Nigeria Needs Best Brains for Devt, Says Babalakin

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Wale Babalakin

The Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), has said policies must be made to attract the best brains to teach in Nigerian universities.

This, he said, would speed up the country’s development.

Babalakin spoke yesterday at UNILAG’s College of Medicine during a valedictory service in honour of the founder of Hygeia HMO Limited and former Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Emmanuel Adeyemo Elebute (CON).

He said he was inspired by the late Elebute’s CV and achievements, adding that the deceased contributed extensively to the development of medicine.

Babalakin’s words: “Prof. Elebute attended CMS Grammar School and studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. He won the Cunningham Medal for Anatomy and Fitzpatrick Scholarship for the best performance in all professional examinations. With all the options available to him, he chose to come back to Nigeria and contribute to the College of Medicine, UNILAG. His CV is one that we should propagate.

“We have been having serious difficulty in attracting the best of scholars to the university system. In the era of the Elebutes and those immediately after them, there was no better thing to do than to be in the academia. Various policies have made this unattractive and until we reverse these policies and begin again to attract the best brains to teach in universities, our national development will remain stifled.”

He said the late Elebute was not only an academic but a “phenomenal administrator”, the pro-chancellor said: “He was the Chief Medical Director of LUTH from 1978 -1980. Before then he had participated actively in the union of doctors, seeking to improve the welfare of doctors as President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) between 1968 and 1970.

“He was also a member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Surgery. What this tells us is that we can rebuild from where we find ourselves; we can create a Nigerian academy that will be the envy of all.”

Babalakin explained that having distinguished himself as an academic, the late Elebute went further into providing medical services by establishing the Lagoon Hospital, which is “arguably one of the best medical centres in Nigeria today” and transformed it into Hygeia HMO.

“The best way to celebrate this great man is to tell ourselves that we have thesame inspiration; we have the same greatness and we will further it. We must decide to turn whatever stumbling blocks we find on our wayinto stepping stones for the attainment of greater heights”, he added.

In his tribute, the Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof. OluwatoyinOgundipe, said the late Elebute was a “mentor and not a tormentor” as well as a great grammarian.

Provost, UNILAG College of Medicine, Prof. AfolabiLesi, described the late Elebute as “an iconic man of many parts, a brilliant academician, a disciplined master of surgical craft, a true friend and a wonderful family man”.

According to LUTH CMD, Prof. Chris Bode, the late Elebute was an “impeccable dresser and was humble beyond belief.”

One of the deceased’s daughters, Mrs Dupe Odunsi, who gave the vote of thanks, said the late Elebute was “a wonderful father, who put a lot of enthusiasm into building our home”.

Also at the event were Elebute’s widow, Prof. Oyinade, and his children; Dr. Olorogun Sunny Kuku of Eko Hospital; Provost, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Prof. B. Osinusi; and Prof. Oladapo Ashiru of Mart-Life Clinic; among other eminent medical practitioners.