Let me quickly appreciate and congratulate the visionary Founder of this University for his foresight, perseverance, courage and endurance. Starting from August 1999 when he collected application from the National Universities Commission (NUC) for the establishment of Ibraheem College of Surgeons and physicians. Although the NUC’s comment was not favourable, he never relented in his efforts, another application was filed with the NUC in June 2002, based on the comments received from the Commission, he continued to develop the project site. An 11-man Project Planning Committee lead by the indefatigable Professor Nurudeen Olorunnibe Adedipe, the foundation Vice-Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, was at the Airport Hotel from 17-21 of January 2006 to write the Academic Brief and the Law of the University. It was at this meeting that the current name of the University, Eko University of Medicine and Health Sciences was coined; it was a catch. The new name enjoyed acceptance by all and Sundry. Project development continued driven by the Masterplan, carefully put together by the Centre for African Settlement Studies and Development (CASSAD) Master Planners.
At last in February 2009 the NUC paid its first visitation, followed about 7 years later with the final visitation in June 2016. The Federal Executive Council finally approved the University at its Meeting of Wednesday 6th December 2017 and by Tuesday 19th December 2017, the licence was formally presented to the founder by the Federal Minister for Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who was ably represented by the NUC Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar A. Rasheed at the Idis Abdulkadir Auditorium, NUC premises, Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama District, Abuja, the journey, since 1999, had taken altogether, 18 years, and that explained the perseverance and great sacrifice of the Founder.
At this juncture, it is also pertinent for all of us, especially our potential students to be aware of the history of formal medical education in our country. Training of indigenous medical practitioners in our country started in 1932 from the Yaba Higher College where young Nigerians were undergoing vocational training in pharmacy, veterinary, medicine and agricultural sciences. The College soon transformed and became, in 1948, the University of Ibadan, the Premier University in Nigeria, with medicine as one of the foundation disciplines.
The premier University of Ibadan College of Medicine, where I also underwent my training between 1973 and 1978 had since reproduced itself several folds with the addition of 33 medical schools, thus bringing the total to 34. The medical schools were spread across the country, sixteen (47.1%), 10 (29.4%) and 8 (23.5%) were Federal, States and private, respectively. All of the schools but three are attached to standard universities; the 3 mono-Colleges of Health Sciences are the Ondo State Uni of Med Sciences, Ondo, and two private institutions, Eko University of Medical and Health Sciences, your own institution and the PAMO University of Medicine, Port Harcourt.
With 34 medical schools in place, it may be asked if there is any need for additional medical schools in the country. The answer is an emphatic yes. Based on our current population of 182 million at a 3.5% growth rate from the 2006 census (National Population Commission, 2017), our country is grossly deficient in medical doctors and other health professionals including pharmacists, physiotherapists, nurses, laboratory scientists, etc. Our health manpower level is so poor that the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) performance rating places Nigeria 187th out of 191 nations! Far from the WHO recommendation of a minimum of one doctor to 600 patients, Nigeria has a ratio of one doctor to 6000 patients! The country needs more than 303, 000 doctors to meet the WHO standard, and at least 10,605 new doctors annually to join the workforce (NOIPolls. Abuja August 3rd, 2017). Yet, of the 72,000 registered doctors in the country only 35,000 are in active practice, more than 50% are in diaspora. At the current annual production of about 3000-3500 doctors in the country, it would take nearly a hundred years to produce enough medical doctors for our needs!
Similarly, from the data kindly provided by Dr. Kayode Ijadunola, Professor and current Provost of the Obafemi Awolowo University College of Health Sciences, the just concluded 2017 admission exercise showed that the College could recommend for admission into her medical and allied medical sciences programmes only 330 (13%) of the 2530 qualified candidates, and just 8% of the 1464 qualified candidates for medicine was recommended! This, indeed, is a reflection of the situation in all medical schools across the country; most are only capable of admitting, may be 10-15%, or at most 20% of the qualified candidates every year. The big question then is what happens to the remaining very large number of candidates?
It is to bridge this gap and frustration of Nigerian youths, who though qualified, could not get admission that the Founder of EkoUNIMED, Dr. Ibraheem Hameed established this University. Indeed, we need more of such adventurers in the field of higher education.
The Vision of this University is to be a world-class institution for the medical and other health professions in terms of learning, research, character building and service to humanity.
The uniqueness of this University is its curriculum, which incidentally is driven by its vision as stated above. The University runs a holistic health sciences programmes, including medicine, dentistry and the allied medical specialists of nursing sciences, medical rehabilitation and medical laboratory sciences. The medical and dental programmes will be preceded by bachelor degree in any of the basic medical specialities of anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology.
The University trains all health care professionals under the same learning environment. It is the belief of the University that such a training programme will reduce the current most unhealthy, unproductive and most disgraceful interprofessional squabbles characteristic of health care professionals in our country today. We expect you, as professionals graduating from this University to remain friendly, patriotic, relate well to each other and respect the ethics of your various professions. We want you to understand that the happiest persons on earth are those who know their limitations at all time and appreciate dignity for labour. A worthy team leader must have deep respect for members of the team and appreciate the fact that the best is achieved through cooperative work ethics rather that master-servant relationship. This is what this institution hopes to inculcate in all of you. I wish you all grow to make this a reality, at least for the sake of our country and our patients.
It is therefore a great privilege for any student that finds him/her self in EkoUNIMED, let me congratulate such lucky students in advance for such an opportunity. In particular, the pioneers of the great experiment in medical education, a mono-university of medicine in Nigeria. It is my hope and prayer that, in a few years’ time when the history is to be related, many of such students will be proud to identify themselves as one of the revolutionary students, and the school will be proud to bring them as a staff of EkoUNIMED.
Arising from the above, how will any student or the parent feel should you s/he be asked to withdraw from studentship of this University? Involvement in any of the following will get any student expelled fast: Cultism, Drug Abuse, sexual assault (rape) and examination malpractices. It is also in the interest of our students to run away from smoking and alcohol abuse. You may wish to note that alcoholic beverages will not be available in students’ cafeterias.
Finally, we appreciate the Oba and the people of Otto-Ijanikin, the proud host community. We appreciate all the pioneering staff, including my humble self and we appreciate the Founder, Dr. Ibraheem Hameed and all those that prepared the University Brief, starting from the Airport Hotel, Ikeja; they are too large to mention individually but I should single out the Chairman, Prof. Nurudeen Adedipe. Our joy is that we are all alive to witness the actualisation of the dream.