Last week, the sun set for Dr Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi, who until his death remained a positive reference point in the politics of the First Republic. Majekodunmi made history in 1962 when he was appointed Administrator of the old Western Nigeria at the heat of the crisis between the founder and leader of Action Group, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and then Premier of Western Nigeria, Chief Ladoke Akintola.
The emergence of Alhaji Dauda Adegbenro as the new Premier of the region and his manner of appointment had become a subject of national debate. In the confusion that ensued, the country was split between Adegbenro and Akintola and to resolve the impasse Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa appointed Majekodunmi, largely a non-partisan and highly respected citizen, the Administrator. He held the position for less than nine months but was acclaimed for his distinction in the management of the crisis. Majekodunmi, the principal actor of that turbulent period, had in the aftermath of the crisis earned critical respect for himself as a distinguished statesman.
Besides the role he played at a critical time in the First Republic, the name Majekodunmi has also remained a recurring decimal as an eminent physician, who apart from being the founder and chairman of Massey Hospital has left indelible marks in the nation’s health care delivery system. As the Honourable Federal Minister of Health, Majekodunmi is credited to have been the central figure in the establishment of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the College of Medicine, Idi-Araba, Lagos.
His decision to combine both institutions as complementary to each other and to the benefit of the medical students as well as the community they serve was considered revolutionary in many ways. At the time, the medical student and his/her training were wrapped in mystery in an institution that was far removed from the service of the community. Majekodunmi ended this bogey and brought the medical student close to the hospital he/she was supposed to serve, another form of the wig and gown having a meeting and melting point to the benefit of the people.
Majekodunmi’s life as a private citizen was equally intriguing in the way he used his influence, resources and knowledge to float a hospital in 1968. Since then, St Nicholas Hospital has grown to become one of Nigeria’s leading hospitals, providing reliable, effective and high quality healthcare for all patients, developing a good reputation for itself as a hospital that offers best practices in medicine. It was for long famous and still is as a centre for childcare and children related diseases.
In more ways than one Majekodunmi remained a point of inspiration to the younger generation who often consulted him on issues of national importance. In his later years, the former administrator (Premier) was pained the way the country was being run, the decadence in society and the rudderless movement of the ship of state. He openly demonstrated his disgust for bad governance when he joined forces with patriotic Nigerians who were eager to restore the country to civilian leadership under the late Genera Sani Abacha.
A prominent Egba son, Majekodunmi was born on August 17, 1916, in Abeokuta, Ogun State and after his primary and secondary education sojourned to Dublin in Britain in search of the Golden Fleece. He returned home as a medical doctor, and was appointed a medical officer in the Nigerian Medical Service where he practised as a gynaecologist obstetrician and consulting doctor. He distinguished himself as a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at the Massey Street Maternity Hospital, Lagos General Hospital and Creek Hospital, Lagos.
Indeed, one of the last titans of the politics of the First Republic has left this planet bringing closer the end of a chapter that has remained a formidable history of our national journey. We will continue to remember him for his good deeds and his wish for a country where the ideals of the founding fathers would help to re-invent us on a nobler path.