The Federal Government should subsidize milk not petrol — OAU Don

Dr. Okeniyi to the Asabearika…’Young People should endeavor to be patience with success. Slow & Steady wins the race’

Dr. John
Akintunde OKENIYI
is a human
physiologist and a Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist with interests in
neonatal care, a lecturer (Associate Professor) in Paediatrics and Child Health
with over 40 academic publications at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
(Osun State—South West Nigeria) The Doctor is a member of many professional
bodies, a Heinz Visiting Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics
and
Child Health
of London and a Fellow of the West
African College of
Physicians.
He has practiced medicine for about 20 years mainly in
the field of Paediatrics and Child Health and primarily at the Wesley
Guild Hospital
Unit of the OAUTHC in Ilesa, Osun
State where he directed the neonatal services for about 10 years. Also, he
coordinated the Post-graduate academic programme of the OAU/OAUTHC in
Paediatrics and Child Health for 8 years. Subsequently, he anchored the
establishment of the Paediatric Cardiology Unit and he is
currently the lead physician in the open heart surgical programme. At varying
times, he has been a visiting physician to the State Specialist Hospitals, Okitipupa
and Akure in Ondo State (South West Nigeria) and the Ladoke Akintola
University Teaching Hospital
, Osogbo, Osun State and offshore
at the Evalina Children’s Hospital, London and the KIMS
hospital,
Hyderabad, India. He intermittently attends conferences,
workshops and seminars.

He has supervised the professional training of many
paediatricians. He is also a reviewer to many academic journals and an adviser
to various student bodies. He has been guest lecturer/ speaker on child health
issues to many media organizations, churches and other such public gatherings.
He was born at the Western Avenue, Surulere
in Lagos (Nigeria’s South West) during the Nigerian Civil war though he hails
from Ogbomosho, Oyo State. He is a Christian with strong conservative political
views and happily married with three children. Dr. Okeniyi was one of
the discussants at the recently held PEAK Nutrition Seminar and the launching
of PEAK 4-5-6 brand for children within the ages of 4 to 6 years. The very
cool, calm and collected Dr. Okeniyi opened up to your
Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika after the
session what he told us about government’s policy concerning milk is something
the leadership of Nigeria might need to key into. Enjoy the excerpts.

Dr. Okeniyi to Asabeafrika…’It is quite sad that government dont know the value of milk on the psyche of our young ones’

You are one
of the discussants at today Peak Nutrition Forum where the need for nutrition
security was discussed amidst the launching of PEAK 4-5-6. What is your candid opinion
as regards the campaign?
I think it is a great idea but why do I
think is a great idea is more important. The human physiology is that the
natural way to key a baby is the human breast milk which is the normal thing to
do. But for how long should this occur? The orangutan
will feed its baby for seven years and won’t stop until it is pregnant for
another baby. But our own women, they have to go work and do other things. And
they must have other children within a reasonable time. So, we say ‘feed them for six months with breast milk’. For six months of it, it should
be only your breast.  Then; from after
six months, in that gap, add other foods. But what happens after two years to
six years? People forget that the brain has not fully grown and milk is the
only food that contains virtually everything. 90% of what will make your brain
grow is in milk. It is easily digestible, easily available and can as well, do
the job. But where is the human milk? If it is available fine; if it is not,
then we need milk that will be able to compliment the action of the human milk.
90% of human brain is not fully grown until about seven years.  So, people must know that milk is not just
for babies. It is for the growing child until the brain is matured. So, if
government can understand that, it will be good. Why should we be spending
billions subsidizing fuel for car? Or subsidizing fuel for generator? Let us
subsidize that fuel for the brain of the Nigerian child. If government can
adapt milk policy into their school food program, it would be nice and
fantastic. If the Government can make milk available in school, there is no
better way of creating a team of dynamic future leaders than that. But the
better thing is that before they even go to school, children should take milk
so that by the time they are entering school, the brain is already ready. Empowering
the youth with job is good. But what is better to my mind even alphabetically
should be M before N; give them milk.

“Being
a father is a privilege. It is a privilege to be part of creation; it is a
privilege to see your future in this present time. It is also a responsibility
because if you misconstrue it, you will think it is an opportunity to lord over
another being”

Empower them; let the Nigerian
child have a good brain and you leave the rest for him or her. When you empower
the brain, the brain will empower the body. So, empowerment of the brain with
milk in the first seven years is a very compulsory service to be undertaken by
both the government and the parent. Let the Nigerian child have access to milk.
Britain
did it after the war and that is why they became great. They made sure that
milk was taken to the door step of every home in Britain it was a national
conscientious sacrifice that was carried out after the war and that was how Britain
developed. If we can do that in Nigeria, we will see the turnaround impact on
national development. A Nigerian that has not taken enough milk is creating
wave worldwide. You can now imagine that Nigerian’s brain that is better fueled
before six years of life. That is all I am saying. 

The Doctor and his very pretty wife, Mrs. Okeniyi

What
does it takes to be a father?
Being a father is a privilege. It is a
privilege to be part of creation; it is a privilege to see your future in this
present time. It is also a responsibility because if you misconstrue it, you
will think it is an opportunity to lord over another being. The child is not
just your offspring, the child is a human gift and God just gave you the
privilege for that human being to come through you. It is good for you to make
the best of that privilege before it is too late. One last thing is that our
children don’t need presents from us; I mean buying toys and all sorts to
cushion our absence from them. No; they need our presence and guidance. So, it
is a privilege to be a father. It is a privilege to be a parent.

“I
am a pediatrician and my calling is to take care of children. I also lecture in
the university to teach doctors and nurse how to take care of the children. So,
it is a calling for me to be able to assist the children and that alone makes
me happy”.

What
do you like about your job?
I am a pediatrician and my calling is to
take care of children. I also lecture in the university to teach doctors and nurse
how to take care of the children. So, it is a calling for me to be able to
assist the children and that alone makes me happy. There is no business as good
as the business of raising a younger generation of people and giving them a
clear orientation on how to become responsible citizens. That is my calling.

Dr. Okeniyi to Asabeafrika…’I teach young Doctors and Nurse how to take care of babies at Obafemi Awolowo University’

What
do you hate about your job?
What I hate about my job which pains me
till date is that Nigerian children are dying of needless diseases like
infections, malnutrition, heart diseases which can be prevented. Most times, these
deaths can be prevented.  And I am often
time handicapped and helpless in the country I find myself. I am handicapped to
assist so many children as much as I desired to do.

Dr. Okeniyi to Asabeafrika…’My Pleasure is to rescue as many children as i could from the claws of premature death’

If
you have a 30 minutes face-to-face encounter with President Muhammad Buhari,
what will be your advice to him on how to stop child mortality?
I will tell him to ensure that food is
available to all Nigerian children before the age of six years and all women
before and during pregnancy. The country will naturally improve; we won’t have
leaders and youths who cannot think straight. We won’t have violent leaders in
our polity. I am sure you are a Yoruba man and the Yoruba axiom says ‘Ti
ebi ba ti kuro ninu ise, eyi to ku kekere ni’
 (If hunger is taken out of a regime of
poverty, the larger part of poverty is gone)that is the simple solution to
lawlessness and the myriads of societal problems facing us. We should stop
subsidizing trips abroad, we should stop subsidizing fuel, and we should
subsidize food instead.

Dr. Okeniyi to Asabeafrika….’What i like about my job is that it contributes to the quality of lives’

I
can see that you are the only academic guest who came with your
son-Oluwatobiloba.  Your counterpart from
Ambrose Ali University, Dr. Onimawo came with his wife. Why did you come with
your son?
Yes, it is simple. You are a Yoruba
man and the Yorubas will say Eyan
lo wa leyin
Oro t’oro fin ke” (A human being is the one beneath the masquerade
that gives life to its activities). He is here to cheer me on and he is doing
that perfectly. My wife is at home with the other children and has to go to her
work as well. I don’t live in Lagos, I came from Osun
state. It was difficult, we couldn’t leave the home front naked and I am sure
my wife is with us here in spirit.

“Eni
to ba kanju kan daada e, a debe o, sugbon a tete kuro naa ni”

Dr. Okeniyi with his scion, Oluwatobiloba and the GDA at the ceremony

Are
you from Osun state?
No, I am from Ogbomosho in Oyo state.
But I am proudly a Nigerian, I can work anywhere.
Do
you have a role model?
Yes!

Dr. Okeniyi to Asabeafrika…’Government should subsidize milk for  schoolchildren and stop subsidizing petrol for cars’

Who
is that?
He is alive but he is not on earth right
now. His name is JESUS CHRIST.
Can
you share your book secret with me, which book inspires you most?
I read lots of books but the single one
book that I will advice everybody to read from my mind is the Bible. All other
books could be recreational, entertaining and things like that. But as a manual
to guide life and guide principles and even to entertain you, there are stories
to entertain you in the Bible. So, the Bible remains the biggest and best books
of all times. It is my favorite book.

The Gifted Doctor Okeniyi and his lovely family on a holiday trip

I
am sure you are aware that today’s youth  believe in making fast money, if you are in a
room and you are to give 2500 young Nigerians advice on merit, what would you
tell them?
Slow and steady wins the race. Kan
lo ko suuru
(They should go and learn the art of patience).  ‘Eni to ba kanju kan daada e, a debe o,
sugbon a tete kuro naa ni’
(Anybody that rushes into his success will
reach that success but will exit as fast as he came).  Kan se suuru, we will all get there.
That is my message to all of them including my own children. Life is about
learning the rope, life is about processes and anything you don’t get through
processes you are bound to lose it quick as it comes. The Yorubas will say ‘Ohun
ta’ aba sise fun nin pe lowo eni’
anything you sweat to get will ever
stay with you, your education will stay with you be it formal or informal
education but if you dupe people or you stole to wealth it will never stay with
you. It will go the way it came. Experiences abound everywhere. So, the
Nigerian youths should look inward and find out what could give them an edge;
be it in education or career endeavor. With a slow and steady gesture, you will
be successful some day.

Dr. Okeniyi to Asabeafrika…’I feel sad when my ability to save many children from dying is limited’

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