WORDS WITH BAM BAM
Sunday, the 15th of October dawned brightly, the morning filled with such warm colours. As the midday heat tapered into a welcoming evening ambiance, the UIMSA Press, represented by Jaachimma Nwagbara and Amaji Obinna of the Preclinical school had a sit-down with the immediate past president of the University of Ibadan Medical Students Association (UIMSA).
Please, could you introduce yourself?
I’m Mr. Adedotun Bamiduro. I served as the UIMSA President in the last tenure. I hail from Ibadan, Oyo state. In a family of four children, I grew up in a typical Yoruba Christian home. I recently finished my final exams in Ibadan medical school, so I’m kind of joyous. I would say that I’m a very interesting person to be with. I’m politically conscious of my environment; I like to impact on people around me and do things to help. That’s what I would say to describe myself, thank you.
Thank you, Sir. Can you kindly tell us when it all started, that is how you got here?
UIMSA, I always tell people, is a family. It was an opportunity to actually build myself. It all started in 100 level when a group of medical students, senior colleagues, came around to CBN and just appointed me then as the class representative. Luckily, even though there were other people there, I was chosen—I don’t know why. From then on, I had in mind to contribute my quota to take this association out there. I served as a senator of our class for three years. I did other things in UI too, but I was focused more on UIMSA. So when the opportunity came in my 500 level, I ran for General Secretary of the association, and served as such for one year, trying to get a grasp of what the association entailed. I always tell people that UIMSA is a very structured organization and you won’t just jump in and become President: there are certain things you must have done for you to be eligible to even run in the first place. Among such is that you must have served in the Senate for at least two years; you must have served in several committees, which I did during my years as senator and General Secretary. I gathered so much information and finally had the opportunity to run unopposed, as against the norm. So I would say I built myself from Day One and when the opportunity came, I took it.
How were you able to overcome the challenges you met, including successfully combining your duties as President with your studies?
First of all, the grace was there. I’m a realist, so coming on board, I already understood that there were going to be challenges, and legacies to meet up to. I had the opportunity to head the secretariat, so I had access to a lot of documents. I saw how far UIMSA had come since 1960, and I knew that it wasn’t a joke. So coming on board, I prepared for this. However, the number one challenge everybody faces – fortunately, I would say although I wasn’t able to surmount that, I did my whole best – is the apathy of UIMSAites, the feeling like the association just belongs to a few persons. In 100 level, I got to meet the President because I was class rep, and I met him three or four other times; my other classmates just knew that there was a President. While I served as General Secretary, Dr. Oso was the President. He was a very jovial and friendly person and he gave us the mindset that we had to bridge that barrier between the clinical arm, the pre-clinical arm and the preliminary arm. So when I came on we started the whole process of having to get around, going to the prelim arm and the pre-clinical school and carry people along on the happenings in the association. So a major challenge was that. Another challenge was that people expected so much and there was little or no finance. I must say at this point that Ii thank God for family because if not for family and friends, I probably would have run into a lot of debt. If everybody in UIMSA pays dues, we should get roughly N1.8 million and as President, you have to source for about N2.2 million. However, when I came on board, we met only N1 million, meaning that way over a third of persons did not pay dues; but we still had to run. I met a couple of past Presidents and they were helpful. Dr. Obembe for instance. I don’t know what we’ll have to give him as UIMSA. He was the first President of the association and he has always been helpful. He connected us with a few persons, and then family also rallied round and were able to put money down; so doing things became quite easy. With my academics, I would say that if you try to fit your life into medicine, you will never get the balance. But if you fit medicine into your life, it’s just going to be one of those things you’re doing. So I had challenges with my result but I knew I was capable of medicine, I just maybe had to change my strategy which I did, by God’s grace. When I was serving as General Secretary, I had a lot of work. That was the first time I was overwhelmed with work; but by the time I had served for six months, I just restructured everything and things started coming up and my results became better and okay. So anybody who is interested in serving UIMSA, which I think everybody should be, must be able to get their academic standing first: we must know where we stand academically and how we can adjust when we have to serve. I thank God for UIMSA anyways, because it opened a lot of opportunities for me. The last challenge I would say is that people usually fail to appreciate what people do. In serving as pressmen, you probably will never get a ‘thank you’ or anything, people don’t know. All they know is that he’s doing this wrongly. So a lot of times people just see the wrong you’re doing, and that is very rampant. But speaking with past presidents and their telling me, ‘Just do your best. You never will satisfy UIMSAites’ gave me a lot of confidence, and I did my best for the association. I am happy at the point I left it and to whom I left it. Thank you.
Speaking about your final exams, how were they overall?
We were the pioneer set for the new curriculum, and so we were the trial class. I must appreciate the leadership of the College and those who put the curriculum together. At first, we thought it was going to be a whole waste — that we would not get it right. But a lot of people put their neck on the line — Dr. Lawal, Prof. Ogunbiyi — a lot of people were on it that it must hold. And then unfortunately, my set also suffered a lot of strikes and industrial actions, so we spent a lot of time in school. When the finals came, we were all scared: we were writing four papers for the first time — used to be three. But when the exam really came, we realized that were actually writing five papers, because Family Medicine was standing alone in Public Health and we had to write a paper in that. After the exams, I felt I over-prepared. It’s not being boastful or anything. After the first paper, I had this confidence that okay, I think I know but I don’t know I know. So at the end of the day, I realized that the residual knowledge was there, things that you acquired passively without knowing. For instance, you just saw someone doing something and you’re like okay, observing. When you’re asked to reproduce it at that point, you would do it and you would be surprised that ‘Wow, I could do it’. That’s how the finals were; and I think, from the word around and the news all over, my set will have a good result. It was hard anyway but we thank God.
Is there anything you would have loved to achieve if you had more and would like this new administration to look into?
Obviously, if I had more time, there are things that I would have still loved to do. One of such things is that there has to be a connection with the college. It’s quite sad that when we go outside, everybody sees us as the premier — Ibadan; when I look at the relationship between the college and ourselves, it’s quite distant. As much as possible I tried to bridge that gap because the Provost became like a father to me and I wanted that fatherly role to translate to the associations being able to get things. There were a lot of opportunities for us, UIMSAites, a lot I must say, but we could not tap those— conferences here and there that we could not attend because the support was very little compared to other schools. LASU for instance had a lot of support from their college. So I really wanted to dwell more on and achieve that. Also the aspect of Internally Generated Funds. You probably don’t know that Mama Anat is supposedly a UIMSA ventures, but for the last two years we’ve not been able to get anything out of it because it was marked for demolition. We worked all hard and the university gave us another land, but you know, generating money to build is another thing. We were able ti strike an agreement with Mrs. Adegbeye i.e. Mama Anat: she agreed to build up while we stop charging her for the meantime. We were going to process the land ownership, which I did and handed over that comfortably. But the university will not give you a landed property but they will give you approval to carry out activities because while we were building, we had to demolish twice, because the university came and said no. So I wished during my tenure they completed that building but unfortunately, there was no time. So I’m hopeful that this administration will dwell on it and make sure that they put up that structure in good time so we can start to get money from that and fill in the deficit.
What is the next step? Any future plans, personal and professional?
Obviously, as a medical student, the next plan is house job. After the house job comes youth service. Basically, something drives me — I do not like to see people suffering, so I think that seems to be a major part of my future. I’m going to well on helping people around me. During the course of our getting degrees, I’ve tried to improve on my skill as a doctor. So I’m not going to shy away from serving the community in political offices too. Thank God for the ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run’ bill that was passed. It’s given youths the opportunity to also vie for offices. At 25 now, you can vie for a seat in the House of Assembly. I have all of these things in my mind. And, most importantly, have a good family with kids and everything. I’m a family man, basically. I do not intend to forget the association too. We’ve had about forty-something presidents and I was able to track down about twenty who were able to help. So UIMSA is in my plans.
Do you have any pieces of advice for UIMSAites?
I have a lot to say. Personally, when I meet persons in the association, I talk to them like a brother. The President when I was in 200 level still advises me on things, exams to take, professional courses to go for. I think in my own little way, I’ll keep advising from wherever I am, trying to stay close. Generally, I would say UIMSAites should get involved. They shouldn’t limit their scope to Nigeria. We are hopeful that the country will take a good turn in the nearest future but Nigerians are capable of many things and it will be sad that it’s in final year you start realizing the things that are available for you. What is the benefit of spending seven years in school if you don’t plan your life? So in that period you’re in school, while your mates are doing four-year courses and going into the market without knowing what’s up, sit back, plan, read online, go where you can. What opportunities await you in other places like Ghana, Australia? What must you do to get there? These are questions you must ask yourself now, not when you’re out of school. Then they have to build themselves. We have classmates that are into different forms of business — photography, make-up artistry, singing. So if you have talents, things you can do, never allow medicine to take that away from you. The fashion designer for Olusegun Obasanjo is a medical doctor, and right now, we have four fashion designers in my class. I would advise that you not throw away other dreams because of medicine. As much as possible, you can pursue two things and get them.
Okay, this is the last question. Are there any regrets all through your journey in medical school?
Would I call them regrets? I would’ve wished to do some things differently though. When I crossed over, I was really playful. I felt pre-clinical school was easy for me so I really banked on my intellectual capability as a person. I thought I was brilliant so I was playful initially. I wish I could back and change that because it affected a lot of my test scores. I knew I could have performed better if I had focused more. In pre-clinical school, I did not have enough friends. I was class rep yes, and I was quite popular, but I had few people I could really call friends. I think I would have loved to change that because this world I about networking. You’ll be surprised that the person in Guidance and Counselling you look down on now will be sitting at the board of a bank in the nearest future, and you’ll be like, ‘I need money to start building this hospital. Can your bank loan us…’ I think I would have done that differently, met more people, and impacted the lives of more people. I think I would have taken my God a little more seriously too. I kind of drifted apart because of service. Those are the things I can remember.
Thank you for your time. Indeed we have learnt a lot, and we wish you the very best in your future endeavours.