Association of Medical Students University of Lagos (AMSUL) is the umbrella body of students of medicine and surgery in the Univerisity of Lagos. UNILAG Press Club correspondents; OSONWA IRUOMA AND JUNAID SALAMAH met with the President and he has this to say:
AS THE PRESIDENT OF AMSUL, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND TELL US ABOUT YOUR DEPARTMENT?
My name is IDIO UDUAK, a 600 level MBBS student. I am the President of the Association of Medical Students University of Lagos (AMSUL), AMSUL has been in CMUL (COLLEGE OF MEDICINE) for over fifty (50) years. This year makes it the fifty-first year anniversary. It was basically the only medical student association in College of Medicine for so many years before the formation of College of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Science Students Association (COMPSSA). The association is the paramount and leading association in every aspect of student life, from sports to research, academics etc. The basic objectives passed down to every executive body are to cater for the welfare of MBBS students and also to have a greater impact on our society via outreaches and symposia.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND RUNNING FOR THE POSITION OF PRESIDENT?
Ok! I will say that I have always had a desire to serve, from my diploma days serving my class mates, but when I got here my main inspiration were some people which I would mention just a few here, firstly Dr ABDULRAHEEM BABARINDE (berberhymes) his zeal and passion for AMSUL was unrivaled, Dr IDIAKOH IYARE, Dr OLOKODANA BANJI, Dr ADEBESHIN TOLU (VP when I was pro), then UMAR ADEGOKE. They inspired me to go for this post, because as at last year when I was General Secretary, the work was very tedious and the year was challenging due to the fact that it was the 50th anniversary and things were not forthcoming, in spite of all these I felt students deserved better communication and leadership and I thank GOD that up till now I haven’t failed in my duties and every class has had a feel of AMSUL.
WHAT PREVIOUS POSTS HAVE YOU HELD OR WHAT SERVICES HAVE YOU RENDERED AS A STUDENT?
I represented my class in 200 as a congress man (elected), AMSUL P.R.O in 300/400, then AMSUL General Secretary in 400/500. I have also been a delegate for FAMSA G.A in Benin 2015, I have also served in several committees in COMPSSA and NIMSA.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE?
I have several actually, but the one that gets me going is not exactly a quote per say, when you keep doing things the same way don’t expect a different result, you should be open to ideas. Another one is never stop trying no matter what.
WHAT WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND WHAT ARE YOUR ACHEIVEMENTS SINCE YOUR TENURE BEGAN?
We have achieved a lot to my surprise. There have been a lot of programs that have come up that we have accommodated and AMSULITES have been very participative which I really appreciate. There are some aspects of school activities our students get involved in; social, academics, research and entrepreneurship. The realization of these expectations so far has really been encouraging. There is more to be done so I am looking forward to them.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED?
WOW! They are enormous, let me just group them. We have challenges from school management, even Amsulites themselves and challenges from sponsors and alumni. School management recently stopped us from using the school transport for social events and using external transport is very expensive and dangerous to the students. There are some new restrictions which I think might be due to the frictions between COMPSSA and the school management which is now extending to the other student bodies. Then from our alumni and sponsors, well I am not too sure, but I know Nigeria is out of recession (LAUGHS) and yet it is still very difficult to get financial support from them, most of our alumni are resident doctors, they complain of delayed payment of salary, so most of our events are being challenged by funds. Honestly if we had a strong alumni body, AMSUL should be doing better than LAW society because we have existed long before them. Now from AMSULITES, it has always been what is AMSUL giving us and not what can we do for AMSUL, there is no balance at all, honestly this “shoe is not sizing me anymore”(LAUGHS). If all AMSULITES told their parents each about AMSUL and they decide to donate to the association, it would go a long way in reducing our financial problem. Right now the expectations don’t match the resources but by GOD’s grace we would overcome the challenges.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR AMSUL?
I want to see a self-sustained AMSUL, every executive year has a limited time to solve the issue, then an AMSUL that is well dedicated to not just welfare of students or LUTH community but be a convener of health policies.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP STATUS?
LAUGHS…. I am single but not single
SORRY WE DON’T UNDERSTAND
I am dating someone.
SO ASIDES AMSUL WHAT OTHER THINGS DO YOU HAVE GOING ON?
I am working with several doctors for outreach volunteering, I am an outreach person.
WE SHOULD BE EXPECTING YOU TO SPECIALIZE IN PUBLIC HEALTH?
No! I don’t want it actually, it’s a nice thing but I like clinical medicine too. Actually I am not yet certain of what to do; most likely I would venture into politics, so don’t be too surprised when I end up as something in NMA.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN/LEISURE?
Well! I used to read for fun but not anymore, I watch movies, I go out with that special person *winks*
Laughs… my girl friend, I also like sports.
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE BEING A STUDENT AND STILL PLAYING YOUR ROLE AS PRESIDENT?
I think it’s more than a personal decision, I thought it was easy but it is actually difficult. You have to understand your reading pattern if not don’t try it, for me I can read anywhere. It’s just now that everybody understands because it’s not just the president, every executive has to realize that the period they are serving, they are not themselves, they are AMSUL. The balance is to know your reading time, sleeping time, when to convene meeting, make sure meeting is focused and actually pray because God is an important factor.
LOOKING BACK AT THE THINGS YOU MENTIONED IN YOUR MANIFESTO, RATE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SO FAR ON A SCALE OF 1-10.
I would score myself an 8 even though I was expecting to score myself a 6 at this time but so far I see that a lot of people are interested in the running of the administration, that shows how much we have done to get their interest. I would wait for health week before the final rating.
WHAT MORE SHOULD THE DEPARTMENT EXPECT FROM YOU BEFORE THE END OF THE TENURE?
By God’s grace we are working to kick start some underground projects that we are not ready to spill, the first aid team is about to start, then also working with a company to release a tablet that contains medical journals that can help medical student and they get to pay in installments. This year we are planning to launch the website, we have bought the domain, designs are ready but we are trying to still put some items on it e.g. voting through it, buying text books etc then work with a “ybc” class to organize a basic life skills training. These are the only things we are looking at asides the normal things we do like health week dinner.
ANY COLLABORATION WITH OTHER DEPARTMENTS, FACULTIES, SCHOOLS OR SCHOOL MANAGEMENTS?
We have had several, one with human rights agenda, de-worming exercise was in collaboration with community health department, and we have had collaboration with student’s affairs. We are still expecting more e.g. for the outreach during health week we plan to expand the depression outreach and work with psychiatric department , even for the interclass project we plan to meet with engineering department, we hope it turns out good.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ABOUT THE MANAGEMENT, THE NEW RULES IN THE SYSTEM AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE STUDENTS
I will answer this in two ways, one as a COMPSSAITE and secondly as an AMSUL president. As the president, I do not know the reasons some of these rules are made. They are mothers and fathers and have our best interest at heart, yet I feel there should be a place for consultation with the students before notices are put up. Not just COMPSSA … Some of the rules are okay but I think some should be reviewed. I am very hopeful that things would get better.
SINCE YOU HAVE VESTED INTEREST IN POLITICS, IF YOU WERE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO VENTURE INTO POLITICS WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT LEADERSHIP IN NIGERIA?
First the view our leaders have is quite different from that of the student leaders, which is the masses before you. Their salary structure needs to be reviewed. Imagine collecting more than half of the national budget as salary! It is even a shame that our president has to travel out of the country to get healthcare. If I become the president, I would pay attention to the basic things like education, health, energy in just a year. Look at the educational system for instance; our literacy rate is very low. We need to invest more in education. This would lead to good employment rate. The hygiene practices would also be improved among the masses. We have enough money to solve these problems. Not paying the senators’ bills for security or unnecessary things.
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU
People don’t know I crack a lot of dry jokes *LAUGHS* I used to be a comedian in my diploma days, but it seems like Medlag has taken my joy. I am also very meticulous. I like sticking to time and dancing too.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO ASPIRING STUDENT LEADERS?
It is basically about passion. If you don’t have passion, you are not goal driven and your agenda is not to serve people, then there is no place for you. As a leader you have to be very dogged, be flexible but don’t be easily swayed. You have to be people oriented so as to carry them along. Trust me, reading fifty leadership books would not really help. The practical is more important. You must have even been a follower before you can lead others. Like a friend of mine said; it is how well you have followed that would determine how best you would lead. I never expected to be the president but it was the passion and drive for AMSUL over the years that built this desire. You can’t just jump from “nowhere” to become a leader so be a follower first.