What We’re Doing To End Extreme Poverty Among Women, Youths – Maryam Uwais

Hajiya Maryam Uwais is the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Office of the Vice President. In this interview, she provided an update on the national social investment programs, among other activities of her office. Excerpts:

 

You have been coordinating the social investment programs of the Buhari administration in the last two years now. What exactly are you doing?

There are over 26 different programs that we discovered. We did a lot of research and found that some of them were quite effective but there were challenges. The beneficiaries were not really the poorest. A lot of them were selected in a manner that was not transparent. There was no defined method of ensuring that they were actually the poorest of the poor.

The other intervention had people from federal working at state level and that created a lot of tension. The federal officer would assert himself that the money was coming from the federal and that negatively impacted on monitoring and accountability. The state now refused to cooperate because whenever they demanded for information relating to what was happening from the federal, the federal would assert itself and say “I am in charge”. Thus, a conscious decision was taken to actually encourage the state to take ownership of these programs. We had to design a strategy for getting to the poorest of the poor.

Our trained officials now go to those households that have been identified and ask them questions like “how many people are in this household?  How many children? How many go to school?” You put it all down in a device that has a proximity testing formula that ranks everybody that you put on that device, from the poor down to the least poor. It is only those below a dollar a day that we actually pay.

Beyond that information, we ask the community “what is the nature of the access road here?” “How far is the nearest primary and secondary school?” “How far is the nearest primary healthcare center?” “How far is the nearest payment service provider?” All these matter when you want to graduate a community from poverty. There is a community where there is no primary school within 3 km. We showed government all these findings and said that for us to help these communities, we have to build primary schools nearer to them so that they can feel secure about their children walking to school. That is the kind of data we are collating in each state.

Now because it is a process, some states have been faster than others. Some states tell us “we already know who our poor people are” and they send us away. We tell them that we have to do it ourselves. We really need to get to the poorest people. There are many statistics, almost 80 million or thereabout are poor in this country. So you can give me poor people, but that doesn’t mean that they are the poorest. The National Social Register is where we pick people that are under a dollar a day in various communities. Reality is that a lot of these communities are very far from where you can get an ATM, or any bank. Some of them are so poor, that having a phone is a luxury.

What we did now is to work with the mobile money operators who have agents in the field. We pay them and they sign an indemnity with us. They go to those communities and pay them. We have communities as facilitators because we have people we work with that are elected by the communities. The person that receives the money signs off. Anybody that did not turn up, by the next payment, you would refund us the money. We would look and reconcile all the documentation. We were using the banks before but our banks are not interested in handling poor people. They want high network individuals that would pay thousands and millions of dollars. For our poor people, we have to handle them.

We are training the caregivers in basic financial skills and we see very interesting stories coming up. They are doing things like charcoal business, shea butter, weaving, and the rest. We pay them N10,000 every two months.

But your office is popularly known with N-Power instead of other activities? 

This is because N-Power has youths, they have social media, they are graduates that can speak English and can engage within the media. My passion is also with cash transfer because they are poor people and are as important. And journalists don’t go to interview them. I advise that you go to these people and amplify their stories. I tell you they have beautiful stories to tell.

Talking about school feeding, it was designed to boast pupil enrollment into schools. You know we have about 11 million out-of- school children. It was designed also to boast their nutrition. Then go empower our women in the rural communities; as well as boast production for our small holder farmers.

On this, we signed an MOU with the states. We had a stakeholder meeting with the states where they called the Ministry of Agriculture, Women Affairs, Finance, Education, Health to talk about what we intend to do where they designed a menu affordable in each state. We rely on the state to have an open process of selection. We hope they invite the school-based management committee, to invite the PTAs, sit down and do something that the community would feel is helpful. After they select the women, we go and train them on hygiene, allergy and sanitation.  We need the chairpersons if SUBEBs in the states because they know where the schools are located, the number of children to be fed, and so on. We are targeting Primary 1-3 because unfortunately the federal government doesn’t have enough money to cover Primary 4-6. They give us the numbers. We then asked the states to assign to each woman, not more than 150 children and not less than 70 children, because we want quality.  We did that because we want to track who is feeding who and where. So, when the cooks were selected, we also opened account for them because we want to pay them with their BVN. We identified cooperatives in the states where these women will be getting some ingredients such as eggs in bulk and in subsidized price.

There have been challenges. We have had situations where the state officials want to have a piece of the action. They have tried to divert monies and have spoken to the banks that they would do the supply. We have actually gone to SSS and EFCC to try to trace where those monies went because these women are not literate.

N-Power was designed as a Federal Government program to address unemployment of our youth, graduates and non-graduates, to support our artisans and also address the gap in our communities.

We found out that in some states we can have up to 300-400 children with no permanent teacher only if there is a youth corper there but there may be a head teacher. We needed to address that gap so we decided to employ teaching assistants. They can’t be teachers because they haven’t gone through the normal process.

We sat down with the Ministry of Agriculture who sat down with the private sectors in agric to draw up what their needs are. Our youths are not being groomed to be employed by government. It is about them setting up their own business. So if for two years, you are on a program, you will know where your interest lies. Is it in planting, harvesting, or packaging or export? You have been working there for two years so you know where the challenges are.

In the health sector, we sat down with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), and asked them to train them on the modules.

We also have motivational talks on taking charge of your own life, entrepreneurial skills, how to start up your own business, all of it is in that device. Each one of them gets that device.

We then decided to give everybody an open level playing field. When you apply on the portal, you would put in your BVN, your date of birth, your first, second and third name, and your phone Number.

At the end of the exercise, we had applications from over 774 Local governments. Many states didn’t actually believe even though I had briefed the governors on this matter. Very few of them designated business centers for youths to apply for the exercise. We had to use the information we had to do the selection. We decided to take 40 percent of each state application. Those states that were less than 1,000, we added a certain percentage.

On the issue of Abadan (in Borno State), it was first brought to my notice by Senator Kyari, who is in charge of that constituency. I was alarmed when I saw the names. When you open the portal and click on the local government, the first drop down was Abadan Local Government. My presumption then was that a lot of the people just put it in without realizing that they made a mistake. We later removed all of those people after a meeting. We then asked for the people of Abadan and found that only six people who actually lived in Abadan had applied. We now filled up the numbers with those that lived around Abadan so that they would be able to go and teach in the schools there.

When they applied, we then conducted tests for those that were in huge numbers. Those that were selected were about 200,000. We sent them texts informing them that they had been selected. We wanted to ensure that their qualifications were authentic and that they could be deployed to the nearest place that they lived. The state now sent back the deployment lists to us.

You recall that there were protests. Some of those protests were in states that were cosmopolitan. We discovered that states had replaced names, put their own indigenes and had dropped those that had actually received texts from us. For those of you who we sent texts to, we would set up a new verification exercise. I told the state leadership that if they wanted to do an employment intervention for their states, they should use their own money. This is a Federal Government programme. Thus we can’t say that because somebody doesn’t come from your state, he can’t work in your state. This is how we were able to address and start paying backlogs of people who had not been paid because they had been changed by their states. These are just the practical issues behind the N-Power.

The N-Agro is the most commercially viable. We hope to increase the number of the N-Agro this year. We also have the N-Zed, we’ve entered agreement with the automotive council and we’re selecting 20,000 graduates. We did an audit around the country and that was a long process. We would be paying those N10,000 for training in three months and they would now be interns in government or private owned institutions.

We’ve done the audit of all of that and we’ve done the deployment already. We are targeting a primary and secondary school in each senatorial district around the country but we don’t have the funds yet. We have agreed with the CISCO Academy to train them further. We would be putting in computers for the children to be taught programming, coding, animation, graphics and anything to do with ICT. We encourage them to begin to look at those topics while they’re young. For any government school that has more than 20 computers, we would send these trained ICT personnel to them.

You have activities involved so much logistics. How much is your budget?

The first year, we got N500 billion and we were only paid N80 billion. For the 2017 budget, we were given N400 billion and so far we got N55billion. This is why we strive very hard to cut our costs.

Finally, how long would it take you to achieve what you have designed? 

If a state is not ready to give us people that would work with us, we can’t work. If they are not giving us information, we can’t do anything. We have targets and these targets are subject to so many other things. We need the money, unless we have money to accommodate those issues, we can’t accomplish anything.

 

Culled From The Daily Trust Newspapers

Wow!!! Meet First Black Person To Obtain Ph.D In Biomedical Engineering

A Nigerian, Adeola Olubamiji is the first black person to obtain a PhD in the field of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

But she had very humble beginnings. From selling pepper on the streets of Ibadan, Nigeria to now being a distinguished PhD holder, Adeola has not had it easy. Here’s a snippet of her story:

“As the fifth child of five, I always had to wait for my turn. I was the last, a girl child and raised by a mother who is a farmer and a father who has little.

“I hawked pepper on the streets of Ibadan as early as age 10 to help my mum. Went to public primary and secondary schools in Ibadan. Attended OOU and studied Physics.

“Because I had a 2.1, it opened the door for me to proceed to Finland for a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering. During this Master’s degree, I worked part-time as a cleaner and did this after my Master’s as well.

Adeola Olubamiji is the first black person to obtain a PhD in the field of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. But she had very humble beginnings. From selling pepper on the streets of Ibadan, Nigeria to now being a distinguished PhD holder, Adeola has not had it easy. Here’s a snippet of her story: . “As the fifth child of five, I always had to wait for my turn. I was the last, a girl child and raised by a mother who is a farmer and a father who has little. . “I hawked pepper on the streets of Ibadan as early as age 10 to help my mum. Went to public primary and secondary schools in Ibadan. Attended OOU and studied Physics. . “Because I had a 2.1, it opened the door for me to proceed to Finland for a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering. During this Master’s degree, I worked part-time as a cleaner and did this after my Master’s as well. . “Out of determination, I applied to over 100 schools for my PhD and finally got a full three-year scholarship (later extended to four years) at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. . “While in that PhD programme, I worked part-time as a makeup artist, teaching assistant, braided hair and fixed weaves to make extra money. . “Today, I walked the stage as the first black person to bag a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada! . “I walked this stage for you Mama Africa and for my Motherland Nigeria! I walked the stage for all of you Black women disrespected and looked down on! . “I walked for all of you Africans in Finland wondering what is next for you!! . “Be bold, be innovative, be different, be you, be everything you want to be; but remember to put God first! . “Let no man, upbringing, money, circumstance, colourism, past mistakes, institution, company, partner, background, let nothing tell you ‘you can’t do it.’ . “Go smart! Go hard!! Go for Gold!!! Go with God!!! Just Get Going!!!!! . #JMSStories #JoMaxwellShow #JMS

A post shared by The Jo Maxwell Show (@jomaxwellshow) on

“Out of determination, I applied to over 100 schools for my PhD and finally got a full three-year scholarship (later extended to four years) at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering.

“While in that PhD programme, I worked part-time as a makeup artist, teaching assistant, braided hair and fixed weaves to make extra money.

“Today, I walked the stage as the first black person to bag a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada!

“I walked this stage for you Mama Africa and for my Motherland Nigeria! I walked the stage for all of you Black women disrespected and looked down on!
.
“I walked for all of you Africans in Finland wondering what is next for you!!
.
“Be bold, be innovative, be different, be you, be everything you want to be; but remember to put God first!
.
“Let no man, upbringing, money, circumstance, colourism, past mistakes, institution, company, partner, background, let nothing tell you ‘you can’t do it.’

“Go smart! Go hard!! Go for Gold!!! Go with God!!! Just Get Going!!!!!
.

Source: Instagram

Why Are African Judges Wearing Wigs 50 Years After British Colonialists Left

The British gave up their last colonies in Africa half a century ago. But they left their wigs behind.

Not just any wigs. They are the long, white, horsehair locks worn by high court judges (and King George III). They are so old-fashioned and so uncomfortable, that even British barristers have stopped wearing them.

But in former British colonies — Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Malawi and others — they live on, worn by judges and lawyers. Now, a new generation of African jurists is asking: Why are the continent’s most prominent legal minds still wearing the trappings of the colonizers?

It’s not just a question of aesthetics. The wigs and robes are perhaps the most glaring symbol of colonial inheritance at a time when that history is being dredged up in all sorts of ways. This year, Tanzanian President John Magufuli described a proposed free-trade agreement with Europe as a “form of colonialism.”

In Zimbabwe, Ousted President Robert Mugabe still refers to the British as “thieving colonialists.”

In June, the premier of the Western Cape province of South Africa was suspended from her party after writing on Twitter that modern health care was a colonial contribution.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has sparred with Britain for decades and denounces the West for what he calls a neo-colonial attitude, but he has a soft spot for a traditional etiquette and a dress code in the courts that even Britain has partly dropped. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)

The relics of colonialism are scattered across the continent. There are the queen’s namesakes: Victoria Falls north of Zimbabwe; Lake Victoria, bordering three countries in eastern Africa; Victoria Island in Nigeria. There is the left-lane driving, the cricket, the way public education is organised (not organized).

Most cities and streets have received new names since European rule ended. In 2013, Mugabe officially rebaptized Victoria Falls “Mosi Oa Tunya,” or “the smoke that thunders” in the Kololo language.

Yet the wig survives, along with other relics of the colonial courtroom: red robes, white bows, references to judges as “my lord” and “my lady.”

In nearly every former British colony, op-eds have been written and speeches made about why the wig ought to be removed. In Uganda, the New Vision newspaper conducted an investigation into the cost of the wigs, reporting that each one cost $6,500. In Ghana, a prominent lawyer, Augustine Niber, argued that removing wigs would reduce the “intimidation and fear that often characterize our courtrooms.”

One of the editors of the Nigerian Lawyer blog wrote that wigs weren’t made for the sweltering Lagos heat, where lawyers wilted under their garb. “The culture that invented wig and gown is different from our own and the weather is different,” Unini Chioma wrote.

Increasingly, though, opponents of the colonial outfit aren’t just arguing against inconvenience but against a tradition that African judiciaries appear to be embracing. Britain’s “colonial courts,” which preceded independence, were sometimes brutal. In response to Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s, for example, the wigged white judges sentenced more than 1,000 people to death for conspiring against colonial rule.

“The colonial system used law as [an] instrument of repression, and we’re still maintaining this tradition without questioning it,” said Arnold Tsunga, director of the Africa program at the International Commission of Jurists. “It’s a disgrace to the modern courts of Africa.”

Counsel
Olukoya Ogungbeje speaks outside a courtroom after a suspected kidnap kingpin was arraigned at the Lagos State High Court on Aug. 30. (Pius Utomi Ekpei /AFP/Getty Images)

In Kenya, former chief justice Willy Mutunga appealed to remove the wigs from the courtroom, arguing that they were a foreign imposition, not a Kenyan tradition. He swapped the traditional British red robes for “Kenyanized” green and yellow ones. He called the wigs “dreadful.”

But that outlook wasn’t shared by many Kenyan judges and lawyers, who saw the wigs and robes as their own uniforms, items that elevate a courtroom, despite — or because of — their colonial links.

“It was met with consternation from within the bench and the bar,” said Isaac Okero, president of the Law Society of Kenya.

Okero is a defender of the wig and the robe, and argues that they represent more than a British tradition, but something that distinguishes the country’s judges.

“I don’t feel at all that it has any negative connotation of colonialism. It has risen beyond that. It is a tradition of the Kenyan bar,” he said.

This year, Kenya’s new chief justice, David Maraga, has indicated that he wants to revert to the colonial traditions. During his swearing-in ceremony, he wore a long white wig and the British-style red robe. Many Kenyans were perplexed.

“It was his rather peculiar outfit that would send a resounding message to Kenyans,” said a broadcaster on KTN, one of the country’s most popular news channels. “It’s back to the old days.”

In Zimbabwe, still ruled by vehement anti-colonialist Mugabe, the wigs are perhaps most mystifying. Why would a man who stripped white farmers of their land, who railed against the name of Victoria Falls, allow an archaic judicial tradition to remain in place?

Some analysts say that the policy reveals something about Mugabe, the closet Anglophile, a fan of Dickens who once said cricket “civilizes people and creates good gentlemen.”

But Tsunga says that the rationale is more insidious.

“We are seeing post-independence African states trying to maintain these symbols of power and authority in the belief that it will help entrench themselves,” he said.

The curly horsehair wigs have been used in court since the 1600s, during the reign of Charles II, when they became a symbol of the British judicial system. Some historians say they were initially popularized by France’s King Louis XIV, who was trying to conceal his balding head.

By the 18th century, they were meant to distinguish judges and lawyers — and other members of the upper crust. Enter the word “bigwig” into the lexicon.

Other countries in the British Commonwealth, such as Australia and Canada, also inherited the wigs and robes but have moved toward removing them from courtrooms. An Australian chief justice last year demanded that barristers remove their wigs before addressing her.

“The abolition of wigs is all part of the progression towards a modern way,” said the chief justice, Marilyn Warren.

This year in Britain, the House of Commons lifted the requirement that clerks, who are experts in parliamentary law, wear wigs. John Bercow, the speaker, said the change would promote a “marginally less stuffy and forbidding image of this chamber.”

But aside from the wigs, African courts have adapted to a post-colonial context. New constitutions have been written. A new generation of judges has emerged. Even though some judiciaries have bent to political pressure, new legal systems are rooted in British common law but shaped by the traditions and cultures of their own countries.

In Kenya this month, the Supreme Court annulled the recent presidential election, a bold display of judicial independence that infuriated the sitting president.

In the Nairobi courtroom where the ruling was delivered, several lawyers wore their powdered wigs. Behind the bench, a row of men and women in red robes presided.

Maraga sat down before speaking, the sleeves of his black robe hanging over the bench.

“The greatness of a nation lies in its fidelity to its constitution,” he said, “and a strict adherence to the rule of law.”

Culled from The Washington Times

MAGAZINE: Women Rise To Seek More Recognition

By Sola Jacobs

It was a gathering of women from three major political parties, namely All Progressive Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party in Ekiti and Osun States respectively. The mission was to appraise how women had so far fared in their parties, either as political appointees or as elected official in government.

Launched in 2010, the coordinating platform is the Community Life Project (CLP), a non-governmental organisation concerned about women participation in governance as a whole via all-inclusive participation in governance.

Majority of the women assemblage in Ado Ekiti for the workshop had been interacting in the last seven years under the umbrella of CLP and it has fostered the bond of sisterhood and friendship which transcend party line to forming a common front. The objective was to demand equal participatory of women in government not only to seek and contest for political offices, but also to participate in good governance by demanding from political office holders how public funds are utilised for the betterment of all and sundry.

As the slogan of the NGO, “Reclaim Naija” is echoed the chorus “Na we get am” also reverberated in the air. The moderator set the tone for the women leaders in the three major parties that were represented at the workshop to give account of how far the women had been able to fare in the male-dominated arena of the nation’s politics and what can be done for the womenfolk to increase their participation in politics.

The coordinator of the CLP, Mrs. Ngozi Iwerre set the tone, that in 2015, it was on record that in Ekiti State, the number of women holding leadership positions with party structures went from 407 posts to 949 out of 8,409 positions.

She added that in the State of Osun, the number had risen geometrically from 533 posts to 2,173 out of 25,985 positions, saying, though women are gaining grounds but there is still the need to do more.

She said, “Nevertheless, in the nation at large, there is a decrease in women participation in politics, as statistics showed that there is 2 per cent decrease from eight per cent to six per cent in the number of women holding political offices nationwide, a trend that must be reversed, saying that though, there is increase in the number of women seeking political offices and this shows that women are not only enlightened but they are equally aware of their role in nation building.

Iwerre however noted that though, Nigerian women have not been given full opportunity due to many factors militating against their full participation in democratic governance which hinged more on cultural, religious and economic values and belief, but believed there is hope for the womenfolk, if they do not relent and if they believe that no matter the party affiliation, voting women into elective posts is the panacea to corruption and decadence that have engulfed all facets of the nation’s life.

Mrs. Sade Faparusi Akinromola, the Chairman of Gboyin Local Government in Ekiti State in her own remarks said that the increase in the number of women in elective posts cannot be associated with political parties’ ideologies in the nation but rather, the interest of the leadership or that of the leaders in those parties.

She adduced her success, as chairman of a local government to the womenfolk in the state, as the nation remains patriarchal in nature and politics is regarded as an undue exclusive right of the male, not minding that there are more women in the nation.

Honourable Romoke Edu Adewoye of the Labour Party in Osun State said that the economic recession had impacted women negatively, as most of them have no financial strength to vie for political posts.

The women leader of the All Progressive Congress in Ekiti state, Mrs. Omolara Bakare lamented that the male dominance at the National Assembly had stiffened Gender Equality bill and the 35 per cent affirmative action plan for women is a mirage.

Reports from the State of Osun, seem to be the most cheering of all, as the women leader of the APC in Osun, Alhaja Kudirat Fakokunde said that women participation in politics had increased tremendously since the assumption of the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the political landscape of the state.

She remarked that in 2015, Osun had 10 women appointed into various political offices in the state, but as at today, 720 women are appointed into various political posts at the ward level; while they occupied 29 posts at the state level; 808 posts in various Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas and 13 posts at the Federal level, as political appointees.

She continued that women had not fared better in political history of the state than now and it is the interest the leadership of the party had in the womenfolk and the commitment to compensate them for their contribution to the development of the state that triggered the development.

Alhaja Fakokunde said, though women still want more, but it depends on the premium the leadership of the party placed on womenfolk and their development.

For women to fare better in the nation’s politics, particularly when the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections are approaching in 2018 and the nation’s general election coming up in 2019, women at the workshop agreed to network with other female politicians across political divides to exchange ideas and strategy on how women can use their numerical and mental strength in all political parties across the nation to secure elective positions for women in any of the political parties.

The gathering also discussed about seeking financial assistance for women who are seeking elective positions. It was also advocated that more workshops and seminars for women at the grassroot level will increase their participation, not just in seeking political positions, but as well pull votes for women who are seeking political posts.

The group also advocated mentoring for young girls and women who want to serve through elective positions, while calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to intensify voters’ education as a means to educate women aspirants and others women in politics. The participants also tasked political parties to intensify education of women on party ideologies and the need for women to be involved in nation building through effective participation in political activities by seeking to hold elective posts.

At the end, the workshop revealed that aside Lagos state, Osun and Ekiti states had taken the lead in ensuring increase in women representation and participation in political activities and appointments into various offices, which is not premise on party ideologies but the intuition and the interest the leaders have in the women development for nation building. This, they all agreed should be sustained and encouraged by all and sundry.

Aregbesola Has Empowered Many, Restructured Commerce And Opened Osun To World Class Investments – Alagbada  

In this special edition of MEET YOUR COMMISSIONER, The Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, Cooperatives and Empowerment in the State of Osun, Hon Ismail Adekunle Alagbada bears his mind with OSUN DEFENDER Reporter, Nofisat Adeoye on the achievements of Governor Rauf Aregbesola in the last 7 years, the enabling environment for business to thrive and the need for all and sundry to support him.

Excerpt:

Q: Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s administration will on Tuesday clock 7 years in office, is there any reasons to celebrate particularly as it relates to your ministry? 

Well, thank you very much for this question, you will discover that, for those of you that are very conversant with the state of Osun, before 2010 when Ogbeni was sworn in as the Governor,  you will discover that the state is not the same compared to then,  we talk of commerce, of empowerment, we talk of industrialization, we talk of com1mercial activities, you talk of cooperatives development, it’s not the same in the state of Osun, even when you talk of infrastructure, forget it and you should know that there is no any state that will develop without infrastructure, that one is clear, even let’s start, ranging from Agriculture, education, commerce, infrastructure.

You know when Ogbeni was sworn in, he came with my Pact with the people of Osun which has about six integral action plan for the state. What are those things, banishing hunger, banishing poverty, banishing unemployment, functional education, maintaining peace among the communities and large food production.

When you look at this six integral action of the administration , you will discover that if you look round, when we talk of number one; maintaining peace, in Nigeria today, we have been rated as the most secured state. Do you want to talk about the huge amount spent on security, do you want to talk about the armoured personnel carriers, we don’t have all that in the state before, the Governor purchased them, that is security. When you talk of infrastructure, honestly, Mr Governor has performed very well, because there can’t be any development without infrastructure.

When you look at the roads across the state, is it Gbongan to Akoda that you want to talk about, do you want to talk about Olaiya junction, or about the Ilesa axis, if we don’t have roads, there will be no infrastructure and there will be no commercial activities in the state, that is why, even in terms of social amenities, the state Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola has done well.. Look at What he did at freedom park.

Then  before this government came to the state of Osun, freedom park was a terrible place, look at what is happening there now, you know before this administration, there was no social activities that you can talk of, everybody will just stay in their homes, no place of adventure, am telling you when you look at Nelson Mandela Freedom park today, right from 5 or 6pm, everybody will get there, they will just sit and relax and all this improves healthy life because some of them will always sit down inside their home, doing nothing before.

Look at that place now, honestly in terms of social amenities, this government has tried, before this Government came in, there was nothing like organized market in the state of Osun, every place was market but now we have Ayegbagu international market, all these will now boost our commercial activities, you know change is permanent, people will resist you but by the time they realize the benefit of what is coming, that is when people will know what this government is actually doing.

When we talk of commercial activities, look at what the Government is doing, look at what we did as far as the introduction of Osuwon Omoluabi is concerned, what are the things that brought that, we discovered that in our markets, they always fight, hard bargaining. We want to remove all those insinuations and look at the concept of that Osunwon Omoluabi, we call it value for money because it is what you purchase that you will actually pay for. Even when you travel abroad or go to supermarket, that is why people prefer to go to supermarket because they don’t want to be involved in hard bargaining, N10 is N10, this one is 1kg, it’s 1kg that you will pay for. But here, when you go to our markets, you will discover that they will use three different bowls for you, all these will not give you value for money and majority of our market women, they always involve in loss because when they purchase some of these goods, they use weight but they are going to sell with their hands, measuring it, how can you get it right? You don’t get it right, It’s either you sell at a loss or you get over profit or you sell exactly what you realize, qand gradually these people will move out of the market because when you sell a carton of fish today, you lose N500, another one tomorrow, instead of you gaining N1,000, you lost another one making N2500 in the course of using hand, by the time you continue this market for about six months, gradually, you are going to move away but if you use weight. If I purchase this item worth 20kg, N20,000, I want to gain N2,500, me that is doing the job because we call it opportunity cost, opportunity cost of working in another place, you must earn income, that opportunity cost that you have left is what you have to sell that fish, you have to reserve salary for that day, by the time you combine everything together, let’s say you want to realize N5, 000 making N25, 000, you now use that one for transportation and all that, you add,  by the time you divide it, it’s going to give you probably N1, 000 or so per kg. All these ones, definitely anybody that wants to buy 1kg is N1, 250, your gain is already embedded, your opportunity cost of staying there is already embedded, so before you start selling, your have already calculated what is going to come to your pocket so no matter how any person is closer to you, you cannot sell below that N1, 250 so by the time you continue like that for six months, you would have had enough money to turn over and if you have all these things in place, everybody would want to be a market woman but when you lose, first month, second month, this month, will you be happy to go back?

You will not be happy, people will now say we have been selling for the past six monthsqq, there is no money, there is no market, after all, when I go to the market, I don’t realize my full capital. They will now say you better stay at home, I think that it’s clear. Then when you look at this measurement, honestly, it’s a germane programme and it will improve the commercial activities in the state, people will now go to Osogbo or Osun, in their market, what they are using is Osunwon so when I get there, I will pay for the right quantity at the right price, there will be no cheating. So the market will be will organized.

So is the enforcement going on? 

The enforcement is on, you know when you want to make a change, you have to do it through persuasive approach despite the fact that we have what they call Federal Government…because it is under exclusive list. Let me tell you, those people that are selling palm kernel, cocoa, do you know that they sell in weight? You know they have been using scale before I was born. The white people that introduced scale or weighing machine know what they are doing, and the reason we are introducing this thing is because our farmers are not being encouraged to go back to the farm because they cannot place value on what they are producing, if you produce plantain, cassava and all other things that are being produced, you don’t know, you just get to the road and see a bunch of plantain, no measurement, N500, when they get to the market, they will increase it, can you quantify the efforts of the farmer before those things come out?

When you look at cassava, the same thing, all other items, the same, even tomatoes, why is it so? It is so because the white people are not interested, if they are interested, they know where they are buying it. So all these things will not allow the farmer to go back to the farm and that is why they do much of cash crops because that one has weight and a fixed price. So before the end of the year, they know what they are expecting so that is why you will see that it is after the market, they want to do marriage, build houses, they want to do the funeral of their father that died about 20 years ago, so you see people coming up after they must have realize a lot of money from the cash crop.

Q: Osunwon is one of the achievements, another major achievement is Kaadi Omoluabi. There are some reports that this card is only meant for pupils in primary schools, is this true and are the private schools involved? 

No, the private schools are not involved, if they are to be, they are not going to collect the cards, they will only biometric them and already public schools are distributing it now, the residents own, you know it involves certain logistics, they are going to distribute the residents own according to their local government, then it involves cash so we have to be very careful with the way we are going to do it, hopefully by next week, they should start distributing it because you know there must be sustainability, the way you do it must be very strategic and how much are they going to pay, N1, 000, the card is not ordinary card, once you put it under the Android, it is going to bring your details, it is a card you cannot fake, all your details are already embedded in the card.

So in the schools, you don’t wear our card, you don’t come to our schools because we want to know who are the original students and the fake students.

Has the process been completed for all students in public schools? 

Yes! Majority of them, for instance in Osogbo, nearly all the schools in Osogbo, except new ones that are coming in…….

Q: We are expecting the vice president next week…(Cuts In) 

Before you get to that question, there is another thing that this government had seriously made impact which has to do with empowerment, we have done a lot, this government through Osun Micro credit agency, we have disbursed about 3 billion naira to the beneficiaries in the state of Osun. As at yesterday, about 33,000 individuals benefited from the scheme. You know some of these people that your are seeing, if you say you want to banish poverty, you want to banish hunger and unemployment, it’s not when you engage them that you are going to provide job for them, you provide job indirectly.

Q: What do you mean by that? 

You know when you empower people, that person will engage two or three other people that will work for them, indirectly, you have created employment. The issue that we have in the state of Osun is that majority of our people do not have anywhere to go, they don’t have little capital to trade with and that is what this government has done by introducing Osun Micro Credit Agency, when you look at what we are doing, you know there is a programme called Quick Impact Programme, QUIP, we have done a lot there, we have spent almost one billion naira in partnership with the bank of industry.

All these ones are there, we have done a lot and this will actually help the so called pastoral farming, you know what I mean by that, you know so those people that just plant, it’s what they can eat that they will produce but now as a result of that assistance, they have improved seriously and this government has done a lot of rural development like constructing rural roads. More than 250 kilometers in the rural areas so that these farmers, when they produce, they will be able to bring their goods into the market, so that is what they call rural transportation.

Look at O’YES, at the end of the day, the federal government hijacked it, that is what they are calling N-Power. Look at the O’meal, I think they are about 3,000 plus that are working and they are happy, look at the impact of that programme, consider what is going to remove in terms of poverty from our people, definitely the O’meal woman will feed the family unlike before so poverty has been reduced from 3,000 plus families using O’meal alone.

Q: That takes us to the question about the visit of the Vice President, distributing cash to about 1,800 people, those benefiting from the MSME …. 

Well, if you talk about 1,800, I will disagree with you because what we are actually planning for, we are looking between 3,000 to 8000, you can see that I was calling some people to submit their forms, the micro finance banks are screening them, we upload it to Bank of Industry and they must be credited before the arrival of Mr Vice President. Mr Vice President is just coming to do the formality, because you know without MSME, there can’t be development. Rome was not built in a day so it’s those small and medium scale businesses that will become kings tomorrow so they say charity begins from home so we have to start from the scratch.

You know there are some people they don’t need so much for them to start, those people that are selling pap, what is their capital base, they don’t need up to N20, 000, how much are they selling a bag of maize, that is the capital base they need so before you finish selling, your would have realize more than the amount you started with but if you don’t have that cash in place, what is going to happen to you, it means your will go and buy at credit, when you buy at credit, the price you are going to pay is more than the price carrying cash and you are going to the same market to sell, you cannot say because they have collected your profit in 1advance, you are going to add to your goods, nobody will buy it you want to reduce your own size, nobody will buy. It’s either you allow your own to be little, your can sell quickly so that the man that you collected credit from will not come and embarrass you in the house.

So what Mr Vice President is coming to do is because those are the down trodden people and those are the people that constitute more than 60% of our population. So if they want to say that who are those people that we need to assist, I  will say they are the one to be assisted and that is what Mr vice President is coming to do. Then the N500, 000 that will be given to small scale enterprises, they will see them, that will say what they need, it’s like a working capital because whoever wants to benefit from that scheme must have something to showcase so still those ones are there.

So before this morning programme or before this MSME project, the State Government have already done a lot in this regard. I mentioned the issue of 3 billion naira. I mentioned 1 billion naira through quick impact intervention programme, cultural trips that was made to other states during the first regime so all these is what Mr vice President is coming for but he’s coming to officially flag off the program – Government enterprise and empowerment program in the state of Osun.

Then there is another thing that the VP is coming to do, he wants to commission a world class One-Stop shop so that those people that wants to do business, you don’t need to travel before your get the information, the office will be here in this ministry, we are going to have representative of NAFDAC, SON and other regulatory agencies of the Federal government,  instead of you going to Akure, they are here so it’s a world class shop so you can get all your information at once so it’s part of what Mr vice President is coming to commission.

You don’t joke with your small scale, there are some factories in Italy, Japan that are not up to this, if you know the turn over of the factory you will be shocked. These are some of the things that the State government is collaborating with the Federal government to bring to the state. You know when you are in a state like this, people will criticize you. Why are they criticizing? Because when they were there, they couldn’t do it; somebody is doing it, they will be like what has he done so they are given to criticisms, if you say that they will not criticize you, it’s a lie, because when they were there, their focus was not the same but the focus of Ogbeni is development.

Q: You said that cheques will be distributed on Tuesday, will there be a follow up afterwards to access how these funds are being used? 

That is why we are passing through the Microfinance banks,  the Microfinance banks are screening them, if they discover that you have been defaulting through the facilities you took in the past, you won’t be a beneficiary anymore. You can’t eat your cake and have it, it’s not possible.

Q: There is a misconception regarding government developing infrastructure and salaries being owed, what can you say in a nutshell, so that we can put things in the right perspective as regards those who are saying such? 

Thank you very much, that question is important, everything is politics, when you are doing good, people will criticize you, when you are not doing well, people will criticize you. Those people that have been deprived of cheating the state, that will definitely make something, it’s normal. Assuming you did not perform, some people will be jubilating, if you are performing, they will not be happy, you have become enemies and the only thing you will continue to pray for anytime your enemy sees you, they should appear sad, what do I mean, when you are performing, it means your enemy will not be happy with you, it means what he is praying for us is not happening but when he’s sad, he will said afterall we have criticized this man, we have done this, we have done this, he’s still performing.

To some enemies, they believe that we won’t be able to continue on this job but to the glory of God, we are doing well, is it in terms of education that you want to talk about, look at all those schools, look at all the roads, the next government will not touch those schools again, he will go and build other ones, yes good to start from where Aregbe stopped. The roads, do you want to reconstruct a good road? You have to go and start your own if you want to make an impact.

What do you want to do at Olaiya junction again, what do you want to do at Alekuwodu to Ita-Olokan? Fantastic road, what do you want to do along Oba Aderemi road, what do you want to do? And people will tell you no, it’s not your job. Those people that were in government that did not remember to do anything, how do your want them to feel, what do you want them to say, they won’t praise you, that they won’t criticize you is a lie and I want to tell you that no government can do this project again because the cost is now enormous, it’s now multiplied by three, who can do this type of secretariat again, nobody, this is one of the best secretariats in the country, this secretariat is not like this before, it was when Ogbeni came that he finished the infrastructure and the landscaping and there was a government here for about seven and half years, they did not remember to do anything, have you not seen the beauty of the secretariat now?

So it bounds to happen because when they were there, they did not do it. are they not going to criticize you? Ahh, what is he doing? But the criticism doesn’t get to their stomach. It’s because when they were there, they did not remember to do it, look at the airport, by the special grace of God, it will reach a reasonable level, when we get there, look at the impact of that airport, you get what am saying because it’s having about 3.5km runway, which means any Cargo plane 1can land so if I know am staying in Ekiti, Kwara I can take my cargo here, the triport is coming to the state which has been approved. When they come to do those kinds of transaction, are they not going to sleep here, are they not going to spend money, what do you call commercial, economic activities

UNIOSUN: The Triumph Of Stranded Medical Doctors

On Friday, June 30, 2017, the State of Osun was again before the world stage with the graduation of 50 Medical Students and the triumph of one of them as the overall best student of V.N Karazin Kharkiv National University, Kharkiv, Ukraine at its 2017 Convocation. KEHINDE AYANTUNJI in this piece reflects on the turbulent journey of the stranded medical doctors, and the outstanding success of the 2017 Kharkiv University champion, Dr Oyeleye Lateefah Abiola.

Kharkiv, Northern part of Ukraine is the second largest city of the Europe country. It is a major cultural, scientific, educational, transport and industrial centre of Ukraine, with over 60 scientific institutes, over 30 universities and higher institutions, 6 museums, 7 theatres and 80 libraries.  Kharkiv was the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, from December 1919 to January 1934, after which the capital relocated to Kiev.

Kharkiv is the hosting V.N Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine where 50 medical students of Osun State University recently graduated as medical doctors.   87 of them are currently on the state government scholarship but others are expected to graduate next year.

It is second oldest university in the Ukraine, second only to the University of Lviv, Ukraine. The university has produced at least three Nobel Prize laureates. They include Ilie Mechnikov (Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine); Simon Kuznet (1971 Nobel Prize in Economics); and Lev Landau (Physics). It was founded in November 1804, on the initiative of the prominent educator, V.N. Karazin and in accordance with the charter of Tsar Alexander I.

In 2012 when the state government decided to transferred the 98 students of the Osun State University who were stranded over non-availability of Teaching Hospital for Clinical training from 400 to 700 level to Ukraine, it was a very hard decision for Governor Rauf Aregbesola with stiff opposition to the decision move the students to the Southern Europe .

Among those who fervently opposed the transfer was the then National University Commission (NUC) Executive Secretary, Professor Julius Amioba Okojie, who without any hesitation downplayed the genuineness of the government and frantically ridiculed the Ukraine National University as substandard.

Although, the state government refused to spare him from deserved response, his utterances were considered political, rather than academic, inspite his position as the head of the esteemed universities regulatory body in Nigeria. The university Okojie described as substandard has never moved below 2,000 in  world ranking since its 200 years of its existence and has occupied the centre stage in Medical, Astrology, and Space Science Research in Europe. Ironically, none of the over 100 universities that Okojie was superintending and accrediting as at 2012 in Nigeria has moved closed to the first 5000 in the world ranking.  Okojie was challenged to provide any empirical evidence for his claim, instead, the former NUC boss navigated his criticism to cost effectiveness of sponsoring 100 students in foreign university when such amount could develop a teaching hospital in Nigeria.

The opposition political parties were not left out with all manner of assumptions and allegations against the governor. There was a time he was alleged to have held a share in the university and only wanted to rob the state through the foreign education trip to a country that formed part of the former Soviet Union.

Before the option of the Karazin University was adopted, the state government had in 2011 proposed to upgrade the State Hospital at Asubiaro, Osogbo, to a teaching hospital, but with the visibility study then, it would not cost less than N5 Billion to procure the necessary equipment and upgrade the facilities at the state hospital. As at then, government open up that it could not afford such, as it was a period that the state introduced what it termed “Financial Engineering” by restructuring the N18.6 billion United Bank of Africa (UBA) inherited loan and source for bond to execute some capital project without hindering smooth payment of workers salary which was N3.6 billion as at the time.  Another bottleneck that crippled the accreditation was personnel. One of the three major critical factors on which the question of adequacy or otherwise of the standard of training in any medical school depend is the availability of physical facilities in the form of buildings and equipment, both in terms of capital as well as recurrent costs. The other factor being availability of teachers, and the quantity of students selected.  Without clear evidence of the existence, and availability of the aforementioned facilities, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria scheduled with the responsibility of accrediting and monitoring medical colleges will not approve such college.  For instance, it took the pioneer medical students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, 10 years to graduate owning to accreditation challenges.

Obviously, as at that period, no matter what the state government may invest, it may not meet the expectations of the medical students who were already in 300 level, the medical students were stagnated for about two years as a result of non-availability of a teaching hospital for the university. All efforts made to get them admitted to tertiary institutions like Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife; University of Ibadan, UI; University of Lagos, UNILAG; Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, for their clinical courses failed. The reality was that the population of the affected student outnumbered the maximum quota approved for those universities clinical year.

Having tried locally, the government spread the tentacles outside Nigeria to the United State (US), United Kingdom (UK), Belarus and Cuba. The costs of tuition for the training in those countries were astronomical and subsequently considered the Karazin University of Ukraine to sponsor the 87 students on scholarship. It was the most reasonable option available despite the meagre resources of the state. Aregbesola was of the strong conviction that neglecting the students amounted to sheer irresponsibility and gross recklessness with the lives of the promising young medical doctors.

In 2013, Governor Aregbesola Constituted Transfer Committee headed by Dr Simon Afolayan to conclude all necessary arrangement with the university in Ukraine after the approval of N162 million second tranche for the scholarship.

Presenting the report of the committee, the Chairman, Dr.  Afolayan commended the governor for the huge amount spent to keep the hope of the students alive and reported that the students were enjoying their studies in a conducive atmosphere with best global facilities, saying, “Despite the fact that not all the students are of Osun State origin, Aregbesola’s government, in its magnanimity sponsored the students without any string attached. This means that the students did not sign any bond with the government.

“For this gesture, posterity will not forget Aregbesola’s courage and magnanimity to the medical students of UNIOSUN.”

One of the parents of the beneficiaries who was then the chairman of the Parents’ Representatives, Dr. Ademola Ayodele thanked the governor for a rare expression of compassion shown to their wards, saying, the news of the transfer of the students to Ukraine first came to them as a dream, but with the courage, commitment and determination of government, the goal was achieved at the end.

While receiving the report of the committee, the governor said that his government facilitated the transfer of the students because it believes that a responsible government must fulfill its part of a pact it entered with the people irrespective of which person or party in power signed the agreement so far that governance is continuum.

He said, “I feel fulfilled that the students, who would have had their dreams aborted, would now realise their ambition of becoming a full time medical Doctor. We have kept faith with these children, their parents and guidance towards realising their life time ambitions. In couple of years from now, we will be celebrating their graduation as trained Medical Doctors.

“This government is promising that it will assuage the challenges that the students may be facing during their stay in Ukraine”, the governor told the gathering.

The government in sustaining the scholarship in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 expended the sum of N60,647,2 00; N68,445,465, and N64,215,800 respectively. The Osun Government also in years 2015 and 2016 academic sessions spent N85,833,750 and N116,495,258.40, totaling N495,637,473.40. Besides the initial 87 students who then were in 300-500 levels, government also assisted a total of 29 other medical students who were in 100 and 200 levels to secure admission to the university and process their travelling documents, but were sponsored by their parents.

As whatever has a beginning will definitely has an end, the dream of the government came to reality with the graduation of the 50 students in July 1st, 2017. Beyond convocation ceremony, the whole Karazin University stood up for one of them who triumphed as the university overall best students, Oyeleye Latifah Abiola. Prof Mykola O. Azarenkov  announced Latifah as the overall best graduating student from both the Faculty of Medicine and the entire university. She came out with a percentage score of 95.6% in the KROK 2 Exams which was the final examination for graduating students.

At the graduation ceremony attended by the State Deputy Governor, Otunba Grace Laoye Tomori; UNIOSUN Vice Chancellor, Professor Labo Poopoola; the Chairman House of Assembly Committee on Education, Hon Oladoyin Bamisayemi and State Commissioner for Innovation Science and Technology, Eng. Oluremi Omowaiye , parents among other dignitaries, Latifah took Osun to the fore on world map and justified the huge resources invested by the state government.

When she was called at the ceremony, for the congregation at university auditorium to rise for the champion, she was so excited and felt accomplished for the strangled journey that ended successfully in Europe with giant feet. She said “We are here today proud that from the loss of hope that we were plunged into, we have been raised with new vigour. We have seen in Osun a responsible government which would not let its citizens down. Words are not enough to celebrate our victory. We have won”, she told the crowd.

Lateefah was born in Ibadan, Oyo state, where she attended primary and secondary schools respectively. She was admitted to UNIOSUN in 2008 to study medicine and studied for 3 years before she got stagnated alongside other colleagues for the inability of the university to secure accreditation. The father of the Ukraine Champion is into transport business and her mother engages in buy and selling.

During an interview with Latifah, her vision in life was not really such good grades, but to become a great doctor and teacher of doctors. The effort of the government, presided over by Aregbesola, no doubt projected the extraordinary ability of the champion, but becoming overall best student in such world class university was an arduous task.

The feelings of Latifah at that stage were a beginning of other great things in her life with gratitude to God. She felt so happy because she had never been celebrated like that in her life with so much love and appreciation in the air. She was really overwhelmed. She recounted her mood when she was stagnated as a result of the accreditation crisis in UNIOSUN, saying “I felt really sad. I saw my dreams almost crashing down in front of me. I thought all hope was lost, but God came into the picture through the Osun state Government and I am very grateful for that”.

On why she opted for medicine, Latifah partly differed with the popular clichés that people studied medicine because they want to save lives.  She said “No. in the beginning, teaching was my passion,  but I didn’t just want to be a teacher; I wanted to be a teacher with a difference, I wanted to teach how to save lives, so I decided to study medicine, that way I will get to be a doctor and a teacher at the same time, which I still want to do, but over the years, I have come to fall in love with medicine, I want that instant gratification of treating a patient and seeing them get better right in front of me, I mean that is the definition of joy for me. So, I studied medicine because I wanted to have two established lifesaving careers, being a doctor and being a teacher.”

In pursuing her dream in Ukraine, one of the very first challenge she encountered as a medical student was coping with the large syllabus in a very short time with other accumulated responsibilities within short time. To confront the challenges, she learnt time management and positioned herself not to lag behind. Another challenge faced according to Latifah was remembering previous thoughts and ideas conceived through reading especially for a very long time. She had to constantly remember thoughts, readings and retrieving information from memory even when she does not need them and had to study with a lot of online teachers. All these challenges really helped her.

Latifah also with the help of her father invested in good books which gave her edge over others, saying, “I have my dad to thank”.

In the next 10 years, it is her wish to be a wife and mother to become a consultant cardiologist, a great lecturer and a professor. Latifah is also dreaming of establishing a chain of well-equipped diagnostic centres in Nigeria where people can do all sorts of investigations to improve Nigeria health system.

UNIOSUN: The Triumph Of Stranded Medical Doctors

On Friday, June 30, 2017, the State of Osun was again before the world stage with the graduation of 50 Medical Students and the triumph of one of them as the overall best student of V.N Karazin Kharkiv National University, Kharkiv, Ukraine at its 2017 Convocation. KEHINDE AYANTUNJI in this piece reflects on the turbulent journey of the stranded medical doctors, and the outstanding success of the 2017 Kharkiv University champion, Dr Oyeleye Lateefah Abiola.

Kharkiv, Northern part of Ukraine is the second largest city of the Europe country. It is a major cultural, scientific, educational, transport and industrial centre of Ukraine, with over 60 scientific institutes, over 30 universities and higher institutions, 6 museums, 7 theatres and 80 libraries.  Kharkiv was the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, from December 1919 to January 1934, after which the capital relocated to Kiev.

Kharkiv is the hosting V.N Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine where 50 medical students of Osun State University recently graduated as medical doctors.   87 of them are currently on the state government scholarship but others are expected to graduate next year.

It is second oldest university in the Ukraine, second only to the University of Lviv, Ukraine. The university has produced at least three Nobel Prize laureates. They include Ilie Mechnikov (Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine); Simon Kuznet (1971 Nobel Prize in Economics); and Lev Landau (Physics). It was founded in November 1804, on the initiative of the prominent educator, V.N. Karazin and in accordance with the charter of Tsar Alexander I.

In 2012 when the state government decided to transferred the 98 students of the Osun State University who were stranded over non-availability of Teaching Hospital for Clinical training from 400 to 700 level to Ukraine, it was a very hard decision for Governor Rauf Aregbesola with stiff opposition to the decision move the students to the Southern Europe .

Among those who fervently opposed the transfer was the then National University Commission (NUC) Executive Secretary, Professor Julius Amioba Okojie, who without any hesitation downplayed the genuineness of the government and frantically ridiculed the Ukraine National University as substandard.

Although, the state government refused to spare him from deserved response, his utterances were considered political, rather than academic, inspite his position as the head of the esteemed universities regulatory body in Nigeria. The university Okojie described as substandard has never moved below 2,000 in  world ranking since its 200 years of its existence and has occupied the centre stage in Medical, Astrology, and Space Science Research in Europe. Ironically, none of the over 100 universities that Okojie was superintending and accrediting as at 2012 in Nigeria has moved closed to the first 5000 in the world ranking.  Okojie was challenged to provide any empirical evidence for his claim, instead, the former NUC boss navigated his criticism to cost effectiveness of sponsoring 100 students in foreign university when such amount could develop a teaching hospital in Nigeria.

The opposition political parties were not left out with all manner of assumptions and allegations against the governor. There was a time he was alleged to have held a share in the university and only wanted to rob the state through the foreign education trip to a country that formed part of the former Soviet Union.

Before the option of the Karazin University was adopted, the state government had in 2011 proposed to upgrade the State Hospital at Asubiaro, Osogbo, to a teaching hospital, but with the visibility study then, it would not cost less than N5 Billion to procure the necessary equipment and upgrade the facilities at the state hospital. As at then, government open up that it could not afford such, as it was a period that the state introduced what it termed “Financial Engineering” by restructuring the N18.6 billion United Bank of Africa (UBA) inherited loan and source for bond to execute some capital project without hindering smooth payment of workers salary which was N3.6 billion as at the time.  Another bottleneck that crippled the accreditation was personnel. One of the three major critical factors on which the question of adequacy or otherwise of the standard of training in any medical school depend is the availability of physical facilities in the form of buildings and equipment, both in terms of capital as well as recurrent costs. The other factor being availability of teachers, and the quantity of students selected.  Without clear evidence of the existence, and availability of the aforementioned facilities, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria scheduled with the responsibility of accrediting and monitoring medical colleges will not approve such college.  For instance, it took the pioneer medical students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, 10 years to graduate owning to accreditation challenges.

Obviously, as at that period, no matter what the state government may invest, it may not meet the expectations of the medical students who were already in 300 level, the medical students were stagnated for about two years as a result of non-availability of a teaching hospital for the university. All efforts made to get them admitted to tertiary institutions like Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife; University of Ibadan, UI; University of Lagos, UNILAG; Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, for their clinical courses failed. The reality was that the population of the affected student outnumbered the maximum quota approved for those universities clinical year.

Having tried locally, the government spread the tentacles outside Nigeria to the United State (US), United Kingdom (UK), Belarus and Cuba. The costs of tuition for the training in those countries were astronomical and subsequently considered the Karazin University of Ukraine to sponsor the 87 students on scholarship. It was the most reasonable option available despite the meagre resources of the state. Aregbesola was of the strong conviction that neglecting the students amounted to sheer irresponsibility and gross recklessness with the lives of the promising young medical doctors.

In 2013, Governor Aregbesola Constituted Transfer Committee headed by Dr Simon Afolayan to conclude all necessary arrangement with the university in Ukraine after the approval of N162 million second tranche for the scholarship.

Presenting the report of the committee, the Chairman, Dr.  Afolayan commended the governor for the huge amount spent to keep the hope of the students alive and reported that the students were enjoying their studies in a conducive atmosphere with best global facilities, saying, “Despite the fact that not all the students are of Osun State origin, Aregbesola’s government, in its magnanimity sponsored the students without any string attached. This means that the students did not sign any bond with the government.

“For this gesture, posterity will not forget Aregbesola’s courage and magnanimity to the medical students of UNIOSUN.”

One of the parents of the beneficiaries who was then the chairman of the Parents’ Representatives, Dr. Ademola Ayodele thanked the governor for a rare expression of compassion shown to their wards, saying, the news of the transfer of the students to Ukraine first came to them as a dream, but with the courage, commitment and determination of government, the goal was achieved at the end.

While receiving the report of the committee, the governor said that his government facilitated the transfer of the students because it believes that a responsible government must fulfill its part of a pact it entered with the people irrespective of which person or party in power signed the agreement so far that governance is continuum.

He said, “I feel fulfilled that the students, who would have had their dreams aborted, would now realise their ambition of becoming a full time medical Doctor. We have kept faith with these children, their parents and guidance towards realising their life time ambitions. In couple of years from now, we will be celebrating their graduation as trained Medical Doctors.

“This government is promising that it will assuage the challenges that the students may be facing during their stay in Ukraine”, the governor told the gathering.

The government in sustaining the scholarship in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 expended the sum of N60,647,2 00; N68,445,465, and N64,215,800 respectively. The Osun Government also in years 2015 and 2016 academic sessions spent N85,833,750 and N116,495,258.40, totaling N495,637,473.40. Besides the initial 87 students who then were in 300-500 levels, government also assisted a total of 29 other medical students who were in 100 and 200 levels to secure admission to the university and process their travelling documents, but were sponsored by their parents.

As whatever has a beginning will definitely has an end, the dream of the government came to reality with the graduation of the 50 students in July 1st, 2017. Beyond convocation ceremony, the whole Karazin University stood up for one of them who triumphed as the university overall best students, Oyeleye Latifah Abiola. Prof Mykola O. Azarenkov  announced Latifah as the overall best graduating student from both the Faculty of Medicine and the entire university. She came out with a percentage score of 95.6% in the KROK 2 Exams which was the final examination for graduating students.

At the graduation ceremony attended by the State Deputy Governor, Otunba Grace Laoye Tomori; UNIOSUN Vice Chancellor, Professor Labo Poopoola; the Chairman House of Assembly Committee on Education, Hon Oladoyin Bamisayemi and State Commissioner for Innovation Science and Technology, Eng. Oluremi Omowaiye , parents among other dignitaries, Latifah took Osun to the fore on world map and justified the huge resources invested by the state government.

When she was called at the ceremony, for the congregation at university auditorium to rise for the champion, she was so excited and felt accomplished for the strangled journey that ended successfully in Europe with giant feet. She said “We are here today proud that from the loss of hope that we were plunged into, we have been raised with new vigour. We have seen in Osun a responsible government which would not let its citizens down. Words are not enough to celebrate our victory. We have won”, she told the crowd.

Lateefah was born in Ibadan, Oyo state, where she attended primary and secondary schools respectively. She was admitted to UNIOSUN in 2008 to study medicine and studied for 3 years before she got stagnated alongside other colleagues for the inability of the university to secure accreditation. The father of the Ukraine Champion is into transport business and her mother engages in buy and selling.

During an interview with Latifah, her vision in life was not really such good grades, but to become a great doctor and teacher of doctors. The effort of the government, presided over by Aregbesola, no doubt projected the extraordinary ability of the champion, but becoming overall best student in such world class university was an arduous task.

The feelings of Latifah at that stage were a beginning of other great things in her life with gratitude to God. She felt so happy because she had never been celebrated like that in her life with so much love and appreciation in the air. She was really overwhelmed. She recounted her mood when she was stagnated as a result of the accreditation crisis in UNIOSUN, saying “I felt really sad. I saw my dreams almost crashing down in front of me. I thought all hope was lost, but God came into the picture through the Osun state Government and I am very grateful for that”.

On why she opted for medicine, Latifah partly differed with the popular clichés that people studied medicine because they want to save lives.  She said “No. in the beginning, teaching was my passion,  but I didn’t just want to be a teacher; I wanted to be a teacher with a difference, I wanted to teach how to save lives, so I decided to study medicine, that way I will get to be a doctor and a teacher at the same time, which I still want to do, but over the years, I have come to fall in love with medicine, I want that instant gratification of treating a patient and seeing them get better right in front of me, I mean that is the definition of joy for me. So, I studied medicine because I wanted to have two established lifesaving careers, being a doctor and being a teacher.”

In pursuing her dream in Ukraine, one of the very first challenge she encountered as a medical student was coping with the large syllabus in a very short time with other accumulated responsibilities within short time. To confront the challenges, she learnt time management and positioned herself not to lag behind. Another challenge faced according to Latifah was remembering previous thoughts and ideas conceived through reading especially for a very long time. She had to constantly remember thoughts, readings and retrieving information from memory even when she does not need them and had to study with a lot of online teachers. All these challenges really helped her.

Latifah also with the help of her father invested in good books which gave her edge over others, saying, “I have my dad to thank”.

In the next 10 years, it is her wish to be a wife and mother to become a consultant cardiologist, a great lecturer and a professor. Latifah is also dreaming of establishing a chain of well-equipped diagnostic centres in Nigeria where people can do all sorts of investigations to improve Nigeria health system.

UNIOSUN Best Ukrainian Graduate, Lateefah Narrates How Aregbesola Rescued Her Dream From Crashing

Fifty of the 85 students of Osun State University sent to Ukraine to complete their medical studies by Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration in 2013 have graduated from the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Kharkov, Ukraine and become medical doctors.

One of the new medical doctors, MISS OYELEYE LATEEFAH ABIOLA, was named the overall best graduating student from both the Faculty of Medicine and in a course offered by the entire students of the university. In this interview with TAIWO OKANLAWON, she narrates her journey, challenges and outstanding success.

Question: Can you briefly tell me about your background?

Answer: I am Miss Oyeleye Lateefah Abiola. I’m from a quite large family, a happy one though. I was born and raised in Ibadan, Oyo state, where I attended primary and secondary schools respectively. I had my primary educational at Fountain Private School, my junior secondary school at Muslim Grammar School and further went to Ad-din International College where I completed my secondary education.

I moved on to Osun State University Osogbo to study medicine; studied for 3 years before we got stagnated due to lack of accreditation and the Osun State Government came to our rescue.

My dad has a transporting business; quite strict, but has his children’s great interest at heart. He is a great influence in my life; he is a very responsible man. My mum is into buying and selling.  She is the liberal one. I guess that makes it a balanced equation.

Question: How do you feel as the best graduating student in medicine?

Answer: I feel really elated.  I feel accomplished; although, I know there is a lot of work ahead, I mean this is just the starting point. I am also happy because I finally proved to myself that what is worth doing at all is worth doing well and that hard work pays. So, generally, I feel happy and grateful.

Question: Have you always been at the top of your class?

Answer: I wouldn’t say specifically, but I have always been a good student. I had good grades throughout my study, but in our first professional exam, I didn’t have the best result, I had the second best result; so, I knew I had to work harder. Sincerely, it’s actually not about good grades only for me; it’s always been about being a great doctor.

The first professional exam was written about three years ago. It’s like an equivalent to the first MBBS exam written in Nigeria.

Question: Tell me about your challenges in school and how you overcame them?

Answer: The first challenge I had as a medical student was coping with the large syllabus in a very short time. We had a lot of things to do in such a small amount of time. So, I had to learn time management, pace myself so I wouldn’t lag behind.

Another major challenge I think every medical student faces [sic] which I also faced was how to remember the things I have read after a long time. This was a big one, I had to constantly try to remember stuff, I mean retrieving information from my memory even when I don’t need them. All these challenges really helped me and also I had to study with a lot of online teachers. There are so many on YouTube, the videos are free.  Another thing that helped me study better was investing in good books; I have my dad to thank. Those are some of the challenges I faced.

Question: What lessons has your journey taught you?

Answer: First lesson, hard work pays. Also, perseverance, asking questions and prayers are important ingredients to success. I learnt all these from my own story.

Question: Why did you study medicine, in the first place?

Answer: I wouldn’t go along with the cliché response of ‘I studied medicine because I want to save lives’, no. In the beginning, teaching was my passion,  but I didn’t just want to be a teacher; I wanted to be a teacher with a difference, I wanted to teach how to save lives, so I decided to study medicine, that way I get to be a doctor and a teacher at the same time, which I still want to do, but over the years I have come to fall in love with medicine, I want that instant gratification of treating a patient and seeing them get better right in front of you, I mean that is the definition of joy for me.

So, I studied medicine because I wanted to have two established lifesaving careers, being a doctor and being a teacher.

Question: What do you think about the fact that a lot of first class graduates are still job hunting?

Answer: You mean in Nigeria? It’s very heartbreaking, but I think it boils down to the fact that Nigeria is an overpopulated country and you need more than just a degree to be recognized as extraordinary.

Question: What else did you get yourself into apart from study?

Answer: When I was in my third/fourth year, I was an Oriflame consultant. Oriflame is a beauty company that deals in a lot of beauty products and after I wrote my final exams, I learnt make up.

I’m not exactly a very social person, but I attend social events when I chance to[sic].  I am very outspoken person; so, I do a lot of debates and public speaking and like I said earlier, I enjoy teaching. So,  I teach,  but not commercially but for free.

Question: How about entrepreneurship?

Answer: Yes, I would love to go into business, have a big pharmacy. I also want to have a chain of well-equipped diagnostic centers in Nigeria where people can do all sorts[sic]  of medical investigations because there are not so many of that in Nigeria and it’s really affecting our health system.

Question: Your study was put on hold at UNIOSUN due to non-accreditation for lack of a standard teaching hospital, how did you feel then?

Answer: I felt really sad. I saw my dreams almost crashing down in front of me. I thought all hope was lost, but God came into the picture through the Osun state Government and I am very grateful for that.

Question: Governor Aregbesola later came to your rescue by sending you to Ukraine to complete your studies, but government sponsored 87 out of 98 medical students?

Answer: Yes, the government paid all expenses, but some people decided not to come. But everyone who showed interest was sponsored.

Question: So, you are part of success stories of Aregbesola led regime?

Answer: Yes, I am very thankful to the government of the State of Osun.

Question: How did you feel on your convocation day?

Answer: I felt so happy. I have never been celebrated like that in my life. There was so much love and appreciation in the air. It was really overwhelming.

I also saw that day as the beginning of other great things in my life and above all I am very grateful to God.

Question: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Answer: 10 years would do it for me. In 10 years by God’s grace,  I would be a consultant cardiologist, a senior lecturer and great teacher to my students. I would be on my way to becoming a professor.  I would be a wife and a mother.