was: ‘Am I in such a terrible shape? This was back in the 1990s. I reluctantly went, endured the slow pace, incompetence but eventually went home smiling. Since then I have had cause to go to LUTH on visits on several occasions. My ears had always tingled with stories of gross and criminal inefficiency in that ‘centre of excellence’. I was a distant observer until the events of June 23, 2008.

A husband and his wife, Israel and Viviane Emuophe, vibrant and hopeful in the abundance of life offered by life were knocked down by a drunk driver on Sunday the 22nd of June right in front of a house along Lekki/Ajah road where they had gone visiting. Good Samaritans rushed them to a clinic nearby. The wife, a Youth Corps member serving in Lagos State and eight months pregnant was badly wounded on her lower limb. As for the man, we found out later that he was fractured on both legs. The doctor in the temporary hospital in Ajah advised that the limb be amputated immediately. Instead of referring the patients to LUTH or Igbobi for specialist intervention, he kept them there throughout the night. He was more interested in his hefty fees (over a hundred thousand naira for stabilising them overnight!). Friends and relations on the ground advised against outright amputation. In their view, such a decision should be taken at Igbobi. The patients were moved to Igbobi early the next morning. Igbobi advised that the lady be taken to LUTH. That was where we encountered criminal inefficiency and neglect of the first order.

The lady arrived at LUTH at about 10 in the morning. It took the intervention of a retired Matron in LUTH for the victim to receive minimal attention in the Emergency Unit. We were asked to buy almost everything that was needed to treat an emergency case. We patiently did. The decision was announced that there would be surgery. The patient was moved to the theatre. As at 4p.m., nothing concrete had been done. That was when we decided (Dr. Clement Edokpayi and I) to call up some of our colleagues who work in LUTH. We also called up people in town who had some influence in the health sector to reach people in the management of LUTH. A matron on duty gave a false report to one of our contacts that the lady was already in the theatre. I countered that immediately. We found out that as at that time, there had been no official communication with any of the consultants to handle the job. Our intervention worked. The doctors showed up.

We started the process of getting this and getting that. At about 9.30p.m. when all was set for the surgery, we were told that an x-ray had not been done. She was wheeled back to the x-ray room where I confronted the Professor in charge. His explanation was plausible. Except cases are referred to him, he cannot do an x-ray. Finally, the x-ray was done and at this time we were only interested in saving the life of the lady. Her baby we suspected was gone. Her little cries of ‘I want my life’, made it imperative for some action to take place. Surgery intervention finally took place at about 12 midnight. My little Christian sister lost both her right limb and her eight month pregnancy.

My position is that in LUTH the simple routines and procedures expected have been compromised. Nobody is in charge. No doubt, the consultants and doctors are efficient. In their private clinics, they do very well. LUTH is currently a carcass of itself. This is not the LUTH that the wife of a Head of State patronised when she was going to have her baby in the 1970s. The equipment is obsolete. LUTH is a danger to health care. The entire institution is a mortuary. Death smells around the wards. In the Modular Theatre, referred to as one of the best in the country, surgery could not take place there because there was no back up to power supply. Most of our colleagues we discussed the matter with simply agreed that the place needs to be overhauled. The concept of management currently in place should go. Who will overhaul LUTH?

Indeed LUTH is a victim of the corruption which has steadily crept into the country. The Obasanjo administration announced and launched new equipment for LUTH with fanfare. As we have found out, it was a fluke. None of those items deserves to be called modern. They were second hand, or Tokunboh bought for the purpose of making money for the boys.

LUTH needs to be thoroughly reorganised, re-structured, re-ordered. A new management that can enforce its rules should be put in place. If a patient comes in at 10 a.m. and does not receive attention until 4p.m., somebody should be penalised for it. This should be routine as it is in the medical profession. We do not need to report to SERVICOM for nurses and doctors to do their jobs. Most of the nurses are so indifferent to patients that I wonder where they were trained. During my last visit to the female surgical ward there was a breast cancer patient who kept howling for the duration of my visit. The nurse kept passing her by. I was told that she had been in that condition for three days. Where has the human spirit gone in LUTH?

The Minister of Health or the Federal Executive Council ought to intervene directly in LUTH. Management is practically dead in the place. Most of the consultants are first rate when they have to work outside LUTH. However, they work in an environment that lacks the basic tools. They cannot perform magic. Sadly, the available equipment is not efficiently utilised. This is the crux of the matter. There is too much indifference in the place. Too many patients die from lack of care and attention. Too many people are dissatisfied with working conditions.

It is very easy to give explanations and rationalise our inadequacies. I expect that LUTH would soon issue a rejoinder claming that its facilities are excellent and that staff are doing their best. But the truth is that no one who has the means takes his relation to LUTH. They simply go abroad. Perhaps this is at the core of the problem. The people who are in power do not patronise the hospital. German and American hospitals wait for them. Even our President has no faith in LUTH. But is a turn-around of LUTH not possible that would make the First Citizen of the country patronise it when next he is ill? With the necessary will, it is possible. This is all I ask for so that another young lady or man would not lose precious life or limb or both.