Adewole: The value of fellowship

BY every standards, he is a rare breed. His lifestyle is in similitude of a candle burning itself up in order to give others light. He uses his voice for kindness, his ears for compassion, his hands for charity, his mind for the truth, and his heart for love and forgiveness. On this note, there can’t be celebratory staleness as far as the immediate past Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole is concerned. To those who are very familiar with him, he  could be likened to what Winston Churchill describes as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He is 66 years old today. With a rich mind, bristling with the rare combination of brilliance, confidence and compassion for humanity, Prof. Adewole is indeed the calm that defies storms. Like the mythological phoenix that resurrects from its own funeral pyre in a legendary circle of wonder and rebirth, he survives attacks without feeling the need to revenge nor demonize anyone for  his travails.

Recently, a friend of mine called and said “I have just read on social media the travails of your boss, Prof. Adewole, when he was the Health Minister in the hands of the former Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari. I learnt that Kyari denied him opportunity to carry out tasks, ordered him to take permission from the Ministry of Agriculture before procuring any medical equipment for any Nigerian hospital!”. When I sought Prof. Adewole’s reaction to this alleged revelation , hear his response, “Sunday, I am not going to say anything for two reasons: the man in question is no more, he can’t defend himself. Why should I now be talking about someone who is no longer able to defend himself? Again, when you are given an opportunity to serve, you don’t come out and be talking about all the challenges you encountered. All I can say is that, it is well with Nigeria.” How else does one describe a man of this candour who takes all terrible encounters in his stride, and with equanimity? Awesome you say? That is Prof. Adewole for you.

Even when I was in his house to review his performances shortly after leaving office as Health Minister, he never justified himself on the allegations of non performance in certain quarters, neither did he blame anybody. All he told me was “I thank President Buhari for giving me an opportunity to serve. Am I the only medical doctor among the 200 million Nigerians? I am grateful to God.” However, honour came his way last week as  the monarch of Japan, His Majesty Emperor Naruhito, conferred one of Japan’s highest national awards on Prof. Adewole. Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Mr Kikuta Yutaka, who made this known in a letter, disclosed that this year’s foreign recipient of the 2020 Spring Imperial Decorations goes to the former minister in recognition of his contributions towards strengthening bilateral relations between Japan and Nigeria, inter alia, in the health sector. Mr. Yutaka noted that Adewole helped in reinforcing the Japan-Nigeria partnership in the area of health and the procurement of polio vaccines for the National Polio Immunisation Campaign for children under 5 years in Nigeria with support from the Japanese government. “This action has kept Nigeria free of the wild polio virus since 2016.

Again, during his ministerial position, Prof. Adewole made unrelenting efforts to receive the approval of the Government of Japan in 2017 and 2018 to donate 48 fully equipped medical ambulances to the Ministry of Health of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.These ambulances were subsequently distributed to every state of the Federation as well as the FCT. Now with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the services of these ambulances has become invaluable. For example, in Lagos State the ambulance has been used to resuscitate and transport COVID-19 patients to treatment centres,”  Mr Yutaka stated. Professor Adewole is a gregarious fellow. He is a man of the people. He radiates so much zest in fellowship and the cultivation of acquaintanceship. He is a powerful network specialist. He connects easily and flows with you as if he had known you for years. Crisp, professional and confident about his capacity to embrace pains as fuel meant to be burned for the journey, this gynecologist of note does his job with managerial panache, with an uncanny capacity  to dream and dare. Yet, he comports himself in a way that conforms to the tenets of civilized conduct.He is intensely motivated, dogged, relentlessly inventive and remorselessly tenacious.

He was concluding his five-year single tenure as the 11th Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan in 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him Health Minister. Prof. Adewole was born on 5th May, 1954. He attended Ilesa Grammar School from 1966-1972 . And even at that tender age he was a role model to his schoolmates on account of his good conduct, exemplary character and exceptional brilliance. He obtained Grade 1 with Distinction in his West African School Certificate in 1970 and scored AAC grades at the Higher School Certificate Examination in 1972. He enrolled as a National Award Scholar at the University of Ibadan in 1973. He obtained his MB BS degree in 1978, winning the Glaxo Allenbury Prize for the best overall performance in Pediatrics. He underwent further medical training in Nigeria, becoming a Senior Registrar in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, in 1984. He then proceeded to the United Kingdom for a Research Fellowship in the Department of Medical Oncology at Charing Cross Hospital in London. He obtained the Fellowship of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (FMCOG) in May 1986 and the Fellowship of the West African College of Surgeons (FWACS) in January 1994. He became the UI VC December 1, 2010

  • Saanu ( is with the University of Ibadan



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