DOCTOR Gbenga Omolayole is a man of many parts – a politician, a medical doctor and a serial entrepreneur. With his wealth of experience in medical practice and politics, he has served in both the private and the public sector.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with him on life as a politician, entrepreneur and medical doctor. We also asked him questions on sundry issues.
What prepared you for the task ahead, you are a politician, medical doctor and entrepreneur?
The biggest influence in my life were my parents. My father died in 2008. Before his demise, he was the most disciplined human being I ever knew. He would wake up at the right time. His life was regimental when it comes to things that needed to be done. You cannot see him outside after 5 p.m. He didn’t smoke and he did not drink alcohol. In my adult life, I didn’t see him chase women. He was a big influence on me.
He was a civil servant to the core. He worked as a social welfare worker. I can remember a particular woman, a mentally troubled woman gave birth, my father took the baby to a motherless home despite the struggle between her and him.
Mentoring was by my parents. My mother was a headmistress. When you combine a disciplined father and a school teacher, you end up like this. We are six in my family. I have an elder sister, an elder brother too who retired as a permanent secretary in Ogun State. He is now into business. While growing up, we didn’t have a lesson teacher. My father prepared us for all external exams. I came second once from primary one through six. For the national entrance exam, I came second overall. Good upbringing, good mission school. In Catholic church, they give good morals. They teach good morals in their schools. I strive to uphold the good virtues handed over to me.
What actually led you into politics?
My curiosity and anxiety led me to politics. I used to talk so much about politics while I was in school. There was a cousin of mine who said I should come with him for a political meeting. I followed him and we were addressed by Obafemi Awolowo himself. He indoctrinated me with an ideology known as Democracy. That fired the patriotic zeal in me.
No, that is not true. The defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), was Second Republic, Social Democratic Party (SDP), was Third Republic, Alliance for Democracy (AD) was Fourth Republic. The only movement I made was from AD to PDP. We supported Bola Tinubu to win Lagos State. Most of the people that worked for him were from Ogun State. We decided to go back to our state to make a difference.
Some of us were card carrying members of AD. We set up an NGO, Gateway Foundation. We were moving from one community to another, we would note their problem and offer solution. We had a political retreat, there was a decision to change party and majority agreed to that. That was why I moved to PDP. I have never jumped from one party to another.
We are waiting for the torch bearer for the Yoruba. I realized that the two political parties I have been to are the same. They don’t have ideology. I am awaiting the time a torch bearer will arise for the Yoruba.
What do you have to say about President Buhari?
The messiah is not yet here. I am yet to believe he is even John the Baptist. I wouldn’t say more than that.
Why did you set out to be a medical doctor?
I think I was influenced at a very tender age. If you are brilliant in my own days, the next thing is that you will become a doctor. I accepted that and didn’t think otherwise. It was when I was at the medical school that I thought of reading Law too. But now, all I can think of is Nigeria. I am very passionate about my country.
From your experience as a medical doctor and your years of service both at the public and private sector, what do you think is the way out of our problematic health sector?
I became a medical director in the private sector at a very tender age. Let us list the problems first: inadequate necessary infrastructure, inadequacy of drugs, poorly motivated staff. The system was not defined. Olukoye Ransome Kuti tried to define it for us. We are supposed to have three levels in the sector, the primary health centre, at the secondary level we have the general hospital where huge curative medicine is administered. The tertiary is the research centre. But there is no research in any teaching hospital. I don’t know. Things are worse off now than when we were doing our housemanship. It is because there is no funding for the health sector. In advanced countries, they fund their health sector through insurance. There should be an agency that will ensure things are done properly.
There should be health insurance, motivate health workers and work with non-governmental agencies. We should have comprehensive health centres to fill the gap between primary and secondary health.
Everything is wrong in this country. We are not yet ready to face our problems. Healthcare system should be restructured. Primary health centres and general hospitals are not performing. There are vacuums to be filled. When I was in medical school, there was comprehensive health centre at Randle Avenue Health Centre, but it has been converted to a general hospital now, it does not make sense.
There must be comprehensive health centres where they can continue with whatever preventive measures, then there will be curative too. Health education should be reviewed.
There must be room for skilled health workers too. Most of those people that are good should be employed. Everything is wrong in this country until we are prepared to face our problems head long, we will continue to grope in the dark.
How do you unwind?
I drive to Ijebu. I rest. I also play golf. I listen to good music in my car. I mean, contemporary music. Wizkid, Davido, Olamide. 9ice is my main man. I also listen to the news. I go to parties I am committed to. I have a club I go to every Friday as well. If not, I am at home resting.
Are you looking at elective post in the nearest future?
I don’t nurse ambition. There could be dreams. I have tasted politics. There has been four assassination attempts on my life. My family doesn’t even want a politician near my house. I have not nursed any ambition in my life. I have faced mission, if it is from God close to my vision, I don’t have a choice, I will take it.
– HADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN