The UIMSA elections are approaching and campaigns have begun. This week, UIMSA Press correspondent, Covenant Odedele, spoke with Miss Jaachimma Nwagbara, one of the aspirants for the presidential position. Enjoy!
UP: The name, Jaachimma, has become some sort of anthem in UIMSA recently. Tell us, who is the woman behind the name?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: An anthem? You flatter me.
I am a sixth-year medical student at the University of Ibadan. I am a Christian from Abia state (mother from Oyo state). I have spent most of my life in the North (Kaduna State), and came here for my university education. I am currently an aspirant for the position of President of the University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association.
UP: You have literally tasted the North, South and East. So, why do you want to contest for that position?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Yes, “Wazobia” in human form. I have developed a deep love for our Association and its people over the years, which has culminated in a passion to serve. It all started from 100 level after I joined the Preliminary Press, and later became Editor-in-chief of the Preclinical Press.
Through my position in the Press, I got to meet and interact with brilliant individuals (mostly seniors), which gave me insight into the calibre of people that make up UIMSA. It was from that time I decided to give my time, resources and energy to the progress of the Association. Besides this passion and love, I believe I am qualified to serve the interests of all UIMSAites at this time, and to present us with opportunities that can catapult us to stages we ought to be on.
UP: What previous leadership experiences do you have?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Within UIMSA, I have served as Editor-in-chief, Preclinical Press, Deputy Class Rep for the 2018 class, Financial Secretary and General Secretary. While serving in those capacities, I have headed numerous committees like the Face of Preclinicals Organising Committee, Finance Committee, Projects Committee, Secretariat Committee, and Health Week Symposium Committee.
Outside UIMSA, I was the General Secretary, Polygeia Nigeria (a research body headquartered in the UK) in 2020/2021, and I was head of the Content Team for the Pendical Digital Summit (the first African Medical Summit) in 2020.
UP: Moving on, how would you describe the state of the Association?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Could I please get more context to this question? It is rather broad.
UP: Oh. I mean. With the knowledge you have, how well has UIMSA fared as an association? The problems, challenges, successes and all of that.
Jaachimma Nwagbara: I’ll just put it simply when it comes to the state of the association as you put it. I think we are in a very interesting, dynamic state as an association. We’ve had so many challenges in the past, but also made a lot of success, and broken a lot of records as an association, and as individuals. We’ve had UIMSAites do great things all over the world, and that is primarily because of the platforms we are given; because of the opportunities we are given in the College and in the Association. You know, UIMSAites are excellent people and we have shown ourselves outside and even in our immediate communities.
We are faced with a lot of challenges and I think one of the problems we are facing year in, year out is fundraising, and that is something I intend to work towards tackling. We’ve also faced some inter-class rivalries. I think it’s very important to highlight the fact that we are one body, and obviously, conflict must arise when you have such diverse intelligent individuals and critical thinkers. It’s very common to see conflict, and that’s one of the challenges we have faced. I also think that in our immediate surroundings and community, there are some things that may affect us physically, mentally and affect our wellbeing. And yunno, I think that’s one of the things we are also facing. But nevertheless, I think a lot can be done concerning that.
So, concerning our successes, I intend to work hard to make sure that we keep doing that. You know, we have UIMSAites on different platforms, with different skills doing great things within and outside the community. Concerning the problems that we are facing and challenges, like the fundraising capacity, I think it’s very pertinent to work hard to increase our fundraising capacity, and that could be through different means. Obviously, all these would be elaborated upon at the manifesto, and also to address problems of clashes within classes. I think prompt and immediate communication and mediation should be done. We should not give room for anything to get worse. I think we should be fast about it. And when I say “we”, I mean if elected, myself and my team would work on all of that. So, yes, I think we are in a very dynamic state that is about to become so much better, and I think that is basically the basis of my campaign and even my administration if elected. I think there’s a lot that can be done in our association to put us on the world map that we ought to be on at this point.
UP: Your campaign is tagged ‘Voice’, I guess that’s your major agenda. Am I right?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Yes, the full phrase is “Your Voice, My Voice”. This summarises the crux of my campaign and administration, if elected. I intend to allow for effective representation of UIMSAites at different levels. I believe the voices and opinions of UIMSAites at various levels matter and this is what I intend to carry with me, if elected.
UP: This and the previous response have given a peek into what your plans are. Talking about your opponent, have you heard any of her plans?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Oh, that would not be possible as that is what the Manifesto Night is designed for.
UP: Well, that’s often true. But on the other hand, we know how volatile things fly in times like these. I guess the Press Night even comes before the Manifesto Night. And also, what makes you think her plans aren’t better than yours?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: I understand, but I haven’t been privy to her plans. I can only speak of mine at this point. Besides working to cater to the needs of the Association in general, my plans are designed to cater to the different needs UIMSAites have (academics, welfare and needs outside medical school)
To speak on what I believe would be the difference in plans over the years while serving in UIMSA, I have positioned myself to not only serve UIMSAites but to represent UIMSAites Nationally and Globally. I have attended about 8 NiMSA and FAMSA Conferences, Conventions, and Caucus Meetings to represent the interests of UIMSAites on a global stage, and my opponent has not done these.
I believe these experiences have given me a holistic view on how to ensure UIMSAites become well-rounded individuals in different spheres, and have reflected in my plans.
UP: Hmmmm, interesting. I was going to raise this thinking it was a rumour, as I heard someone raise this same argument during your opponent’s Twitter Space conversation on Friday. It was said that you claimed your opponent hasn’t served in other capacities outside UIMSA, and as a result, might not be well-positioned because she’s bereft of these unique experiences.
While I agree that these leadership experiences garnered outside UIMSA are prized ones, I do not even want to talk about her response in defense of your argument. However, do you think these experiences matter in the service of UIMSAites, considering the fact that this is a different ball game entirely?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: I understand, but I was quite specific when listing the concerned Associations.
This is because these Associations are affiliated with UIMSA constitutionally and make pertinent decisions on our behalf which could affect us in diverse ways as an Association.
UP: Alright. Can you rate the Olorunfemi-led administration? I mean, over 10.
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Considering that the administration carried out all activities in the year plan, but was plagued with issues like inter-class clashes and funding limitations, I’ll give it a 7.5/10.
UP: Much recently, I shared on my status update that the UIMSA presidential race has been hinged on track records. I mean, you could easily know who would declare, and also, win. Oftentimes, it’s just always one candidate, and he goes unopposed. But you would agree that this year’s is different.
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Yes.
UP: And this is because yourself and the other candidate both accrue the needed track records (and experience), placing you both in somewhat equal ‘chances’. Now, what is your comparative advantage that makes you fit as the next 001, and why UIMSAites should vote for you?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Thank you for this question. As earlier mentioned, I have shown up at times that decisions have to be made on behalf of over 1,000 UIMSAites and my opponent has not. I think this is a major competitive advantage.
I have made the necessary relationships from the aforementioned interactions that allow me ensure that UIMSAites are given the much-needed opportunities beyond UIMSA. In the last tenure, I showed how much the welfare of UIMSAites matter to me by securing a 2 million naira grant from IMSG-UK and 250,000 naira for Quiz funding.
Summarily, the needs of UIMSAites matter to me here and outside here. I have shown this over time and will continue to do so.
UP: Recently, there was a bill passed by the Senate that the 2K24 class would also be voting in the forthcoming elections. So, we have 7 classes voting in these elections. What is your take on that?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Considering I was once in their shoes in 100 level; wondering why I couldn’t vote in the elections after being a member of the Association for a while, I am quite elated for them and I hope they exercise their rights in the best possible way.
UP: Do you mean that the elections also took place after you resumed as a 100L student, and you couldn’t vote? I mean, just this same scenario?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Yes, exactly.
UP: Oh. And yes, the elections are only a few days away — April 30 — unless April decides to fool us on this last day. What can make you step down?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Hmmm. This is an interesting one.
If I have been asked this question a few years ago, I would have said something tragic like losing a parent, but now that that has already happened, I can’t think of anything (that has to do with me) that would make that happen. It would have to be associated with an external factor like the College or Nigeria or something of the sort.
UP: So sorry about that. Any final words for UIMSAites?
Jaachimma Nwagbara: It would be an absolute pleasure to serve you as your President. I hope you give me this opportunity when the time comes. My love for our Association and you all is ever-growing, and I hope we can make history together.
UP: Thank you for your time, Jaachimma.
Jaachimma Nwagbara: Thank you so much for this opportunity. I think the Press has been doing a fantastic job thus far. Well done.
UP: You’re welcome.