Vanguard Newspaper 14 February 2018
36 — VANGUARD, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2018 WITH CHARLES KUMOLU firstname.lastname@example.org 08052140865 (sms only) ODIKPO: I ignored Commonwealth scholarship to focus on making money WITH a great sense of fulfillment, Founder of First City Diagnosis, Dr. Iyke Odikpo explains how he rose from a young doctor, who drove cabs to become the owner of an upscale medical facility in Lagos, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. ON childhood: I was quite heady when I was young because I knew what I wanted in life. My parents made me what I am today. I inherited traits like stubbornness, kindness, and calmness from my father. I took my mother’s fearless and dogged nature. Mummy could stand up to anybody. I was born into a family of teachers. My father, Mr. Michael Azuka Odikpo was a school Principal. My mother, Mrs. Angelina Agiliga Odikpo retired as a Headmistress. She was a very strict and beautiful woman. She was one person that helped curtail my excesses in life. If anybody wanted me to do anything, the person had to negotiate with me. Anyone that tried to bully me when I was a child met a brick wall. Having come from such a background, I am not surprised that I am a true reflection of my parental background. Order to change my choice I studied Medicine because my father insisted. I wanted to be an economist. I had an uncle, late Dr. Nwani, who had a Ph.D. in Economics from America. I wanted to be like him. I loved Economics and did well in it. My understanding then was that the world was all about economics, but on the eve of the closure of Joint Admission Matriculation Board, JAMB, registration, my father came to my school to see my Principal. I was called to my Principal’s office where my father was seated beside my Principal and I was ordered to change my choice of Economics to Medicine. I had to sign a new set of forms. I was very angry about it to the extent of saying that I was not going to sit for the examination. But the fact that I did not want to fail an examination made me start reading a night to the examination. To the glory of God, I scored the required points for Medicine and got admitted to University of Jos Medical School in 1979 at the age of 16. Capacity and tenacity: If I did not have the capacity and tenacity, it would not have been easy to have the kind of grades needed to study Medicine. Studying Medicine was not easy but it was fun and exciting. Till date, it gladdens my heart to introduce myself as a medical doctor. Some people sometimes think I no longer practice because I veered into politics and business, but I am still in practice. I veered into politics because if good people stay out of politics, bad people will make bad laws and people will be compelled to obey. That is why people like me are in politics to see how best we can influence the affairs of the society. I have learnt to understand that arguing with government is difficult because government is like a big masquerade. It is a lot easier to influence things when one is in government. From childhood, I knew I had to belong to a profession where I will apply my skills. And as kids we looked at doctors as next to God. So I am glad to be one. It gives me joy that we make what people consider a big issue to be a non-issue after listening to patients. Imagine the joy in me whenever I revive unconscious patients. This has happened three times on flights. One was on an Aero flight while it happened twice on international flights. My boss said it was better I was starting my own, stating that the way things were in Nigeria at that time showed that it will be difficult for things to get better PERSONALITY ETHICS *I am adventurous *Perseverance make things work out *I don't disregard good advice Coming to Lagos Creating a niche for myself is a product of perseverance, hard work and focus because it was not easy when I got to Lagos. As a young doctor, I moved into the large Lagos market where I worked in two medical centres before I met Dr. Yomi Finnih, who smoothened my rough edges in the medical profession. I worked with him for four years before I set up my own practice. Being given the right advice helped a lot because Lagos was a huge and established market for a young boy to just make it without encountering hurdles. I was only trying to survive then and support my siblings. I attribute my success to God, doing the right things, working hard and getting the right advice. The combination of these, helped me to become established in Lagos. As a young doctor, I worked around the clock and played hard too. Fresh in my mind I remember an incident that happened at a local hospital where I was working that remains fresh in my mind. There was a night I was called to attend to a woman. She had a cesarean section that got infected and resulted in burst abdomen. I looked at her and found out that she appeared dead. I told them that if I referred the woman to a General Hospital she will not survive because of the long process of transporting her to the hospital and the procedures of admission. It was at a place called Ikotun Egbe and the nearest General Hospital at that time was Ikeja. It was a journey of one hour on bad roads at that time. I took a risk but I told them I was not promising anything. I did a surgery called Total Hysterectomy with the assistance of an auxiliary nurse. There was no anesthesia. At the time I was stitching the skin she started moving her legs and I was happy she survived. Unfortunately, the family did not have money to pay me when I finished the surgery. I was very angry as a young man. Sometimes when things work out for me, I feel that some of those things I did in the past were being repaid. They offered me family land but I was naive and refused to take it. I wish I had taken it. I told the husband that she will not be able to have a child again because the womb was removed. After telling my former boss, Dr. Finnih, he was marveled but warned me to be careful. Becoming successful Another person, who helped me in becoming successful, was my late friend, Ifeanyi Nwuke. I used to write proposals about how I will set up my hospital and I was looking for money that I will use. He advised me to look for an estate to set up my hospital. He said that every estate has settlements of company workers. That was how I rented a duplex in Gowon Estate where I started with my small savings. My siblings and I were the carpenters and bricklayers, who worked on the new place. My boss assisted me with the first set of furniture for the hospital and advised that if it becomes too difficult I can come back and continue working for him. My boss said it was better I was starting my own, stating that the way things were in Nigeria at that time showed that it will be difficult for things to get better. Initially, when I said I was going, my boss thought it was because of my salary and he increased it to N3,500 from N1,500 per month. While I was with Finnih, I encountered Major Mustapha Jokolo, retd. I delivered his second daughter and we became friends. I also provided medical services to him. Major Jokolo, considered me an excellent doctor who knows his onions. He introduced me to business and I was able to support my siblings and retired parents not minding my small salary. I used to lie to my father that I was taking loans from banks. When I started my first clinic in Gowon Estate, National Shipping Line which was functional at that time became my first major client. Thus, between 28 and 29, I made my first N1m as a doctor from National Shipping Line. First City Hospital I named my first hospital Aikland coined from Iyke and land. We grew from Gowon Estate and became more adventurous by moving to Victoria Island. I remember a certain Yoruba woman asking about my background and who my father was when I moved to the Island. She was surprised that an Igbo young man from Delta State could own a hospital in Victoria Island at that time. The right advice, right positioning, and perseverance made it possible. There were times when there were low moments but the successes kept coming. By the time I got to Victoria Island, I felt that the name, Aikland was not catchy enough. I had to register First City Hospital as a new name and later changed to First City Diagnosis because I met an elderly man, whose hospital was also known as First City Hospital. That is the story of First City Diagnosis that has given birth to so many success stories. Having made some money I started philanthropism in my village, Onicha-Olona. I have been partaking in the development of my village. I started playing politics during the Social Democratic Party , SDP, and National Republican Convention , NRC, era and got to the level of state delegate in NRC. In 2003, I left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to run for the Senate on the platform of United Nigeria Peoples Party, UNPP. I moved from being a doctor to a businessman and politician. But all these were made possible by God because there were some, who had such dreams but could not make it as a result of natural processes like death. Read full interview on www.vanguardngr.com
Vanguard, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2018 — 37 Death of NNPC top staff in Enugu raises dust •Family points accusing fingers at lover, relations By Emeka Mamah, Enugu THE police in Enugu have arrested a woman and some of her relations over alleged murder of a senior staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Engineer Val Ossai, at Nsukka, Enugu State on Monday, January 22, 2018. Ossai who returned from his Port Harcourt, Rivers State base for a burial at Aji, Enugu Ezike in Igbo Eze North Local Government Area of the state earlier on Saturday, January 20, reportedly died in the house of his alleged concubine, Monday night. Relations to the deceased, who spoke to Crime Alert, said their late brother was killed on Monday night and taken to a hospital near Fen Park in Nsukka, same night, but stressed that the hospital rejected the body on the grounds that its morgue was not functioning properly. They said that his killers later took his corpse to the Bishop Shanahan Hospital the following morning , Tuesday, before informing his father, Chief David Ossai and his other relations who were all resident at Nsukka, later at about 10.30 am. Younger brother to the deceased, Emeka Ossai, said that the deceased was dead already before he was taken straight to hospital mortuary even as the family was informed that he was rushed to hospital when he collapsed and became unconscious on Tuesday morning. They added that his killers later withdrew amounts totalling about N28.2 million from his account shortly after his death. According to him, “Val’s killers withdrew N26 million from his bank accounts domiciled in Port Harcourt, another N2million from another of his accounts, while they used his ATM card to withdraw N200, 000 cash from a bank at Obollo Afor in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu state between January 22 and 24,” adding that one of the things that rattled the family was that one of the cashed cheques was paid to the deceased whose corpse was already in the mortuary at the Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka. “We are worried and we want a thorough investigation. Our brother did not die a natural death. He was hale and hearty before he was killed,” Emeka added. However, in a swift reaction, a relation of the woman who refused to disclose his identity told Crime Alert over the phone that all the stories being peddled about the death of the deceased were fabricated. According to him, the deceased was traditionally married to our sister and they were enjoying marital bliss peacefully until the unfortunate incident. “The couple were in their room that day when he complained of uneasiness and before the wife could do anything, he collapsed. He was rushed to a nearby hospital alive but they referred us to another hospital. At that stage, the wife who was heavy with pregnancy P-H-O-T-O-S-P-E-A-K Arms surrender by cultists Late Val Ossai started bleeding as a result of the shock and she was also rushed to another hospital. Unfortunately, the husband died before we got to the second hospital. His death must be connected with some excesses which doctors earlier advised that he should stop indulging in. All other claims about withdrawal of money etc; are not known to us because we are busy mourning our in-law.” Enugu State Police Spokesman, Ebere Amaraizu declined comments on the issue because he had not been properly briefed, while the State Police Commissioner, Mohammed Danmalam, did not respond to a text message to him on the matter. Meanwhile, the NNPC has demanded that an autopsy be conducted while both the woman and her relations have reportedly been granted bail pending conclusion of police investigations into the case. The Commissioner of Police, Lagos state, Imohimi Edgal and other officers and security agents during the renunciation of cultism and surrender of arms by cultists at Ikorodu area of the state, Monday.