Many Nigerians Are Hypocrites – Dr Wale Okediran

Dr Wale Okediran is a talented man. Apart from being a medical doctor, he’s also a politician and a prolific writer. He’s our guest this week.

Could you introduce yourself to our readers, sir?

I am Dr Wale Okediran, a Medical Doctor, Award winning Author and Politician. I am a former Member, House Of Representatives, Abuja, past National President, Association Of Nigerian Authors and an award winning author of many books.

What is your nationality?

Nigerian

Where are you now?

I currently live and work in Accra, Ghana as the Secretary General of the Pan African Writers Association, an umbrella body for African Writers.

We understand you’ve made some incursions into the politics of your country, could you relate your experiences to us?

I had a wonderful experience in politics even though I had a near stormy beginning because it was my first experience in politics. This is understandable in the sense that coming from a background as a medical practitioner, pre-election activities such as campaigns, and nominations into office were fraught with a lot of corruption, manipulations and dangers. This is in addition to the very expensive political processes leading to election into office.

However, I quickly settled down on arrival at the National Assembly in Abuja as a Member of the House Of Representatives. During my stay at the NASS, I proposed a Bill for the Endowment of the Arts. Unfortunately, I could not convince the large majority of my colleagues to support the bill which was eventually dropped. However, I was able to create a substantial degree of awareness for literature among the Legislatures through the public presentation of two of my books while in the House. The large attendance and publicity given to the events went a long way in getting some of the lawmakers to contribute to literary activities in their respective constituencies. In addition, two successive Speakers in the House of Representatives bought copies of my book; ‘TENANTS OF THE HOUSE’ which was inspired by my stay in the House for every member of the House Of Representatives.

Dr Wale Okediran and grand children

What do you think is the problem with Nigeria?

The problem is both with the Leadership and Followership. Many Nigerians are hypocrites. They insist on collecting money from Politicians before voting for them only to turn round to be criticising the same Politicians who on assumption of office refuse to serve them because the Politicians (rightly or wrongly) believe that they have already paid for the offices they occupy. Many Nigerians will not vote for a poor up and coming Politician who cannot ‘settle’ them during elections.

On the other hand, we have some elected Politicians who mean well for those who brought them into office but cannot perform because of the heavy financial demands from the electorate who hardly cares whether or not their towns and villages are developed as long as they regularly collect money from their elected officials.

My position is that both the electorate and elected need a change of mindset if we want the country to develop.

If given another opportunity, will you participate in politics?

Yes, I will, God willing.

You’re a prolific writer, what spurs you on?

My passion for reading and writing. I also have this deep seated belief in the many benefits of Literature. The list is endless…education and knowledge, relaxation, healing therapy, empowerment, financial support, net working, ability to know places and make friends among other benefits.

As an artist, I consider it my duty to tell the story around me in the best possible way possible. I also believe that the duty of a writer is to write as honestly as possible what the society often considers ‘unspeakable’ so that through this, some of the ills in the society can be corrected. For example, I was prompted to write ‘Tenants Of The House’ because of my deep seated conviction that Nigeria has great potentials once we can get our acts together both by those in power and the followership. One of the ways of doing this is to tell our stories, however painful or uncomfortable this may be. This way, while laughing at our mistakes, we can learn how to correct them and move forward. My experience with ‘Strange Encounters’ and ‘Tenants Of The House’ has confirmed that well known fact that in creating good and memorable novels, a writer must be ready to ruffle some feathers. While it is true that some of my colleagues in the Nigerian Parliament were miffed by some of the expositions in Tenants Of The House, the book has been well received by a large number of them. In fact, some of the Legislators have praised me for helping them by telling the world some of the challenges politicians face when taking up the arduous task of nation building in a developing country such as Nigeria. Even though I cannot boast that all my works have been largely successful in effecting changes in my immediate society, I am still satisfied that many of my works have been able to effect some degree of awareness in the minds of those who have read them.

You are also a medical doctor, do you still practice?

Yes, I still do. My private hospital, Cornerstone Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria is still being run by my team of Health Professionals. I am regularly consulted on a daily basis when some difficult cases are seen in the hospital. Through the means of technology (Telemedicine) such as scans, emails and WhatsApp among others, I still contribute to the diagnosis and management of my patients from anywhere in the world.

This is apart from personal consultations from my friends, family and staff anytime my help is needed.

In addition, I have been writing a weekly Health Column (ASK THE DOCTOR) for the Nigerian Tribune Newspaper for the past 15 years as my own contribution to Public Health.

You have visited many countries, what are the differences between them?

You won’t believe it if I tell you that after visiting about 30 countries in the world, I have discovered that there is very little difference between human beings of whatever race. The fundamental human needs for shelter, food, love, money, education, good governance and good health among others remain the same. What is different is the occasional cultural differences which make the pursuit of these needs mildly different from country to country.

Can you comment on the rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria?

The issue of the current friction between Nigerians and Ghanaians is a complex one. It has to with a long time history of rivalry between the two countries in the areas of commerce, sports,(especially soccer) fashion, literature and food….the Jollof wars!!. Luckily, the situation is not as bad as it is being painted by the media. Ghanaian traders are complaining about the high influx of Nigerian traders who are taking over their jobs especially in the area of petty trading. You know that Ghana is a small country of about 30 million people compared to Nigeria’s over 200 million. It is therefore natural for Ghanaians to feel threatened by this influx. However, the matter is being looked into. I was at the meetings held by the Nigerian’s Speaker, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo when they came to mediate in the problem.

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