Olokoba: Celebrating a Gold Fish @ 50

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By Abubakar Imam

When the immediate past government of Kwara State completed the rehabilitation of the Ilorin General Hospital in 2013, the administration of ex-Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed(b. 1963),which governed “the State of Harmony” between 2011 and 2019, reasonably desired the efficient management of the facility by an indigenous world class medical practitioner and a distinguished administrator. Searchlights were beamed on several accomplished professionals in the field of Medicine. After a thorough search here and there, the lot fell on a distinguished son of the soil, Prof. Abdulfatai Bamidele Olokoba.

Prof. Olokoba was subsequently appointed as the pioneer Chief Medical Director of the Hospital. He consequently ran it successfully between 2013 and 2020. Prof. Olokoba did not disappoint his appointers. He also lived to the expectations of many of his colleagues he worked with and the innumerable number of patients who patronised the 56 year old health facility. He gave a very good account of himself by making the facility serve its essence to the fullest of its capacity, which reduced the pressure on the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, to a great extent.

With the appointment, Prof. Olokoba became a sort of “saving grace” of Ilorin Emirate. Why? This conclusion would be perfectly understood upon the perusal of the history of the Hospital, which was first opened in 1955. On its commissioning by the then Northern Regional Minister of Health, Alhaji Yahaya Madawaki, MBE,OFR (1907-1998)the pioneer Madawaki of Ilorin, Ilorin Emirate had no Medical Doctor among its indigenes. And so, the late Alhaji Amori Gidado,otherwise called Amori Oniwe of Ile Tapa in the Pakata area of Ilorin who lived between 1909 and 1964, was appointed as the Hospital Secretary in order to ensure that the health needs of the indigenes were attended to. But 58 years after and upon the complete rehabilitation of the Hospital its headship was shouldered by an Ilorin man who ran it so well that the concerned authorities are considering the possibility of transforming it to the Kwara State University Teaching Hospital.

Under his watch, the hospital attained major milestones in the training of Healthcare workers such as its affiliation of the with KWASU for the training of Medical Laboratory and Environmental Sciences students since 2015, its
accreditation by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for training of Medical Interns,which began in 2018 and its affiliation with Al-Hikmah University Ilorin for the training of Medical Laboratory Students since 2019.Other significant development recorded by the Hospital during his tenure was its affiliation with LAUTECH Ogbomoso and the West African College of Nursing for the training of post-basic and Fellowship Nurses right from 2019 and approval of the Kwara State Government for the commencement of Postgraduate Residency training in Family Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynaecology as well as the initiation of the process for its eventual accreditation by the Postgraduate Medical Colleges such as the West African College of Physicians and National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria,which kicked off last year.

Before and since then, this outstanding patriot has been found useful in so many realms and for so many projects and programmes that he has become a gold fish, which has no place to hide.

If I say I know Prof. Olokoba quite well like many other sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate that I have written on, I will not be stating the obvious. I am also not sure if he can pick me out from a crowd. I saw him only twice. The first time was shortly after his assumption as the Chief Executive of the institution when he came to hold consultation with the National Executive Council of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union, which was then under the presidency of the late Honourable Justice Saka Yusuf, OFR(1933-2018). I was then the Recording Secretary of the Union. He appeared to me to be a perfect gentleman and a professional to the core. The other time was during the credentials screening exercise conducted for all the staff of the University of Ilorin in 2018. At the event, he and I sat next to each other. I greeted him as demanded by our culture. And he responded in a way that made me happy that an egghead of his class could also show some respect to those of us who may never attain the enviable professorial rank.

Despite not knowing him enough and notwithstanding that he may have his weaknesses like you and I, the testimonies of those who had at one time or the other worked or interacted with him over the years suggested that he is a good fellow who should be celebrated not for any other reason but “for the love of our people”.

Prof. Abdulfatai Bamidele Olokoba, an exciting expert in Internal Medicine and prolific Public Health professional, was born in Awo-Ekiti in the present Ekiti State but raised in the ancient commercial city of Kano. His date of “call to earth” was March 11,1971.His father was Alhaji Yakubu Alabi Folorunsho Olokoba,who retired as the Deputy General Manager of the National Airspace Management Agency(NAMA). His late mother was Mrs Folashade Olokoba (nee Oyebade)who hailed from the present-day Ekiti State. The Olokobas, whose progenitor bore the name of the longest serving Emir of Ilorin , Shaykh Abdulkadir Shuaib Dan Bawa, are members of the famous Akuji family of Ita-Egba Quarters on the popular Pakata Road, Ilorin.

This birthday boy commenced his intellectual pursuit at the famous Baptist Primary School, Kano, in 1976.He left the school for the Army Children School in the same city of Kano,in 1981.He eventually earned his First School Leaving Certificate in 1982.

Prof. Olokoba proceeded to the Federal Government College, Kano,where he met several of his contemporaries from allover Nigeria, for his secondary school education. He was trained at the school between 1982 and 1988 at the end of which he received his West African School Certificate in flying colours.

Prof. Olokoba can be described as a total product of the University of Ilorin. This is based on the fact that he received most of his academic qualifications from the institution and has also been offering his services to humanity through the University. For a son of Ilorin who was born and spent his formative years outside the historic city, Prof. Olokoba applied to no other institution aside the University of Ilorin despite its relatively higher criteria for eligibility. His conviction was that studying at the University of Ilorin would afford him not only the possibility of returning to his ancestral home but also grant him the privilege of contributing his quotas to its development upon graduation.

He was subsequently offered admission into the College of Health Sciences of the nation’s most sought after University where he studied Medicine between 1989 and 1997.He graduated with the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MB;BS) of the University in 1997.He was also trained at the West African Postgraduate Medical College(WAPMC) between 2000 and 2005 from which he earned the Fellowship of Internal Medicine. In 2006, this great medic was trained at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and subsequently received a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the globally renowned Royal College of Physicians, London,United Kingdom.

Between 2005 and 2007, Prof. Olokoba attended the same better by far University from where he received his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. He took the elitist MBA degree just to expand his professional and intellectual horizons. He also earned his Master of Public Health from the University of Ilorin after a thorough training, which ran between 2007 and 2009.From the same citadel of learning, Prof. Olokoba also obtained a Certificate in Health Planning & Management. He also received his Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in Public Health. As a determined man who does not believe in limiting his knowledge, Prof. Olokoba is currently pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Public Health from the University of Ilorin,which all things being equal, would be completed before the year runs out.

Prof. Olokoba commenced his brilliant career as a House Officer at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, a position which afforded him the privilege of offering adequate health services to his compatriots from Ilorin Emirate and beyond. He did that between 1997 and 1998. He subsequently offered his mandatory youth service as a Member of the National Youth Service Corps(NYSC).He was a corps Medical Doctor at Ningi Local Government Area of Bauchi State from 1998 to 1999.

Having completed his mandatory Youth service programme,which is a sort of libation for national peace and progress,Prof. Olokoba joined the services of the Kwara State Government and served as a Medical Officer in charge of Patigi General Hospital,Patigi, from 1999 to 2000. He thereafter proceeded to his postgraduate Residency training at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, and the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-ife, Osun State from 2000 to 2005. In between,he joined his alma mata,the University of Ilorin as a Lecturer in the institution’s College of Health Sciences. He did so in 2002 as an Associate Lecturer at the institution’s Department of Physiology. In 2005, he became a Lecturer I at the Department of Medicine of the University. Between 2009 and 2014, Prof. Olokoba was elevated to the rank of a Senior Lecturer. He became an Associate Professor in 2014, and eventually attained the pinnacle of his career as a Professor of Medicine on October 1, 2017.His appointment as a Professor of Medicine brought him to the professional status hitherto occupied by Prof. Sulyman Alege Kuranga(b. 1957) who served as the Chief Medical Director of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, between 2001 and 2009 and the incumbent, Prof. Abdullahi D. Yusuf and a few other indigenes of the southernmost Emirate who are teaching one aspect of Medicine or the other in the University system.

Prof. Olokoba has not limited his services to the University of Ilorin. He has been an Adjunct Professor at the School of Applied Health Sciences, Kwara State University, Malete, since 2018. He has also served on so many visitation panels to several institutions of higher learning and professional training outlets across Nigeria.

Professionally, this patriot is hugely outstanding. He holds Fellowships of several professional bodies in Nigeria and beyond. These include the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria(Associate Fellow- Internal Medicine), the West African College of Physicians(FWACP), and the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

This foremost scholar and practitioner of Internal Medicine, who has received no fewer than 12 scholarship awards and prizes, has more than 100 professionally stimulating articles, either jointly or singlehandedly published in respected local, national and international indexed peer-reviewd scientific journals. He has also supervised no fewer than 9 Postgraduate theses in the course of his career as a teacher.

Prof. Olokoba equally attended about 10 training programmes and 14 conferences, workshops, symposiums and seminars organised within and beyond the shores of Nigeria. At most of the intellectual forums, Prof. Olokoba either coordinated intellectual discourse or presented stimulating papers on various topical national and International issues.

This resourceful scholar, public health physician, infectious disease expert and administrator was the Chairman of the Kwara State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association(NMA) between 2008 and 2010. He was also a Member of the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Medical Association from 2008 to 2014 and since 2020.As a mark of his professionalism and leadership capabilities, Prof. Olokoba served as the Deputy Sub-Dean and Ag. Sub-Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin both between 2010 and 2013.

Prof. Olokoba has not only tirelessly taught different courses and conducted meaningful scientific researches, which improved his visibility in the scholarly arena, he has also served the nation in several capacities over the years. He was a Member of the Governing Board of the Federal Neropsychiatric Hospital, Kware,Sokoto State between 2010 and 2012. He was also a Member of the Governing Board of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife,Osun State from 2013 to 2015. He also served as a Member of the Kwara State Hospital Management Board between 2014 and 2020. He held the same position on the Board of the Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre,Ilorin, between 2016 and 2019 as well as being a Member of the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19 since 2020. He is also on the Planning Committee on the Establishment of the Kwara State University Medical School.

This great son of Ilorin,who is a very brilliant, resourceful,enterprising, humane,fraternal and accomplished professional of Internal Medicine and Public Health scholar is a man to watch. From my interactions with those who knew him better,Prof. Olokoba is so blessed with the right and rich skills and the uncommon readiness to provide adequate solutions to challenges that one can say that if our society is peopled by his likes the level of progress and development would have skyrocketed in multiple folds.

Prof. Olokoba is happily married to a very delectable woman Dr (Mrs) Lateefat Bukola Olokoba,a daughter to Prof. Shittu Ademola Bello, a Professor of Law at Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin. His wife is a distinguished Ophthalmologist and Commonwealth scholar at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin. The marriage is blessed with three very promising children – Faisal, Fawaz and Firdaus.

Prof. Olokoba is well known for his generousity in his Ita-Egba Quarters and Alanamu ward for organising numerous empowerment programmes for the less privileged. He also sunk a borehole and reticulate the same for his immediate ancestral community. He also distributes provisions during the annual Ramadan fast among the less privileged members of the same community. As part of his efforts at serving his community the more,he was a pioneer member and financier of Alanamu branch of the IEDPU. He is also currently an Executive Member of the increasingly popular Ilorin Emirate Professors’ Association (IEPA)

Prof. Olokoba is currently an examiner and resource person to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), the pioneer Secretary General of League of Academic Journal Editors of Nigeria (LAJEN), and a member of the Advisory Committee of World Continuing Education Alliance (WCEA). He is also currently the Faculty Secretary of Internal Medicine of West African College of Physicians (WACP), and an External Examiner to the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS). Prof. Olokoba is also a renowned Gastrointestinal Endoscopist who has helped to set up Endoscopy units in ECWA Hospital Egbe, Kogi State, in 2005; Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa State,in 2006; and Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo, Taraba State (2020).

Prof. Olokoba,despite his tight schedule, is a lover of Sports and has won some medals in Badminton. He has also organised some Youth Badminton Tournaments in Kwara State.He is currently the Vice-Chairman of the Kwara State Badminton Association.

As this golden son of Ilorin attains the golden age, I join his students, colleagues, associates, relations and patients in wishing him a very colourful and fruitful birthday. I also wish him many more decades of services to Allah and humanity.

Imam is National Publicity Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.

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