Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday, insisted that only committed, dedicated and patriotic Nigerians are his friends.
Obasanjo made this declaration while speaking as the chairman at an event tagged “85-60-50: Hanging of Stethoscope”, organised in honour of Emeritus Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe to mark his 85th birthday, 60 years in medical practice and 50 years as Professor of Medicine at the University of Ibadan (UI), Ibadan.
The program which was held at the International Conference Centre (UI) was to signify the official retirement of the emeritus professor from public service.
The former President stressed that the above-mentioned qualities were those qualities of his friends, adding that only the likes of Emeritus Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe displayed such greater commitment, dedication and patriotism to making a positive impact on the people.
Obasanjo while describing Akinkugbe as “A rare breed and one of God’s special gifts to Nigeria and an epitome of the finest tradition of African nobility”, emphasized that those he calls his friend are “committed Nigerians, dedicated human beings who can be trusted at every time”.
He added that, “We thank God for your illustrious life, exemplary leadership, ardent patriotism and life-long devotion to the cause of upholding the highest standards of conduct in your profession and within our society. You are one of God’s special gifts to our nation, a rare breed who epitomises the finest tradition of African nobility”.
Obasanjo said, “We cannot stop appreciating God for giving to the world an intellectual giant, a world-renowned clinician of whom the nation is justifiably proud. We, your friends are proud of you, your achievements and contributions to the medical profession and to our nation.”
“We salute your numerous contributions to the development of the country in medical practice, governance, business, education, community development and traditional institutions. As it has turned out, your medical calling has enabled you to save many lives. In your life and work, you have combined your African heritage with international best practices to enrich mankind as a whole”.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole who was represented by Professor Abiodun Ilesanmi said the Emeritus Professor Akinkugbe was a man in his own class, saying, “Akinkugbe stands out clearly as a teacher, clinician, clinical administrator, father, husband and mentor.
“ In my tribute to him at 80, I likened him to the proverbial elephant touched by six blind men and each gave a different but correct account of what he felt. The elephant is still marching on but has decided to hang the stethoscope. I have never heard of this before and would not know if anyone has ever done so.He could as well be the first to do so. That is OOA for you. Always creating ripples and new things. He is one of Nigeria’s most respected and distinguished academics and physicians”.
Guest Lecturer, Sir Eldryd Parry of the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygienes and Tropical Medicine, while speaking on the topic entitled, “Africa’s Health: Matters Arising”, alerted that more than two-thirds of Nigerians risk spending their lifetime below the poverty line.
He said, “The poor have not experienced significant growth in their average living standards despite some moderate rise in GDP per capita over the past two decades. Thus, I found growing evidence suggesting a rising deep level of deprivation in Nigeria, rendering more than two-thirds of the poor at risk of spending their lifetimes below the poverty line.
“The clear implication is that growth has not been sufficient nor has it demonstrated the potential to help the poor break free from poverty”, saying, “this calls for policies that not only bring about a rise in GDP but also boost the income growth of the poor. Like Brazil, Nigeria can achieve significant poverty reduction without absolute reliance on economic growth by reducing its two-digit inflation rate and substantially expanding its social security and social assistance transfers. Finally, improvements in life expectancy as a health outcome can also improve the chances of the poor of escaping poverty: longer lifespans could shrink the gap between life.”
Akinkugbe while speaking declared that one of the reasons he decided to hang his stethoscope is, “that I don’t want to be a patient in my own clinic.”
Eminent personalities at the event included the Ooni of Ife; Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi who was represented by Asoya of Isoya Ile-Ife, Oba Adedini Muraina and Elejesi of Ife kingdom, Oba Babatunde Tokunbo, the Osemawe of Ondo, Dr Victor Kiladejo, Lady Helen Parry, former vice-chancellors, University of Ibadan Professor Ayodele Falase and Professor Kayode Oyediran, former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko and Chairman, African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo Dosunmu.
Others are: Oba Otudeko, Professor Bolanle Awe, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), Chief Ayo Banjo, Prince Bayo Oyero, Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi, Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi, Olori Jumoke Agbede, Professor Theophilus Ogunlesi, Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Professor Temitope Alonge, Mr Folu Olamiti and Professor Femi Mimiko.