First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu
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Omega Promotions, our gospel music club held a successful concert on Saturday the 28-3-87. A lot of meetings, prayers, poster pasting with starch took place. Over the years I had placed so many posters up that sometimes I superimposed new posters on the ones I had put up the previous year due to a lack of space.
On Wednesday 20-5-87 there was a riot on Ugbowo campus. By the next day, campus was flooded with Mobile Policemen who issued a directive for all to vacate the campus. In those days ‘word of mouth telecommunications’ spread like wide fire. I was soon at Ugbowo main gate holding out an outstretched arm for lifts to Lagos.
It wasn’t too long before we were recalled. By June Whitney Houston’s I wanna dance with somebody which was No1 in the UK was everywhere on campus. Well, everywhere but in my heart. My self-made tune was I wanna read with somebody.
I had four papers to pass and it was time to show myself I was born to do this. Jacking, hyper jacking, coffee drinking and Kola nut chewing. I read those books. Jolly for paeds, Ten teachers for O&G, and then Macleod’s clinical diagnosis and Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine for internal medicine and the almighty Bailey and Love for surgery. It was pure kamikaze jacking. To the death. That MBBS must be obtained at all costs. The four obstacles occupied my mind always. Hall 3 Room F 36 was my last room in Uniben. Pastor Efe, Obaro and I. Third floor with a balcony view of Hall Four’s Roofs. (Nothing to write home about).
A few postings had gone under the bridge namely Ophthalmology (where mention of Glaucoma made me twitch as it had taken my father’s sight), Radiology where Dr Odita proved to be so diligent. He once put up an X-ray and said ‘this patient eats snakes’. I thought he had at this stage left medicine and had become a Witch Doctor. The viewing room was dark and spooky. He looked at the X-ray films like one deep in divination and asked his students to see what he saw. For where?? We think say the man don craze.
‘Pentastomiasis caused by Pentastomes…’ on and on he went. I hate snakes and in that dark room I shifted my legs off the floor in case the snakes heard their names and decided to bless us with their presence.
ENT with the tuning forks and antral washouts and then urology put me off. There was an antral wash out I watched which almost made me pass out. It was like driving a hot poker up the patient’s nose. The anaesthetic appeared to have expired in 1935. Then there was a change of suprapubic catheter we watched. It was pure torture for the patient and when the metallic instruments went in through the lower abdomen into the bladder, the urine stench was straight from a thousand Lagos gutters full of dead mammals. All my olfactory nerves went into shock.
As young students, we just stood in our white coats immobilised by fear as pondering the mental state of the residents displaying their skills. (At least I felt so)
Suddenly I had made the 230 Km road trip to Lagos by road as the University was closed due to an incident I cannot recall. The whole of July 1987 was spent reading and going to fellowship (Christ Chapel Lagos). The boredom must have been severe for I found myself in the National Stadium Surulere attending the launch of MAMSER (Mass Mobilisation for Self-Reliance). It was entertainment which had no bearing on the populace. The President arrived by 11.30am and drove around the stadium in an open jeep waving to the crowds. Tony Mommoh read a speech followed by The President Ibrahim Babangida. There is a certain novelty associated with looking at the most powerful man in the country. The Nigerian army Gymnastic troupe, traditional dancers from Kana and Cross River state entertained till Christie Essien and Sonny Okosuns closed the show. Then it was back to high prices and a high crime rate society. Mamser brought bad luck as our U 16 team crashed out to the Soviet Union at the Fifa World Cup Final in Toronto that night.
Those from the campus Fellowship Word Foundation visited each other most days.
Monday 5am 17-8-87 I was up and off to Ojota to board a vehicle for Benin as the University was now opened. The examination fever was severe. People began to lose weight as we all went into ‘hyper-jacking mode’. Malaria was rife as all the body’s resources where expended on reading and worrying leaving little strength to fight diseases.
The next week saw two accidents involving members of our Christian fellowship. Austin got knocked unconscious following an accident and on the 31-8-87 we were informed that Smith was in the Specialist Hospital following an automobile accident. Off we went to see her.
By Wednesday 2-9-87 I had Cellulitis on my forehead area and was on antibiotics. Still had to read through puffy eyelids.
Saturday 5-9-87 was the send forth party in Word Foundation Fellowship. No matter how much one smiled and danced you knew at the back of your mind that this send-off could prove untrue should one fail anyone of the Big Four’ (would mean returning to re-sit the exams next year). A bit like those send-off parties that were rife in the 80s for young people emigrating to the UK armed with a 6-month visa. A few were bounced back without being allowed to see even one London red bus sef.
I worried with anticipated embarrassment
My diary entries for this make or break period tell it all
Wednesday 9-9-87 2pm Medicine theory
Thursdays10-9-87 9am Surgery theory paper
Tuesday 15-9-87 Surgery clinicals. Long case BPH. Short case with Akumabor and Elebosunum.
Viva with Osime, Ogisi and a Prof from Enugu
Thursday 17-9-87 Medical clinicals Efe gave me N1 to eat
Long case – Obas, Ojugwu and external examiner
Short cases – external examiner
Viva KBJ and Olu F.M
Results for medicine and Surgery exams came out on Thursday 24-9-87. We were ecstatic to have passed but while my classmates called each other Doctor this and Doctor that, Wilson was just plain old Wilson.
Back to the grind. I went for a meeting with Dr Nwabineli our O&G lecturer which was to plan our revision for the resit. Went to Warri to see Aunty Rose and Uncle Fred that same day for three days.
Monday 28-9-87 when to Dr Nwankwo’s office to register my name for something. He was our paediatric lecturer.
Jolly and Ten Teachers followed me everywhere. The tension was a bit much. Glad for the distraction of travelling to Kaduna for the wedding of Ada and Charles. Ada was an alumnus of Omega Promotions. This was our first wedding. Enate, Tosin, Millicent and I were off on Thursday 1-10-87. As usual we went with notes to read on the journey.
Friday 2-10-87 off to Leventis stores to buy wrapping paper
Saturday 3-10-87 beautiful service at St Christopher Church Kaduna officiated by David Oyedepo.
Sunday 4-10-87 back to Benin and exam fever resumed.
Thursday 15-10-87, 9am Theory paper O&G
2pm Theory Paper Paediatrics
The clinical exam sessions were peculiar experiences. The long case was similar to taking a last minute penalty at the World Cup. Get it wrong and you are finished. You get left alone with the patient for about twenty minutes and then the examiners came to grill you. After a few candidates, the patients learn the questions and the examiners get bored and start to repeat themselves. ‘Kind’ patients coach you on the right way to take the history and what is important in the physical examination!
The short cases were like five penalty kicks. A miss could be afforded. The Viva, was direct questioning. Our lecturers were larger than life icons. They asked you questions and your brain could freeze. They were good natured and helped you to relax and find your footing. In Paeds Dr Nwankwo asked me about Dactylitis in Tuberculosis. My brain stayed frozen for three weeks thereafter. The saving grace was that I had answered a few questions before that.
Wednesday 21-10-87 was the day that was. The list was out in the School of medical sciences. It was one of those long walks from Hall 3 that you took alone. This was the kind of day where your mother could be telling the neighbours you were a student in the morning and telling them you were a Doctor by evening.
The smiles followed by hugs followed naturally. We called one another Doctors for the first time as it sunk in that the years of hard work and drama had crystalized into this one moment of sweet victory.
Monday 26-10-87 registered with the Nigerian Medical Association.
Tuesday 27-9-87 Interviewed at the Specialist Hospital Benin
Most of November was spent painting floral patterns in rooms; Mobo’s fledging business. Enate and I were his assistants and we had to share 10% of revenues, and the money kept pouring in.
Word Foundation Fellowship had a big outreach programme billed Pneuma- Force which we rehearsed for in the evenings.
Monday 23-10-87 found out I had been posted to Central Hospital Warri and was not too pleased.
Tuesday 24-10-87 Went to Warri to do the necessary paperwork at the hospital
Saturday 28-10-87 Pneuma- Force night. A theatrical production of mime and dance while a narrator went through the story of the Bible. This was my last time on the stage at the Main Auditorium in Ugbowo campus. The finale was a well-received dance that had everybody on their feet.
Then the lights came on and it was time to preach to the packed-out audience. One guy shouted Courtttt!!!! But the young preacher for the night Chris Oyakhilome raised his hands up and said ‘nobody move’. He preached and no one moved till he did an altar call and people began to drift towards the stage. We just could not believe that the crowd did not vacate the building when the rallying cry of ‘court!!!’ was sounded.
The next day I went to Warri and on Monday 30-11-87 I was on duty as a House Officer in the department of O&G at Central Hospital Warri.