On the same day, in the same city, and literally during the same hour, two Oyo State gubernatorial candidates – Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu and Health Commissioner Azeez Adeduntan - got on separate radio stations to talk to the citizens and field questions but ended up displaying a remarkable degree of arrogance and condescension that showed they lacked the temperament and finesse for such an important office. Shittu was on Fresh FM and Adeduntan was on Splash FM. Let’s talk about Adeduntan first.
I had just met him on Oluwaseun Akinola’s Splash FM (105.5) radio talk show in Ibadan on the morning of April 7 th . He was seated next to me as I rounded off my own segment as guest on the program. As I rose to leave, we shook hands and I perfunctorily wished him “good luck” on his gubernatorial campaign. Listening to him minutes later in my vehicle as I drove home, I regretted wishing him good luck.
Adeduntan told one caller that her complaint about workers and caregivers, including even cleaners, at State Hospital, Adeoyo, demanding bribes and other forms of gratification before providing supposedly free services, was not true. He rejected her complaint that the hospital was often without electricity as the generator would not be turned on whenever there was power outage. His excuse for lack of enough qualified care providers at Adeoyo, especially in times of emergencies, was that “all over the world” and including the US from where he came, doctors were never strictly tethered to a particular hospital; they were “associated” with different hospitals to which they reported whenever they were needed! His belligerent tone with the lady also dripped with vaingloriousness, rudeness and condescension. He was a US-based vascular surgeon; how dare she complain about services at a hospital set up with taxpayers’ money? Instead of whining, she ought to show gratitude to him for doing something to make the place better. He went on and on, lecturing the poor caller.
Then another call came in. The caller introduced himself as a Pathologist. If Adeduntan was rude to the previous caller, he was downright abusive to the Pathologist. The Pathologist had told Adeduntan that what he (Adeduntan) had just told the previous caller about Adeoyo was not true. And that’s when Adeduntan exploded:
“You call yourself a doctor and you are accusing a fellow doctor of lying? If we look at our qualifications, perhaps I am even your senior! As professionals, we don’t contradict each other. We don’t contradict professional seniors. We swear to an oath! I have been to Adeoyo 50 to 60 times since my appointment and I am telling you that what that caller was saying is not true! Listen! When she said dead bodies were being mistreated in that mortuary, it’s not true. I know there was a time the mortuary had too many dead bodies than it could take because of the large number of accident victims brought there from the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. But we were able to get a court order that allowed us to bury those unclaimed bodies in mass graves. So, what she was saying is not true! And for you as a Pathologist – if you say you are a Pathologist – a doctor, to come on air and say another doctor…a senior doctor is lying, I am disappointed. I am offended!”
You can imagine my shock. Is this the man that wants to succeed Governor Ajimobi in Oyo State? Another Constituted Authority? Even Ajimobi was not nearly this crass or this bellicose when he was a candidate. The good people of Oyo State do not need such a confrontational, egotistic, antagonistic and elitist governor. Adeduntan will terrorize Oyo State.
The most direct route to my house from the premises of Splash FM was through Ring Road. You know me; I decided to make the left at Adeoyo roundabout and visit the hospital to see who was telling the truth. Shame on Adeduntan for denigrating, ridiculing and bullying citizens who were doing their civic duty of calling the attention of a government official to the anomalies in a section of the ministry he supervises. Yes, there is evidence of construction going on at that hospital. But the callers did not lie. Adeduntan was the one lying and shading the facts. I totally understand that politicians all over the world twist facts. But you don’t do it while insulting the people that you are supposed to serve. This man has a reputation for insensitivity and talking down to people. He was the same guy who said the State government should not be blamed for not having qualified caregivers on duty that night, on last year’s New Year’s Eve, that Fresh FM radio Presenter, Femi Oluwajobi, was knocked down by a drunk driver. For him, because Oluwajobi had just a 30% chance of survival when he was brought to the hospital, it was not the State government’s responsibility to have qualified medical personnel on hand to care for him and try to save his life. Of course, Oluwajobi died while being transported from Adeoyo to University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, several kilometers away.
I wished I was back in the studio and on air with Adeduntan. I would have asked him which oath doctors swear to that prevents them from contradicting a lying physician. I would have asked him if he was on that show in his capacity as a self-employed doctor or as a Commissioner…a public servant whose livelihood was being paid by the callers. I would have asked him if in the US - anywhere in the US -including Athens, Georgia, where he had his practice, you could take an accident victim to a hospital’s emergency room and there would be no qualified personnel on duty to respond. I would have asked him if in the US, doctors throw up their hands and let a patient who has 30% chance of survival die just like that.
You see, the problem with recruiting these so-called experts from overseas to come work in our system is that we recruit the wrong ones. This guy may be a great vascular surgeon. (Our current Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, is a great OB-GYN doctor and lecturer.) That’s it. That’s all he is. That’s all they are - doctors. They are not great administrators; certainly not proactive or revolutionary in any sense.
But Prof. Adewole is not running for governor of any State. Adeduntan is. With his type of attitude, he should not be governor of any State; certainly not Oyo. He should not even be administrator of anyinstitution, especially a medical institution. This guy got his head stuck so far in Ajimobi’s rear end on that show, unapologetically (but expectedly) praising Ajimobi for “revolutionizing” Oyo State’s health sector with a mandatory medical insurance that would attract an annual premium of N8000 that you’d know he was angling for Ajimobi’s endorsement for his gubernatorial ambition. It was a disservice to the people of Oyo State. He denied being a politician and described himself as a “professional in politics”. What the heck does that mean?
As for Bayo Shittu, his face-to- face performance with presidential candidate and publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, validated the assertion of those who know him well who have dismissed him as an uncouth glorified thug. You have to see the video to believe that a sitting Minister; a 65 years old man gunning for the highest seat in his State, would be the immature one in a discussion with a 47-year- old.
“You are inconsequential!” “Go and start as a Councillor!” “What is your worth?” He kept bleating and bleating, talking over Sowore, busy interrupting him instead of focusing on what he intends to do for the people of Oyo State as Governor and how he intends to win the election. He was busy defending President Buhari instead of talking about his own gubernatorial campaign. Those who say he is newt-brained and just a puff of hot air are not too far from the truth. As an indigene of Oyo State and one who has publicly argued for the gubernatorial seat to be zoned to the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State (where Shittu is from), I was ashamed. The people of Oke-Ogun should not offer Shittu to our State. That’s one less candidate about whome we have to worry from that area. If they do, I will be one of those that will fight him to the hilt. He is the least qualified of all the candidates in the State.
By Abiodun Ladepo
Ibadan, Oyo State