FCMB founder hands over pediatric hospital to UI, UCH
•Recounts day he wept over allegation of blood rituals against him
Founder of First City Monument Bank, (FCMB) and philanthropist, Otunba (Dr.) Michael Olasubomi Balogun has signed an agreement handing over the Otunba Tunwase National Pediatric Centre (OTNPC) to be jointly managed by the University of Ibadan (UI) and University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.
The signing of the agreement which was held in Lagos on Saturday between the Vice-Chancellor of UI, Prof Idowu Olayinka and Chief Medical Director of UCH, Prof Abiodun Otegbayo and other signees was aimed at resuscitating the ailing OTNPC in line with the vision of its founder.
The OTNPC is a world-class healthcare facility for infants built on 50 acres of land along Sagamu-Benin Expressway way.
Speaking on the importance of the agreement, Otunba Balogun disclosed that it is to ensure that all parties to the agreement contribute to the smooth running of affairs of the pediatric Centre to return it to its glory days.
The doyen of Nigeria’s banking and finance industry, revealed, “The last one year of signing this agreement has been traumatic. I must say, it was only the Almighty God’s grace that saved me.
Certain individuals have gone the extra mile to make this day a reality. I will like to commend the VC of University of Ibadan, Chief Medical Director of UCH and the Provost of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and all of you here for sharing in the anxiety to bring OTNPC back to what it used to be.
“On my 60th birthday in 1994, I built this referral tertiary hospital for health care services, teaching and research into all aspects of child health.
“Upon the completion, we considered who to hand it over to and the first Provost of OTNPC, Prof. Adenike Grange suggested that it should be handed over to the University of Ibadan. She assured me that if it was given to the University of Ibadan, the University College Hospital will definitely be involved in its running. She said while the UCH handled the clinical part, UI will involve in academic research to bring the centre into the world terrain.
“I didn’t know that there was any dichotomy between UI and UCH. I wasn’t aware that UI is a separate entity from UCH and that UCH is owned by the government.
“We had in place all the facilities required for the delivery of world-class healthcare for residents. Student paediatricians were in place to engage in research work. In spite of this, things have not been running smoothly according to my dream. I was worried.
“On several occasions, the Chief Medical Director would inform me of staff rebellion. “Subsequently, medical staff and patients were all leaving. At first, I thought it was something ephemeral and that everything will be alright. My understanding had been that UCH will be fully involved in the running of affairs at the OTNPC.
“The saddest part of it all was when my wife received a WhatsApp message. I wish I could read it here. In the message, I was praised that I built a state-of-the-art pediatric hospital in Nigeria and that for one reason or the other the medical experts working at the hospital and patients have deserted the place because I was using the blood of the children to increase my wealth.
“I broke down in tears the day I got that message. I knelt down in prayer to the good Lord to help me. And thank God, the good Lord answered our prayer.
“I therefore want to appeal to the VC and CMD to work collectively to resuscitate the OTNPC to meet the yearnings of the founder of the place.
“When I decided to give OTNPC to Ibadan, people raised the alarm because OAU and Babcock University wanted it too.
“But because of my association with the UI as well as UCH, I felt I was safe. I am appealing to all of you for the sake of God and humanity and the children born and unborn, the UI and UCH are together and should work as one to revive the hospital.”
Otunba Balogun further disclosed that the chairmanship of OTNPC will be rotational for a specified term between UI and UCH for any part not to be seen as an underdog.
He said, “UCH should oversee the day-to-day running while UI will engage in research and other academic works. Let us keep our eyes on OTNPC. We should not allow a lofty idea of a patriotic individual to be destroyed. I want us to bring back the old glory as both UI and UCH to take over the place.
“The knotty point which can cause any delay has been sorted out by the grace of God. The chairmanship will be rotated between UI and UCH so that it doesn’t appear that anybody is seen as an underdog.”
Responding, Vice-Chancellor of University of Ibadan, Prof Idowu Olayinka commended Otunba Balogun for building a world-class pediatric centre.
According to the VC, there is no crisis situation. He stated that the issue at hand is just an administrative procedure, adding that “Otunba Balogun donated the OTNPC to the University of Ibadan about a decade ago.
“But we have been facing structural problems as to how to provide clinical and medical services to inhabitants which has been addressed with the signing of memorandum of understanding and agreement. Basically, three units are involved which are University of Ibadan and its college of medicine and the UCH. There hasn’t been any crisis but just of disagreement as a result of human factor.
“The resolution is that we have signed an agreement which will be effective from October 1. The agreement will enable all parties involved to contribute to the smooth running of the OTNPC. “The UCH will provide clinical services while our students will be involved in clinical activities as part of their training. Everything has been sorted out. There is no hiccup again.”
A co-signee in the agreement, Prof Abiodun Otegbayo appreciated Otunba Balogun for his passion and resilience towards building a medical facility of excellence for children and other categories of patients.