Oyediran: Story of an Accomplished Medical Scholar


Moses Adebayo Alao

Every life has a story supporting its existence. And, interestingly, every story has its own peculiar narratives, uniquely structured and patterned to reflect the individual’s earthly sojourn. In other words, such narratives are usually interlaced with intrigues and other defining suspense, all of which coalesce to form the distinct identity of the individual: his success, his failure, indeed his entire persona, for which he would be assessed, admired, respected and honoured and even condemned.

The life of Professor Allen Bankole Oladunmoye Olukayode (ABOO) Oyediran follows this uniquely designed pattern as contained in his autobiography, He Leadeth Me: Autobiographical Testimonies of Olukayode Oyediran, that will be unveiled on Tuesday, 16 May, 2017 at Oritsejolomi Thomas Hall, University of Ibadan International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, as part of the activities to mark his 78th birthday.

His life’s narrative, as the book will reveal, has a large dose of dramatic intrigues and suspense and divinely structured to evoke inspirational desire. It is a story of a distinguished academic career both as a scholar and administrator filled with honours and accolades, a remarkable exploit as a medical professional and an enviable success as a family man.

To present this remarkable story of a celebrated medical administrator at the unveiling ceremony scheduled to begin at 11.00am are: Professor Akinlawon Mabogunje, (Chairman); Professor Oyinade Odutola-Olurin (Chief Presenter); Chief Akin Dosu and Dr Oba Otudeko, who will stand in as co-presenters. Professor Oyewole Tomori will have the singular honour of reviewing the 17-chapter book that vividly captures the remarkable adventure of the medical scholar.
But Oyediran’s journey, as remarkable as it is, is not without its own challenges. Through the book the public will learn ,for instance, how the subject learned the lesson of wise counselling right from his early years in the choice of career by following through the wish of his father who wanted him to become a medical doctor.

After successfully completing his secondary education at CMS Grammar School, Lagos in 1954 and the Cambridge Higher School Certificate (HSC) at King’s College, Lagos, the young Oyediran had opted to study Medicine, therefore, fulfilling his father’s career wish for him. This plan was bolstered when, through the interplay of divine consideration and hard work, he won a scholarship from the United African Company (UAC) to study Medicine at London University (Guy’s Hospital Medical School); interestingly, Oyediran had earlier been offered admission by the University of Ibadan to study the same course. Thus began his adventure in medicine in 1959, reluctantly though at first, but which he finished with remarkable success in 1964 and went on to acquire a higher degree with distinction from Edinburgh University in 1969; London University (School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene) 1970 and Nigerian’s premier university, University of Ibadan, 1975.

Oyediran’s high intellect has been one of the defining divinely endowed qualities in his narratives. His high cerebral gift has earned him rewards and accolades often. Apart from the full UAC scholarship which he enjoyed, he also had the singular privilege of being awarded the Commonwealth scholarship for Medicine from 1968 to 1970. He, of course, never failed to repay such scholarly benefactions in full measure. For instance, Oyediran is the first ever recipient of D.T.M & H with distinction from the Edinburgh University and the Greig medal of honour from the same university in 1969. He was also the recipient of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Travel Fellowship, among other such recognitions.

With an academic career spanning over four decades, this resourceful personality has made tremendous contributions to the quantum of research in medicine, particularly in the area of tropical and preventive health, which he deliberately specialised in to address the grave health needs and challenges of modern Nigeria and Africa. As a professor of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Ibadan, Oyediran was not only faced with the task of ensuring adequate researches on that field of medicine, he was also required to regenerate future medical experts and scholars like himself. A task which he carried out efficaciously judging from the array of medical scholars and practitioners that passed through his academic guardianship and guidance primarily at the University of Ibadan and in other places he has served.

Between 1998 and 2001, he served as the Director, Malarone Donation Programme (MDP) based in Kenya. The programme was the combined initiative of WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, The World Bank and Rockefeller Foundation executed through Task Force for Survival and Development based in Atlanta. And Oyediran was responsible for the overall design and execution of the programme. But before then, he had served in various administrative capacities at the University of Ibadan and its teaching hospital, University College Hospital (UCH) as acting Chief Medical Director before attaining the zenith of academic ambition by being appointed the Vice Chancellor of one of Africa’s finest universities and Nigeria’s first, University of Ibadan.

For four years, from 1991 to 1995, Professor ABOO Oyediran rode the crestwave of University of Ibadan’s administration. It was during the military era of General Ibrahim Babangida and the nation’s was in the thick of economic crises and political agitations. The University of Ibadan had only recently then survived a closure aftermath a bloody nationwide varsity students’ campaign against the government’s Structural Adjustment Policy (SAP). Thus Oyediran had his work well cut out for him from the beginning. Interestingly, also, he would also later inherit the national agitations for revalidation of June 12 1993 presidential election which was annulled by the Babangida government and which threw the nation’s tertiary campuses in flames. But Oyediran did not allow all these distractions to override his projected vision for the university. He blazed the trail by computerising the famous Kenneth Dike Library, creating the position of second deputy vice chancellor, as well as completing many landmark projects in the institution.

The story of Oyediran is an interesting one, which has even become more cinematic with age, a well-scripted happy-ending drama, an uncommon tale of grace and achievements and honour. It is a story that would not have been complete without the equally outstanding support from his soul-mate and companion, Reverend Omotola Oyediran and their children. Her solid support provided the needed elixir and boost for his academic and medical profession conquest.
Today, though retired as a public servant, Professor Oyediran has continued his life of service by promoting a non-government organisation, Nigeria Network for Awareness and Action for Environmental Health (NINAAFEH), whose interest is primarily to draw attention to the health benefit of a cleaner environment in the promotion of good health. He is a member of Rotary Club and a former President of the Ibadan West of the social organisation in the 1992-1993 Rotary Year.

He is the Ba’asegun of Offa, a chieftaincy title that recognises his sterling contributions to Medicine and scholarship and has served his country well in many areas of health, environment and other interventions.
––Alao, a media professional, is based in Ibadan.