By Scroll report Lagos, Nigeria.
Interview with Dr. Omolola Omoteso
Scroll Report: May I meet you?
I am Dr. Omolola Omoteso, a woman of many parts. I am privileged to have obtained a number of certificates and degrees within and outside Nigeria including Curriculum Planning Certificate, Bachelors in Philosophy, Masters in International Affairs (Communication and Development) and Doctorate in Biblical Counselling. I am amongst other roles a media/social media consultant, communication specialist, public affairs analyst and social advocate with a passion for developing people… I’m a journalist and book writer too. I have authored 7 books including ghost written and authored titles.
Scroll Report: What is the full meaning of SAN?
SAN means Solidarity Action Network (SAN). Solidarity Action Network is a league of professionals focused on real positive change, good governance and better life for Nigerians beginning with members! SAN is a tool for instilling righteousness aka integrity in the people and those in the corridors of power towards lasting change. When many hear SAN, they think about Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Ironically the name was coined to mimic this revered title held by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. The inspiration came from God as a way to initially support the candidacy of the VP during the elections. We are committed to instituting a culture of good governance and integrity in Nigeria through advocacy with those in the corridors of power and individualised concept of change, which begins with self. SAN addresses critical issues that affect Nigerians without discrimination. Some have called it a pressure group while others have called it a movement but the founders have called it a support medium for REAL change. We support the concept of change and have positioned ourselves to be the change we seek with regards to good governance in Nigeria. We have as members credible and disciplined Nigerians from all walks of life spread across the nation and beyond. Our vision is to be the reference standard for upright, non-partisan and non-sectional thoughts, initiatives, projects and actions. Our mission is to empower members to individualise change, become nationally conscientious, commit to repairing institutions, drive accountability beginning with self and advocate for good governance in order to reap the rich benefits in Nigeria. To join, prospective members are required to send a request and have at least two members in right standing vouch for their integrity.
Scroll Report: Tell us what the event is all about?
The event is a partnership between four groups including Genotype Foundation. Our upcoming event scheduled for February 11, 2017 by 9AM is themed Prayer and Advocacy Walk Against Medical Negligence and Cares to Street Children. We are doing it in memory of lives lost to preventable medical mistakes. We plan to gather at Ikeja Airport Hotel for a short talk and prayer before we head out. Registration will begin at 8AM during which participants will be registered and advocacy materials handed out. We will thereafter walk from the hotel to the point of advocacy in Allen. While en-route we will give out fliers about medical negligence and child abuse. At the point of advocacy, we would share our thoughts peacefully on medical negligence. Thereafter, we will move to under the bridge in Ikeja to care for street children. We have asked participants who can afford it to make a donation to cover tshirt, meal pack and cares pack to the street children. But those who cannot afford to donate may join us; they can wear a touch of white and wine tshirt. Members of Solidarity Action Network (SAN), members of Prayer Channel for Nigeria (PC4N, a group affiliated to SAN), friends of the Bola-Omoteso Memorial Watch (BMW) and all those who believe in this worthy cause are welcome to support as they deem fit.
Scroll Report: Who are you inviting?
We have invited many people from all walks of life including members of the 4 participating groups, the Vice President and the Former First Lady of Lagos State, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola. But you know how engaged these ones are. However, their support will come in handy to record success. That said, we are more concerned about the message being passed across than about making this a star studded walk. This interview is a great gesture and will help pass the message. We hope other media will pick it up too. We have a modest expectation of physical participation since this is the first time a walk against medical negligence is going on in Nigeria to the best of our knowledge. We are looking at 25 ad-hoc staff members, 75 walkers and 100 children (total 200). We plan to give packs containing food and other care items to participants and street children. It is sad that many big companies prefer to sponsor entertainment and related jamboree but those who find this cause worthy and would like to donate in kind and/or cash are welcome to reach us with details via [email protected].
Scroll Report: What do you hope to achieve?
Our walk is not against the government though definitely policies will aid our demands. We want to draw the attention of relevant agencies e.g. Nigeria Medical Association to the issue of medical negligence. Most importantly, we want to inform Nigerians to be aware that they can mitigate medical negligence by asking questions and insisting that clinics, hospitals where their loved ones die process credible autopsy and death certificate. Many clinics refuse to do so, so as not to be seen as having a high death rate. If they issue or process death certificates then their death rates will be a cause for concern but they prefer to deceive the public. I once heard of a doctor who cried privately like a baby following the death of an elderly man under his watch. A junior colleague had given the wrong anaesthesia, which led to the man’s death but it was explained away to the family as age factor when in actual fact it was not. We have situations where doctors go for private practice and leave inexperienced doctors to attend to their patients leading to casualties. I have once witnessed a pregnant woman who delivered her baby on the floor at General Hospital Lagos about 6 years ago. What happened? She was brought in as an emergency case but the medical doctor on duty was SLEEPING! The nurses appeared busy doing nothing and I started praying and asked the woman’s mother to start praying as the medical practitioners cannot help her. When the doctor woke up and asked, he was told, “It was a breech, we took care of it… No record.” All attempts to develop and publish the story was rebuffed, unfortunately I was not aware of any reporting medium. We hope the walk will draw attention to the need for a bureau to investigate care and deaths, just like the Office of the Public Defender. Yes in the case of death, everyone wants to blame everyone but some cases are clearly cases of negligence. For instance, in my beloved ones case the clinic unknown to us did not have an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which is very necessary due to the high risk of ailment they treat. Worst still, there was no ambulance driver when his situation required movement to a better facility. He may not have died if an ICU was in place or if a driver was on hand to move him.
Scroll Report: Is this the first time you are organising this event?
I have been involved with many advocacy events especially for children, young people and the unmarried including widows but the advocacy against medical negligence is happening for the first time as I mentioned. The care for street children is something we have done in different ways before now. Few years before the Federal Government came up with the School Feeding Programme, we were part of a Mid-Day Meal Project and Sandals for Soles Vision to Primary School Students in Ogun State. We have organised many programmes for children during which we care, counsel and feed. We have held career conferences for youths and projects and research at orphanages and remand homes. But this is taking us to the street children who unfortunately have become a part of our society. This will not just be care by mouth; we will counsel them in groups about health, safety, education and the need to be prayerful. We need all hands on deck to achieve success in both programmes.