WHY I LEFT NIGERIA…DR CHRIS IFEDIORA AUSTRALIA BASED NIGERIAN MEDICAL DOCTOR
Had exclusive interview session wit Dr Chris ifediora founder of Onyebuchi Chris ifediora foundation a man who understands the process of the Nigerian economic growth and developmental psychology….. please Read on
interviewed spring news international magazine online and hard copy
DR CHRIS WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO SET UP THIS GREAT FOUNDATION?
Well, Like I said before that I grow up in Nigeria, Like every other person will tell you there are thread to our ambitions, to your health … basically everything you do as a Nigerian. I face that myself and that’s why I left Nigeria. I left Nigeria because I felt there were treat to my ambitions. I have a medical background. I don’t know if I’ve told you… I am a medical practitioner. Through education as a young doctor in Nigeria I saw what happened in the hospitals. That’s why I said I have to leave because I can’t stay in social environment. But I also left because I felt I should be able to give back to the country from outside the country. So the idea for the foundation was there even before I left Nigeria. And that’s basically my way of fixing what I felt were the ills of the country. That is why you see what we do is fixed to a tripod … Education, Health and Social welfare … Cos these are the areas I felt we can make a difference on. To lift people on education.. Because I felt if we can get a lot of Nigerians as possible educated a lot of people can change. We can produce better politicians; better leaders… better health care managers. We also felt the health care system in Nigeria is not in the best of shape, people die so easily for instance what normally they shouldn’t die for. I saw that as a young doctor myself. So if we can do the little we can things might change a beat. We’ve just started so the foundation was born on that dream.. to change things a beat haven witness it many times. We’ve just started like I said… there’s still a lot more to be done and definitely we will get there
WITH ABOUT 36 STATES WITH DIVERS LANGUAGE IN TERMS OF ETHICS AND OTHER DIFFERENCES. UNITED NATION MAKE A RECENT REPORT SAYING THAT AN AVERAGE NIGERIAN HOME ON A DOLLAR PER DAY. ARE THERE HOPES OF BRINGING DOWN POVERTY IN TERMS OF PARTNERSHIP?
“It’s a tough question, It’s a big problem, Multi-faceted and it’s complicated … And If I said I can summarize it or give the Nigeria problems a solution in ten minutes then I will be lying… in fact my list will be exhausted because it’s comprehensive enough.
Haven said that, my thinking is if we can educated as many Nigerians as possible … not just going to school but educate their minds to think beyond tribal sentiments, Religious sentiments, affiliations, piety… as in… he’s my brother, she’s my sister. Tell them to think outside the box, find a way to change the statuesque. Things can change a lot. But beyond that the governments have a big role to play. In my view the government has the bigger role to play.
When I was in Nigeria in February to lunch this program with the NYSC. I saw a lot of youths… boys and girls… a lot of them meet me while I was in Nigeria all looking for help, I felt as helpless as they were. Because I realized that it’s the men and women in government that can make the change they needed. These are people that could change Nigeria in five years if you can stabilize the private sector, create jobs… you don’t even need to employ them, but give them the opportunity, give them light, give them security… These guys can innovate… they will change Nigeria. But they can’t do anything. I would have been in their position myself if I had not left Nigeria. Though I’m a doctor it would have been different. But what I’m trying to say is if you are going to cure poverty you need to create enabling environment for the youths to thrive… environment for the skill set we have in Nigeria. We are endowed… Out here I have a lot of friends. Not just doctors, doing fairly well. You won’t believe how much they are contributing to Australian growth in education, technology… just everything. These guys majority of them left Nigeria out of frustration. If you create enabling environment this guy will change Nigeria I can tell you that for free. You know we have the talents.
In my view, We need a government that can give us enabling environment, Give us light, give us security, and creates jobs and things will fall into place.
CHARLES UKOR, DR. CHRIS’ NIGERIA REPRESENTATIVE WAS WELCOME TO THE MEETING
DOCTOR, FOLLOWING A CASE STUDY OF OUR RESEARCH WITH THE NYSC CAMP IN IYANA-PAJA… PEOPLE EXITED TO HAVE PEOPLE LIKE YOU … YOU ARE A WELL INFLUENTIAL PERSONALITY, BUT WHY IS IT THAT WE DON’T SEE PERSONALITIES LIKE YOU IN PUBLIC SPACE VIEING FOR PUBLIC OFFICES?
Dr. laughs because that question has been asked. But then he thanks the anchor man for the research conducted and also agreed that when he came to Nigeria for the programme lunch. He actually saw the excitement in the faces of the young people added that he doesn’t know what they actually think. But he’s happy to get the feed back’
According to Dr. Chris,
“Political position. Like I said you are not the first person to ask about this… everybody seems to think that there’s a political dimension to what we are doing or that we should have a political dimension. But you see, but how do I put it we are in to make a change and if we can make the change outside politics I think it’s should be the best way to do it.
We engage politicians as you know and people that hold public offices because can’t do without them. We just get frustrated at times when they can’t buy to the views of the vision you have. But for now the whole idea is to get things done and we are getting these things done. So there’s no point going into politics alright. Like I said we leave politics to politicians. But they’ve been listening; they’ve been listening to what we do. I don’t know if you are aware that we are in the final stage of scaling through a number of bills in the national assembly and thanks to the politicians in that space. You know, getting the NYSC project done was also thanks to the politicians. People like the wife of the president.. Aisha Buhari, The wife of the vice president represented by Abeshino. So we deal with politician. But we are not politicians and we prefer to let it be that way for now
THANK YOU SO MUCH DOCTOR. SO IN TERMS OF FUNDING YOUR WONDERFUL FOUNDATION WHAT ARE THOSE CHALLENGES THAT YOU DO FACE?
“Funding is a big challenge in the world. We like more funding if it is available. We are very prudent in what we do and we have well defined goals. We channel the little funds we have in actualizing those goals. We’ve not done a lot of external funding, we don’t do fund drives… not that we wouldn’t like fund drive… I mean we haven’t gotten the stamina to chase people for funding. So the funding comes from here in Australia not even from external sources. Kind of a decent arrangement that I will not want to go into. But we have bigger projects that will require a lot more funds than we have. But if we have people who will like to partner or who have funds to make changes we have rooms for that. But haven said that we tried to design our programmes in such a way that whatever we do we try not to limit it to a subset of the country, we try to reach out to everyone. And I will tell you it becomes more expensive. For instance when we started our normal campaign of course it started in Anambra and we realized the effect of the changes we have in mind we decided it should be a national thing.. trying to reach every part of Nigeria…….
… every town, every state, LGA, every region… it becomes more expensive… but one advantage that we have is that everything we do is part through research. We research into our programmes. And maybe it’s because of my training starting from Nigeria, I have been trained in institutions in US, IN Europe. It gave one advantage that we have is that everything we do is part through research. We research into our programmes. And maybe it’s because of my training starting from Nigeria, I have been trained in institutions in US, IN Europe. It gave me that advantage that I can research and we have a strong team outside Nigeria that can help us evaluate whatever we do and what that does is that we will be able to find a way to do it in a sustainable way, cost effective way with much bigger impact than you can imagine.
Yes what we are doing is expensive, yes we are going to be needing more funding. But we will thrive the way we are. And we say these things have to be sustainable. So that the years to come this things will be there. It’s not going to go away. So for every project you see us take copies designed and to have a steady stream of fund to sustain it. Of course people want us to be bigger, but that’s where we will say no. because if we get bigger we lose the sustainable angle of what we do. I think that answered your question.
DOCTOR. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE SUCH AS DISCOURAGEMENT FROM FRIENDS AND LOVE ONES TRYING TO SET UP THE FOUNDATION?
“A lot, I wish I could share my screen … I do a lot of quotes, books and poems and all of that. One of my poems summarizes what happened when I was setting up this foundation.. I’ll get chance to share that with you … and that your biggest challenge in trying to do something good is not going to come from your enemies, not from your village people, not going to be from people who want to gone you down. The biggest threat will be from people who are close to you… your friends, your family… if you are married your wife/husband, your father/mother/children. Not because they want to run you down. Genuinely they do think about you. Just that they don’t have the passion you hold. They will have a different view and they are most likely the ones to stop you. The enemies can only wish you fail. They can’t do anything more than that… maybe they have a gun to shoot. But they can’t do more than that.
But those that can actually stop you are those who are close enough to influence your decisions… why I’m saying that is in order to answer your question. Of course some friends, family members believed some also skeptical… they will be like… what’s this going to be all about? Trying to fear, think and act for you.
Of course my answer was I know all of that… I didn’t drop from the moon. I grow up in Nigeria and I know what the system is like. But we have to do this because people are dying, I have classmate who were very brilliant though, but they didn’t go to medical schools, University and 20years later you connect with them on Facebook, on WhatsApp and found out that they dropout, they couldn’t go to school, no one to sponsor them. I saw that in school, I saw people die for things they shouldn’t die for. These makes me realized that we are messed up back home. You see things done differently here. So the passion was set and I told myself I must do this. Because I know people who are losing out if things are not done differently. So not everyone bought into the dream… the challenges were much and bigger because of that. We wear a very strong focus of what we want to do. And we took our time to convince those we have to convince and here we are everybody is on board
GREAT INSIGHT HERE… I MUST CONFESS THAT YOU ARE AN ORATOR. THAT’S WHY I WILL STILL PUSH FOR YOU TO COME INTO PUBLIC OFFICES… (LAUGHS). BUT MOVING ON, HOW WAS GROWING ON LIKE FOR YOU?
Hmmm! I grow up in Enugu from Anambra state Sugbe to be précised. A family of seven including Mum and Dad … Mom died early, I was not even up to 10. It was an average happy family. But after mum died things went rough… Single Dad training five children it became a beat difficult, really very difficult. Dad was much focused to cater to all of us. He believes a lot in education. He told us a lot about dignity in labor, told us about education … That if we get an education we will be fine – “Just get an education you will be fine”. That’s why we are doing what we doing in education. It was a good neighborhood very fun neighborhood throughout my primary, a special science school and after that to my University. Yeah! I’m still in touch with my childhood friends. It was fun a happy family a family of five we play together. The only problem was that we lost mum early but Dad stand in for that
WAW! SO TOUCHING…. COMPARING WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, HOW WOULD YOU RATE NIGERIA GOVERNMENT TACKLING POVERTY? DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING ENOUGH IN TERMS OF TACKLING POVERTY
It’s not a simple question. But I will try not to talk about the government it’s an open forum and Nigeria is politically charged. The truth is that Nigeria project needs to be recreated … since Independent Nigeria has been unlucky in terms of government… So tough tackling poverty … Now you see a lot of seemingly good ideologies behind their projects… but they never got the mentee
I have never been in government and cannot say why it’s like that. But I know there’s a lot to be done to change things. Poverty in my view is Nigeria’s biggest problem. Poverty fuels corruption, poverty fuels insecurity … you know what… if we can fix poverty we can fix Nigeria. That’s my view
LASTLY BEFORE WE GO, WHAT’S THE VISION, VISION, AIMS AND OBJECTIVES SETTING UP OCI FOUNDATION?
Okay, it’s quite simple, we try to fight inequalities. Inequalities in health, inequalities in Education and inequalities in social and public welfare
Our vision is also simple … we try to make sure that Nigerians of every tribe, gender, every age realizes his or her best potentials on health, education, social and public welfare
ALRIGHT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. YOU ARE A HANDSOME MAN, HOW DO YOU KEEP DISCIPLINE IN TERMS OF ADVANCES FROM LADIES?
I married a pretty woman. That’s it… It was deliberate for me to marry one of the prettiest of them and that kept me in checked. You have to find someone of great character. In fact she knows everything I do in terms of who comes with me, who I’m with, how I operate. Unlike most people they find it a beat odd… but I gave her access to everything from my password to my mails … just everything and that keep me in checked… because I just feel like being in checked
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NIGERIAN MEAL?
(Laughs) See, I only eat Nigerian food… I’ve been in overseas for over 15 years. But I’ve never been able to adapt to their foods here. That’s why I married a Nigerian an Igbo girl from Imo state. So I’m not very good in food. Do I really have any favorite? Not really, but then I eat rice, eba (garri). Any Nigerian food that is well cooked… I eat a lot of Isala soup… are you an Igbo?
YEAH! MY MUM IS FROM ENUGU STATE. YES I KNOW ISALA SOUP… BUT MY FAVORITE IS ACHI SOUP
If you know Nsala soup… my favorite is Nsala soup with pounded yam
WAW! YOU ARE MAKING ME SILIVATE HERE
But I have a lot of it in my fridge here and I do eat it a lot… most of my meals are Nigerian meals. You know they are well cooked
LASTLY BEFORE WE GO… WHAT’S YOUR PRICELESS POSITION IN LIFE?
Family… yes my family… wife and kids… Every other thing is an addition to it.
IF YOU HAVE TO TURN BACK THE HANDS OF THE CLOCK… WHAT IS THAT THING THAT YOU WOULD HAVE LOVE TO DO WELL THAT YOU DIDN’T DO WELL THEN?
I have been asked this questions a lot of time and it’s been one answer. Mid-way through my medical school I made a deliberate decision. And again it was captured in one of my prelatures. That decision was that before you do anything in life. Make sure you consult widely, look front and back, up and down before you do anything. Now why I am telling you this background is ever since then everything I’ve done, every move I’ve made is well calculated. I wouldn’t say I would have changed what I did because everything I do was well thought through. Even when there were mistakes I wouldn’t regret because that’s what I would have done given the circumstances and information’s available to me
HOW DO YOU KEEP FIT… YOU ACTUALLY LOOK 16?
I have a gem but I do not have much time to do that… but I eat well, sleep well. Even if I’m extremely busy I make sure I sleep well. I had to tell you that and then I eat well I don’t eat jams and I’m hoping to improve my exercise time.
I WANT TO KNOW, WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR FOUNDATION IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS?
Big … very big in every part of the globe. I don’t know if you are aware … once we are done with Nigeria… some of our programmes, we’ll be going to Africa, and the rest of the world. Just like the Bill Clintons foundation, Melinda Gates Foundation. We can be sure of that in the next ten years… that’s where we are heading to.
ALRIGHT, IT’S BEEN NICE TALKING TO YOU… LET ME CALL YOU CHIEF. CHIEF DOCTOR CHRIS… YOU ARE ACTUALLY A CHIEF
“How do you know that?
I AM GIVING YOU A TITLE … MAY BE WHEN NEXT YOU COME TO LAGOS
“I already have a title when I was in Nigeria in January, February … so I’m actually a chief