AN EXCLUSIVE WITH THE PROVOST OF THE COLLEGE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES


A very warm welcome to y’all. This is Danny world. We are live here with a very important guest. One I’m sure you’d love to meet. It’s a privilege to have one of university of Benin’s finest men. A man of grace. A man who exudes knowledge and prowess. A man gifted with an uncommon wisdom. He is a clinical physiologist. A renowned professor in the College of Medical Sciences. Most importantly, he is the incumbent PROVOST of the College of Medical Sciences in the University of Benin. I am talking of no one than Prof. Vincent Imagbovomwan Iyawe.

Danny: You’re welcome sir.

Prof. Iyawe: Thank you very much.

Danny: A quick introduction sir. Who is Prof. Vincent Iyawe?

Prof. Iyawe: I believe you said it all earlier. I am a professor in the college of medical sciences. By his grace, this is my 2nd tenure as the provost of the College of Medical Sciences. The college is made up of 3 schools. The school of medicine, school of dentistry and basic medical sciences and recently the institute of child health. In no time, other institutes will be created in the college. We also have a lot of new departments like Physiotherapy, Nursing, Radiography and so on.

Danny: Interesting. How about family?

Prof. Iyawe: Well, I’m happily married. A father of five. Four males and a female. Two, are certified doctors doing very well in their field. The other, is a professional accountant with a doctorate degree in accounting. While the other two are engineers. I’m also blessed with grandchildren. Indeed, only God has made all of these possible.

Danny: Amazing sir. You’re the first alumnus to be the Provost of the College. Tell us how you were able to achieve that?

Prof. Iyawe: Well, I really didn’t do as much to be here. I’ve contested this position twice and twice I’ve been unopposed. When I decided to contest for the first time, all the eligible professors in the college dropped their ambition to my surprise. Perhaps, my credibility was there for everyone to see and when I contested the second time, it was the same result. So, I’d say it’s just been by God’s grace.

Danny: Indeed, credibility is the word sir. Okay, you’ve been the provost for about four years now, how would you describe your experience?

Prof. Iyawe: It’s been pleasant and interesting. But it’s also had its bad days but in all amazing. In my reign, the college has experienced tremendous progress and development. The labs are fully equipped. The lecture theatres are very much conducive for learning. Departments like Radiography, Physiotherapy and the likes were set up and more institutes will be created in the college as regards health care. A whole lot of improvement has occurred since I stepped in. There has been rapid development. I could beat my chest and I say that the college is the most developed in Nigerian universities considering the quality of our facilities and services.

Danny: I guess you’ve set the pace for your successors to follow.

Prof. Iyawe: Yes, you could say that.

Danny: Very well then. You were a student of this great school in the 70s. Tell us your experience then as a Medicine and Surgeon student. What was it like?

Prof. Iyawe: Well, my days as a student on campus was quite interesting. Then, we had an almost free cafeteria where we were served rice and chicken all expense paid and we ate till we were satisfied. The junior staff quarters was our hostel then before hall 1 was built and subsequently other hostels. Then at the junior staff quarters, it was two to a room. Unlike what you have today where you have eight to a room and sometimes you have squatters congesting the whole room. In my days, it wasn’t like that.

We were the first set of medical students in the university of Benin. The medical curricula were not as concentrated as we have now. The workload wasn’t voluminous and so it was quite easy for us to study. We were 18 in class. We were really few. Although, when some students joined us from ABU we became about 36 in a class which is quite different from what we have now. We were able to manage the resources available to us at the time. Our only pain then, was the bad roads. We had to walk in the mud all the time.

Danny: Wow I’m quite particular about the rice and chicken sir.

Prof. Iyawe: Hahaha…Unluckily, you weren’t born in my generation. At least you have good roads now so that’s a plus.

Danny: Well, we can’t complain. How about your social life as a student?

Prof. Iyawe: Well, I had a different version of social life. It was always about the church for me. I was an excutive of the Medical Christian Union at some point. Then, I also emerged president of UBEMSA which is the association for all medical students. I was also involved in sporting activities. In my days, I played football. I played as a right back and in the midfield as well for the faculty and the university. That was my social life.

Danny: Interesting. You did your post graduate studies in the University of London and the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. How would you rate their facilities and services over there compared to that of Nigeria?

Prof. Iyawe: Yes, they did offer better services and their facilities were top notch. As at the time, the credibility of our degree here in Nigeria was not in question. But a lot of us still had to run a lot programmes to add to ours here. I was opportune to study in the university of London which is quite reputable in the world. I was there for about 3 years where I studied at St. George’s Medical School which is one of the largest in Europe. I also worked at the St. Thomas’ hospital which was located across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament in London.

My stay in Edinburgh was short. I did a 3 to 6 months programme. Basically, teaching and carrying out researches as a visiting professor. I also had some experience in sports medicine over there in the U.K. I was also a visiting professor in Israel, Dubai and the likes. I’ve been to various conferences in the U.S, France, Germany, the old Czechoslovakia and so many other countries. Indeed, it’s been God all through.

Danny: Wow. I certainly do hope to tour round the world someday like you sir.

Prof. Iyawe: Hahaha. Well, if you’re focused and God conscious, you certainly can attain such a height.

Danny: Very true sir. Now a lot of students have complained about the limited slots available to medicine applicants. Do you feel more slots should be opened to accommodate more students into the field?

Prof. Iyawe: Very good question. This has been my fight for years. Soon, it’s gonna become a reality. I’ve been communicating with those in charge of accreditation trying to see how we could lobby for more slots to be opened for medical students. Recently, they came to the college and very soon the slots will increase that I can assure you will happen before I leave office in 7 months. Currently, the slots available is 100 but when this deal pulls through, we should be having about 150 to 180 slots for medical students. We are certainly working on this and we want to make sure it sees the light of day.

Danny: That’s good news for medical applicants. How about dentistry? Any plans of increasing the slots?

Prof. Iyawe: Currently, they have 25 slots but they are not very particular about increasing the slot. Their apparatus or instruments as it were are quite expensive and so they try as much as possible to manage their resources with the few slots available to them. So for now, it’s all about the medical students.

Danny: Alright then. Originally, the NDDC hostel was opened for medical students alone. But today, we see a lot of non-medical students occupy spaces in the hostel denying eligible medical students spaces. What’s your take on that sir?

Prof. Iyawe: This has been a disturbing issue for the college. As we all know, NDDC hostels built in Nigerian universities are for the medical students alone. But here in the university of Benin, it seems not to be the case. The NDDC hostel was made for the college. I cannot stress that enough. Any other student occupying a space is illegal and as such the due actions should be taken. Allocating NDDC bed spaces to non-medical students puts the accreditation of the college in jeopardy. Besides, the highly concentrated syllabus of the MBBS programme requires a quiet and conducive hostel environment for medical students to study effectively.

Danny: We hope this issue will be addressed accordingly.

Prof. Iyawe: Yes, measures will be taken to address this issue.

Danny: Now, you’re a clinical physiologist, the provost and a Bishop at the Church of God Mission. How are you able to combine these demanding jobs?

Prof. Iyawe: It’s just been by his grace. God’s been amazing and he’s the reason for everything I’ve been able to achieve my whole life. I’m also a very organised person. I try as much possible to give my time to what is important and not chase frivolities. When you’re focused and you acknowledge God in your life, you certainly will attain heights. I’m also chairman of various boards and associations yet I give each job maximum attention. It’s all about time management. This is what I tell young people. When you spend your time on facebook, twitter, whatsapp and the likes, you don’t realise how much time you’ve wasted doing what is not really of the essence. We should all learn to give time to what is necessary and every other thing will fall in line.

Danny: Wise words sir. Young people should keep that in mind. Lastly sir, what is your advice for the newly admitted students especially the medical students?

Prof. Iyawe: In one word, HARDWORK. It’s the only way to get things done. You attend classes, do your practicals, submit your assignments, study and be available for exams. If you do all of these, you’re certainly gonna make good grades.

Danny: Words you can trust. Take that to the bank. Thank you so much sir for your time.

Prof. Iyawe: Pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Well, that was the Provost of the college of medical sciences university of Benin. I’m sure you learned a lot from him today. An amazing man to say the least. We hope in our subsequent interviews, we’d have interesting guests just as Prof. Vincent Iyawe. Well, until next time, this is Danny world…

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