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Blood, tears and sweat: The experience of a senatorial campaign

I LOST my best friend after he suffered complications following a surgical operation of this nature, 20 years ago.

He paid a huge sum of money, only to die in the hands of incompetent persons.  I fear this opportunity to meet highly qualified surgical personnel will not come my way again,” was the reply the seemingly well-to-do, middle aged man gave.

He had been accused by his indigent compatriots of taking undue advantage of the free medical and surgical care provided for by the Olajumoke Akinjide Foundation in Oyo Central Senatorial District, Oyo State Nigeria.

Some of the nearly 100 patients awaiting surgery corroborated his story, but one of them was conspicuously quiet.  He had a grossly disfigured face, due to a fast growing tumor.

The forlorn-looking 17-year-old Mujib had lost the power of speech:  The tumor had distorted his mouth.  His mother encouraged him to maintain his position on the queue, reminding him intermittently that she could not afford the six-figure amount demanded  by various hospitals previously visited; and there were supposed to be three major procedures to be performed over six months, each costing the same astronomical amount.

“Mujib my son, be strong and watchful, maintain your position on the queue.  It shall be well.  I hope this politician, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide will, unlike most politicians, keep her promise”.

She got an instant reply from many women across the waiting hall.  “We have had various surgeries.  We have come for checks of surgical incision lines.  She kept her promises to us.  My husband had a huge scrotal hernia for six years.  Life was hellish for both of us.

That is history now.  Her staff are a positively different breed.  They are kind to us. She has chosen and motivated them very well.  And to think that this is happening in all 11 local government areas of our senatorial district!

“Indeed,” chorused the other women.  One of them shed tears while describing how she was delivered of her baby by caesarian section, while the person next to her also had a huge facial tumor.  Now she has returned six weeks later for check-up only to find her transformed:  Her facial features now restored and the young woman bristling with life.

The young woman refered to, soon entered the waiting hall, and joined in the discussion, confirming her pleasant experience in the hands of the Olajumoke Akinjide Foundation staff.  She encouraged Mujib’s mother to be calm and expect the best.

It was soon Mujib’s turn.  The anaesthetists assessed him again and wheeled him into the theatre.  He was put to sleep and the surgical team spent six hours removing his tumor and reconstructing his face.  Oloye Jumoke Akinjide herself took time off her busy schedule to be present in theatre to give moral support to staff and reassure Mujib’s mother and another relation.

The patient was wheeled out of the theatre at 11 pm with infusion lines and antibiotics running into his veins.  The relief on his mother’s face when he opened his eyes as she called his name was indescribable.  “Yes.  This is what my son looked like before the affliction.  Thank you Oloye Jumoke Akinjide.  God bless you.

You have saved my son’s life.  I was warned the condition might cost his life, but I could not afford the cost of treatment.  God bless you”.

Mujib has since fully recovered, but the fate of thousands, perhaps millions of indigent persons like him in Oyo Central Senatorial District comprising of Ibadan, Oyo and Ogbomosho (the three major towns in Oyo State) bothers my mind.

The patients on the list of 607 children and 276 adults awaiting surgery compiled the day before election will all be treated over the next couple of weeks.

When I remember the genuine effort of Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, resulting in employment of more than 30 surgeons and physicians for one and half years while campaigning initially as an aspirant, and later as Candidate for the PDP in the senatorial elections of Oyo Central District, I ask what more a people may desire of a politician. In her case it is obvious victory did not go to the best candidate.

Some other factors definitely played a role. Anti-party activities by bad losers have been mentioned. Party leaders had openly admonished the persons involved. But it is the sick and indigent that may be made to suffer now. I was part of the team that carried out more than 10,000 surgical operations and treated tens of thousands of patients for malaria, typhoid and gastro-enteritides, absolutely free of cost to the patients.

Making use of primary health centres, PHC, for provision of tertiary care, was proof that basic facilities can be put to maximum use, with dedication and able leadership. When you assess Oloye, you are provoked to believe it, when it is mentioned that PDP is the best party in the land, in spite of its shortcomings. The statistics speak for themselves.

Dr. BAYO ALUKO OLOKUN, a facial surgeon consultant, wrote from Abuja.


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