A chat with a medical doctor cum lawyer and also NCCMDS first ever National President is an editor’s delight any day. The charming, unassuming and humble father of 3 had a tete-a-tete with UBST Editor, Akinsiku Fiyinfoluwa, where he talked about life as NCCMDS Founding President and sundry issues. Enjoy!
Good day sir.
Good day, Fiyin.
You look younger sir. The last time I saw you was during my Freshers’ Welcome in February 2006 in UNIBEN. People age by the day but you are getting younger by the day.
(laughs) Fiyin, I don’t know o. But I try my best to serve my God and He gives me peace. When you have peace, a lot of things go in your favour.
That’s the way sir. Can I meet you?
I’m David Udiyiwe Iyamu. I attended Edo College, Benin City; then Federal School of Science, Benin, and University of Lagos between 1978 and 1984. I did my house job in Eku Baptist Hospital, Eku, Delta State in June 1984-1985. I did my NYSC in 1985/1986. I worked for two years and came back home in 1988. I worked in Ben-Oni-Hospital, and then tried to do my residency in University of Benin Teaching Hospital. I was in the Department of Medicine for 2 years but I didn’t fit into the system so I left to start my clinic. That was in 1992. Before then, I had passed my primaries in Medicine and General Practice. I could do some surgeries because of my experience in Eku, so that was my backup. So I was doing general practice; surgeries I couldn’t do, I called my friends that were Consultants in other fields to help out. Then I went ahead to study law…..
(Cuts in) you mean you read law?
Dr. Iyamu: Yes
Editor: Oh my God! For 5 years?
Dr. Iyamu: (laughs) Yes! When I left UBTH, my mum was on my neck. She wanted me to go back to do my Postgraduate studies. She didn’t go to school o, but I don’t know how she knew about residency. My younger brother is in the US and I said, “Ok mum, I’d make arrangement with my younger brother so that I can join him there but if it doesn’t click, I’d go back to my residency.” I was able to convince her. My friends came to see me one day and advised me to go to UNIBEN for Law. I did, and studied Law part time for 6 years. At a point, I almost gave up. I travelled and couldn’t attend classes or write exams. In fact, I had an extra year because the school wasn’t recording my scores anymore, it wasn’t my fault. But in the end, I graduated, went to Law School and I’m a lawyer now.
Editor: Sir, you mean you are qualified Medical Doctor and also a Qualified Lawyer?
Dr. Iyamu: (laughs) Yes!
Editor: (laugh) Sir I can’t imagine myself being a Doctor and a Lawyer at the same time. You are so amazing.
Dr. Iyamu: (laugh) You could do better.
Editor: So, how old are you sir?
Dr. Iyamu: I was born in 1954, so I’m 55.
Editor: So, your family life?
Dr. Iyamu: I met my wife in Federal School of Science. Then, we were both members of ECU. Then we were like a family. You know this brother-sister thing. After then, I left for UNILAG to study Medicine while she went o UNIBEN to study Education. After then, we met in NIFES Conference, Zaria 1981. I asked her if she was engaged and her reply was “why are you asking me? Unknown to her, what she was asking was “where have you been?” So after then, we didn’t see again. It was at that conference that NCCMDS was first conceived. By the time I was travelling from state to state visiting medicals schools, I heard that she was serving in Onitsha, so I visited her on my way. That was in 1984. I handed over 1983 and finished in 1984. By then, it was becoming obvious that we were getting closer though I hadn’t told her anything or made my intentions known. My advice for young ones, pray with an open mind. For the guys, when you like someone and you pray about her and you get the go ahead, don’t go and tell her that God said you are my wife or the Holy Spirit said……, no, no, no. I told my wife that I think about her all the time and told her to pray about it. That was 1985. I was a Corper and she was already working. I got married during NYSC. My children are grown. I have three. The first one, Ruth just graduated from UNIBEN, studied Anatomy, going to serve now and going back to study medicine. The other one, a boy studied Computer Science. He couldn’t study Medicine because his dad is not always at home. The other girl is in SS3 now. She talks a lot and may end up studying Law or Mass Communications.
Editor: so sir, what do you do with your Law Certificate? Do you go to court now?
Dr. Iyamu: Yes, not for the money though. I go to court for interest and to defend some people’s interest. If the students have a case in the court now, I can represent them without pay. In law, there are rules like; you can’t practice two professions at the same time. For now I’m practising medicine. I can go to court for CMDA but I’m not going to be paid. There is a case I handled, it was about my community. An oil company came and the community was divided. So, we went to court, sued the company and when in court I was introduced as Dr. Iyamu. The Judge was so nice. He was surprised. He said he had seen very few doctors who go ahead to study law after medicine. If not for that, we would have lost the case. So, by and large, it was settled amicably in our favour. Right now, I’m settling a friend’s land dispute in court.
Editor: you were founding National President in 1981?
Dr. Iyamu: Yes, 81/82 and also 82/83. I served twice.
Editor: So, how was it then?
Dr. Iyamu: It was tough. We left NIFES Conference in Jun/July 1981. I was preparing for 2nd MB then. I didn’t know what was happening. Someone just called and said we would have a meeting of Christian Medical Students. People that invited me were my senior in Medical School then; Timothy Edeki, Philip Olatunji. After everything, I was asked to be the National President. I wasn’t prepared for it. UBTH, ABUTH, UCTH, UPTH, UCH students were all there. Here was I a medical student just preparing for 2nd MB and I was made President. I had to travel all over the country to mobilize students. Good enough then, we had money; exchange rate was about 60-65 kobo to 1 dollar.
Editor: Wow! Now it’s about N150 to 1 dollar.
Dr. Iyamu: Yes! When I was leaving school, it was about 80kobo to 1 dollar. When I was doing my NYSC, it was N1 to 1 dollar. God just brought people with like minds together. We had money and ideas. That was how we came up with the idea of electing the President, General Secretary and Financial Secretary from the same school. Why? So as to facilitate the transfer of money. so when I had to travel from our base, LUTH, to like UCH, from UCH to UITH, UCH paid for that trip, from UITH to JUTH, UITH paid, from JUTH to UMTH, JUTH paid, etc. In schools where there were fellowships that had Medical Student as Presidents, the reception was very hostile. The medical student presidents though that we had come to create a new fellowship or to snatch their members, but that wasn’t true. So, it was difficult to penetrate them. Or even in cases where they wanted to accept us, other members would complain and say “oh is it because he’s a medical student?” It was hostile, really. And I told them our course is unique. After you guys in other departments have gone on break, we need meet together and fellowship. We care for human beings. When I place my hand on my patient, how hard, how soft, how tender is that hand? It’s in NCCMDS that we can talk about that. We had to integrate year 1 students into the vision, organize conferences, etc. And all that put together with my studies, it wasn’t easy.
Editor: And how were you able to combine that effectively with your academics?
Dr. Iyamu: That was when I develop the habit of reading on the road. I mean, reading while travelling. Travelling took time but it was an interesting adventure. Looking back now, I thank God for it. I just surrendered myself to God and He used me.
Editor: I hope it didn’t affect your academics?
Dr. Iyamu: It didn’t because in all my years in medical school, I never had a re-sit except once. That wasn’t because I failed, but because our HOD failed us intentionally. We offended him and he offended us too. We were doing three postings in Medicine: basic, intermediate and senior. We were supposed to write tests at the end of each posting. Then Prof. Akinyanju was HOD. Two days to a major exam, he told us to write a test. We students were angry and decided to boycott the test. Only nine did the test and only those nine passed. We were supposed to finish in January/February but we finished in April. I always passed. You know when you do something for the Lord; He doesn’t just leave you alone; if you are able to read something, it stays. How much marks are needed? Just 50 marks! I never had any reference, it was just that issue with Medicine.
Editor: Sir, you know what faith were those days and what it is these days. Could you compare?
Dr. Iyamu: It’s actually a generational and dispensational problem. We caused the problems you guys face these days. How? We didn’t know the Lord the way those ahead of us knew Him. So we passed the little we knew on to your generation, Fiyin. In our time, we talked about holiness, love, forgiveness, righteousness; we didn’t talk much about prosperity, signs and wonders. Those things came and you guys left the real thing – holiness, love, righteousness etc. These days, people speak in tongues just the way they want it, not the way the Spirit leads. I don’t see it as your generation problem, Fiyin. I see it as my generation problem. We refuse to give you an in-depth knowledge of God’s word. More so, these days you are expose to internet and so many sources of distorted messages. The in LUTH, we had a place called THE EMBASSY. If you didn’t have money, you went there and ate for free. So, allow the Holy Spirit to teach you about His way and have a better understanding of the Scriptures. If not, the generation coming after you will be worse off, except God intervenes. These days, you don’t talk about holiness, love, faith. All you talk about is money, money; you seek miracle but you don’t seek the giver of miracles. Miracles are good, but miracles, prosperity are all additions. Seek the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness and all other thing would be added to it. Even if you have enough wealth, would you take it to heaven with you? Speak in tongue because the Holy Spirit is leading you and not because others are speaking and you don’t want to be the odd one out.
Editor: How do you view life?
Dr. Iyamu: Life, to me is an opportunity to help someone. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? Help someone! I have an NGO; it is called Zion Samaritan Caring Home. We treat beggars and orphan for free. Life is what you can give others, what you can impact on their lives and not how much you can get. Fiyin, that’s the truth. Being a doctor for example, you can’t be poor for life. So, life is about what you can give to others.
Editor: Finally, what advice do you have for us; I mean your parting words?
Dr. Iyamu: As a student, there are so many things you have to think about – who you are going to marry, what you want your career to look like. Keep praying about them – just keep praying “Lord, take me through my career, my marriage, my life, that my life will bring glory to you.” Face your studies. If you are an average student, you would pass. At your Consultant will rubbish you. It’s part of correction. Take to correction. They love you and want you to excel. So take it, its part of learning process. When I was a Junior Doctor, I trained under a white lady, Dr. Haygood, a consultant in O&G, very hardworking and intelligent; a single and tough lady who worked herself out. The first two days were hell. She shouted and shouted at me. I wasn’t happy and I accused her of racism. Later, we talked it over and became friends. When you see that your Consultant is always harassing you, get close to him/her and learn from them.
Editor: (laughs) Sir, thanks a lot. I enjoyed myself. Anyone reading this now would enjoy it. Thanks once again sir. Dr. Iyamu. Thanks for coming too, Fiyin (laughs)