As part of the line-up of activities for the just concluded Alexander Brown Hall Week, the Prof. O. O. Akinkugbe Memorial Symposium held on Wednesday, 9th March, 2022, at the Paul Hendrickse Lecture Theatre. The programme was themed Challenges; The Paraphernalia for Opportunities. The symposium had much to commend it, as it not only enlightened but also gave a big thrill to virtually everyone present— Brownites from various faculties in CoMUI and SON students.

The meeting was slated for 10am but didn’t start until about an hour and a half later; it had in attendance Prof Mayowa Owolabi, a world renowned neurologist at UCH and Mr Ibrahim Hammed who were both guest speakers at the event. HRM Ọba (Prof.) Akinola A. Owosekun, the Asotun of Isotun Land, was the Royal Father of the day while the Honoree of the day was Prof. Folashade Akinkugbe.

Other high profile personalities present at the event were: The Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan and the Chairman of the Occasion, Prof Kayode Adebowale who was represented by Prof Biobele J. Brown, a paediatrician at UCH; the Deputy Governor of Oyo State and Special Guest of Honour, Engr Rauf Olaniyan who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the Oyo State Deputy Governor on Political matters; the Chief Medical Director, UCH, Professor Jesse Otegbayo who was represented by Professor Mayowa Owolabi, among others.

The guest speakers were given time to speak on their respective topics. Mr Ibrahim Hammed spoke on The future of Technology in Medicine while Prof. Mayowa Owolabi spoke on Developing Local and Global Competence. A time of Question and Answer with the two speakers then followed as Miss Jummai Sadiku, a final year Medical Student, moderated the session. After the Q and A session, there was a giveaway session where students were asked questions based on the talks given by the guest speakers and winners were rewarded afterwards.

Shortly after that, the representative of the Oyo State Deputy Governor gave his speech. He urged the organisers of the programme to always keep to time as the programme did not begin at the planned time. He said that he had been at the venue since 9:55 am (five minutes before the slated time) but the programme didn’t commence until around 11:25 am. However, he admitted that he had no regrets overshooting his stay at the program as he reckoned it to have been beneficial. Into the bargain, he challenged the CoMUI Provost and the CMD, UCH (through their representatives) to take actions concerning a particular centre he made reference to in his speech. He said that this centre had been set in place for the training of medical students a long time ago but that it had been neglected. “That centre was put in place during the tenure of Late Prof. Afolabi Oyeleke Agboola as the Chairman of the Governing Board of UCH. 40 years ago, a hostel was built in that centre. The thinking was that it would serve as a training ground for medical students. 40 years down the line, nothing has been done. I know you will take this challenge. Deliver the message to the CMD, as well as the Provost, College of Medicine. In the nearest future, we want to see you here in UCH doing something about that centre,” he said.

Next was Prof. B. J. Brown’s address to the audience. After he had tendered apologies on behalf of the students for the late commencement of the meeting, he went on to buttress the points made earlier by the panelists— not to go abroad but to stay back in their country where they would be relevant. “I am not a prophet but I know that even the nurses and the lab scientists here have mates and seniors who have left the country and you also are already making plans to leave Nigeria. But I will tell you to stay where you are needed. I have senior colleagues who were working here in Nigeria and even had collaborators from America, UK and other parts of the world. But they suddenly relocated abroad and their relevance disappeared. The Americans and the British want an African they can collaborate with on tropical diseases. So the moment you move over there, you are not relevant anymore. You will be forgotten totally. So, if you are going there, you are on your own; except you are going there to make money.

“I have some research grants and I have some doctors working with me – consultants. They have been leaving one by one. Yesterday, one of them came to me grant coordinator –  and told me he would be leaving in May. The money is there; it’s in dollars. He would be paid in dollars. But he said he just had to leave. And I don’t know where I will find somebody else to assist me. So, think of Nigeria and think of yourselves. God will grant you wisdom,” he said.

Close to the end of the programme, awards of recognition were presented to the special guests and the vote of thanks was given by the Chairman of the Planning Committee for the programme, PT Oladimeji Olawale. The closing prayer was taken and at 2:13pm, the programme was brought to a close.

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