ABH DECIDES 2022: “It is not just about staying in the hall” – Miss Ibukun Onietan, Health and Sanitation Minister Aspirant
The lifting of the electoral ban has been met with a lot of activity. It would appear that Brownites have woken up from their political slumber. I guess we were right to blame the relative political apathy of the previous year on the pandemic. Now that the masks are off (well, mostly), we can see ourselves better and as recent events have shown, finally aim for our political aspirations. The hall has since been skillfully decorated with posters and banners, class pages have been bombarded with visitors, room owners have repeatedly entertained unexpected guests and several new friends have been made. Amidst the flurry of political tension and activity, the ABH Press has decided to introduce Brownites to some of the aspirants promising to take the hall to yet unattained heights. Hence, we met with one of the aspirants vying for the position of the Health and Sanitation Minister, Miss Ibukun Onietan, and this is what she had to say:
Good afternoon. I am Rachel and I’m a member of the ABH Press. Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Ibukun Onietan. I am a 600L Medical student (MBBS 2K18). I am an aspirant for the post of Health and Sanitation Minister of the Alexander Brown Hall. I am the current President of the Rotaract Club, UCH and a member of the Red Cross Society as well as a few other things. Interestingly, I am the Chairperson of the Electoral Committee for UIMSA (laughs).
I guess you get to experience being on both sides of the divide. You mentioned that you are in a number of organizations. Why did you decide to run for Health and Sanitation Minister in particular?
First, I have always had the health and sanitation of this hall in my mind. A number of people I have had conversations with know that it is something that I consider very important. Several times during the last tenure, I had the opportunity to start some movements toward the betterment of the Health and Sanitation of the hall. A number of them worked out while others did not due to some bureaucracies. However, I told myself that if I would like to get those plans to work out, some of which I had long before I thought of running for the office of the Health and Sanitation Minister, I would have to be at the helm of things. I believe my plans would make the lives of Brownites better. An example of such was the tank washing exercise. While I would not say I strong-armed, I do know that at a point when the former Health and Sanitation Minister was being a bit reluctant, I had to keep pushing for it and the Red Cross Commandant can attest to that. I brought more than 40 people into the hall to help with the tank washing.
So you have always been interested in the sanitation of the hall –
Sanitation, hygiene and health in general. Speaking of health, I messaged the leaders of various clubs in the hall with the aim of getting an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). This was after the unfortunate demise of one of my classmates, may his soul rest in peace. I felt it could happen to anybody. I was in anaesthesia posting at the time and a Doctor there made us realize the importance of an AED, which is basically a mini-defibrillator. It’s quite expensive but the way I went about it was to have the various clubs raise about 20,000-25,000 Naira. An AED would cost about 300,000 Naira but if every club could contribute that amount, even if they had to meet sponsors for it, it would be for a good cause. We may not see the need now but when such things happen, the distance between the hall and the Emergency Room is quite far. We all know about the golden time rule. When someone collapses, most people just think of rushing the person somewhere and tend to forget that within 10 minutes, the brain starts to die. I wanted us to get an AED so it would be on ground in case of such an incident. They would be able to shock the heart before rushing the person to the Emergency Room. This was something I thought of before I even decided to run for Health and Sanitation Minister.
The idea of an AED is interesting but considering the cost, do you think it is an imminent need for the hall? There is also the question of where it would be kept as if it is not easily accessible when it is needed, we are better off rushing the person to the Emergency Room if such happens.
Back then, the death of my classmate was still very fresh. The thing about such incidents is that you do not expect them to happen. I must say, that particular incident came as a very rude shock to all of us. It is not something you plan for or envisage would happen. You never know the next person who would need an AED.
You asked about where it would be kept. The first place that came to mind was the Porter’s Lodge. Everyone would be aware that it is being kept there and even if someone is being rushed out from within the hall, someone else could be bringing the AED from the Porter’s Lodge and they would meet halfway. It may not look like a pressing need now, but it just might be your best friend or closest friend that would need it.
Have you served Brownites in any capacity before?
I served on the Maintenance Committee in the last tenure. I was also on the Tank Washing Committee as I mentioned previously.
While serving in these committees, did you have any major challenges?
The major challenge of the Maintenance Committee in particular was funding. The committee was under the office of the Hall Chairperson. Inadequate funding was the major challenge we encountered.
If you do get elected as the Health and Sanitation Minister, how do you intend to revive that aspect of the hall, especially considering the fact that there are several issues with the hall’s sanitation?
As this is going to be a Press Release, I cannot go into too much detail about my plans. At the Manifesto Night, more will be revealed. I am not unaware of the challenges Brownites are facing with regards to health and sanitation, even the seemingly minor ones. For example, there are wooden planks around the pool area and one of them has a rusted nail jutting out of it. I have noticed it repeatedly especially when we sit there for tutorials. That has been on my mind but I felt like I would have to discuss with the Porters first about moving those things somewhere else. I am not sure that can be done by me as an ordinary Brownite without raising some brows. We are all medically inclined and know that if someone steps on that nail, they are at risk of getting Tetanus toxoid and we all know how much goes into the treatment and what the prognosis looks like should they be infected. That is one of the minor things that people may think go unseen but I am actually seeing.
What advantage do you think you have over your opponent?
I have strategically positioned myself in quite a number of leadership positions that give me an edge over my opponent. I have served on committees and other avenues that have taught me to be a better leader, a better person and a better peoples person. I believe that you cannot do anything without a team. I have been able to relate well with people. People trust me more because they have seen me work effectively. As the Rotaract President in this tenure that would soon come to an end, I have had to explore various networks and develop various connections that I believe would be very beneficial to the hall if I am given a chance to explore them. Some of the things I did or made attempts to do for the hall were as a result of these connections. I mentioned earlier that I brought in 40 people to help with the tank washing exercise. I did not pick random people on the street. They came because they wanted to do it for me by virtue of the person that I am. I believe that I am passionate about the health and sanitation of Brownites and would prove that if I get elected.
There have been concerns about how you may not understand the peculiarities of the problems that plagued the last administration with regard to health and sanitation since you did not live in the hall at the time. Do you think you can bridge that gap if you are elected?
Yes, why not? While such concerns are valid, there are some arguments I have to counter those concerns. The first is that prior to now, I have stayed in ABH and I am currently living in ABH even though I did not stay for the past year. I stayed in ABH during the pandemic year when my class wrote our MBBS part II exams. However, even if I did not stay here, there are some things that are very obvious. There are others that are not as obvious but I see them. I also talk to people. If I am elected as the Health and Sanitation Minister, I am going to work closely with some of the members of the last Health Committee to intimate myself with some of the challenges they may have faced, whether it had to do with personnel or funding. I would want them to work with me to see how we can navigate such problems. I believe time makes everyone grow and learn from past mistakes. They may have suggestions on how to make things better. Lastly, I would say that sometimes, it is not just about staying in the hall. The fact that someone stayed in the hall does not necessarily mean that they can do the job or are aware of everything going on in the hall. A guy may not be aware of some problems females are facing in the hall. He may not know for instance, that the last time the gutters behind A Block were cleaned out and unclogged, they were not closed back and are now clogged up again. While I may not stay fully in the hall, I am essentially a Brownite and I come to the hall more often than I even stayed at my place. Also, I now stay in the hall. Even prior to my decision to run for Health and Sanitation Minister, I had decided and told people that I was going to stay in the hall this year as it is my final year.
Are there any challenges you anticipate if you are elected as the Health and Sanitation Minister? If yes, how do you intend to overcome them?
Yes, there are some challenges but I do not think they cannot be overcome. I think one of the basic ways to overcome any challenge is through people. I think I can make use of connections and friendships, as well as build on existing networks. One of the major challenges is a paucity of funds. There are a number of ways to tackle this problem but I would cite one for now. I am well invested in Rotary Clubs and Rotarians are known for their interest in humanitarian services. It just depends on how I portray some of our challenges here to them. If they see it as a worthy cause, they would contribute towards making things better.
We are rounding off now. What is one thing you think the previous administration could have done better in terms of health and sanitation?
The first thing and perhaps, the most obvious to even non-Brownites would be the dumpsite. Even if there was no permanent measure, there are temporary measures, which I am including in my plans, that could have been put in place. That is not all I am including in my plans; I am going for a complete overhaul of the whole structure. However, some temporary measures could have been put in place to make that place less of an eyesore. Another one would be the sewage problem, especially the recent overflow problem of E block and F block. That was something I think should have been attended to as quickly as possible. The delay was something that impeded the activities of a lot of Brownites and had the potential to affect health. Some people had to leave their rooms, which must have been a huge discomfort to them.
We have come to the final question. Tell us something unique about yourself.
I like to sew. I love sewing. I would rather sew than watch a movie for instance. When I was in primary school, I had a friend whose aunt had a faulty sewing machine. We would just sit there and keep pressing the pedal, pretending to sew. You may find it weird but believe me, it was the sound of the machine that got me into sewing. I do love sewing.
That is quite interesting to know. Do you have any closing remarks?
I would like to say that one thing we are advocating for in this country is a time where people vote not based on sentiments, tribalism or religion, but vote based on capability; what the person can do and what they have to offer. I’d like to say that we should leave sentiments aside and if there are any questions or comments, I would be glad to listen to them.
Thank you very much for your time, Miss Onietan.