The West African College of Surgeons has reiterated why it embarked on the construction of a permanent secretariat for its operations.
The College stated that its leadership decided to invest in the project as part of its strategic plan to become self-sufficient in its core mandate and vision, and to hopefully reduce the cost of examination and other services it renders to regional governments.
Speaking at the inauguration of the permanent secretariat in Yaba, Lagos, recently, the WACS president, Prof. King-David Yawe, noted that the secretariat was a symbol of the unity of the West African medical practitioners.
He added that the WACS was founded in 1960 as the body responsible for the training of surgical consultants and allied specialist doctors for medical schools and teaching hospitals in West Africa. President Muhammadu Buhari declared the permanent secretariat open.
Tracing the genesis of the secretariat, Yawe said the first major step towards the fundraiser for its construction was taken in Calabar in 2010 under the leadership of Prof. Mbonu, while the land was purchased in 2012 during the tenure of Prof. Ogedengbe.
“The foundation was laid on July 8, 2014 during the presidency of Prof. Herve Yangni-Agante Jnr., with a completion period of 30 months.
“On February 23, 2017, a phase of the building was; dedicated by the health minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, assisted by Prof. Omigbodun,” Yawe stated.
He said that immediately he became WACS president on March 3, 2017; he made the completion and inauguration of the secretariat a priority, saying the building was; finally handed over to the Chairman, Registered Trustees of WACS, Justice Olukayode Shomolu (SAN) on January 15, 2018.
The money for the project, totalling N1.2bn, came solely from members’ contributions, without bank loan or support from the public sector, Yawe declared.
He commended the tremendous roles played by the technical committee chaired by Prof. Osato Giwa-Osagie; and the fundraising committee variously headed by Prof. Ogunbiyi and lately, Prof. Nimi Briggs, among others.
However, citing some challenges they had experienced, Yawe appealed to the Federal Government, asking for its intervention to aid the secretariat’s final completion.
While paying tributes to the WACS’ past and present leaders, Yawe expressed deep appreciation to Prof. E.A. Elebute and his family, who he said made the largest donation of N25m.
He also thanked the Lagos State Government for the strict supervision which ensured compliance with international safety standards; and especially to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for approving the final completion of the structure.
He also stated that the College has applied for land in Abuja for a multipurpose arena that will house a skills and simulation centre, an international conference centre, and an examination/workshop centre.
“We have obtained land in Accra to develop a national office in Ghana; and we plan similar ventures in each member nation,” Yawe disclosed.
Also speaking, a past president of WACS, Prof. Olajide Ajayi, noted that the idea of a permanent secretariat was; mooted by a Cameroonian Victor Ngu; while a president of the College, a Ghanaian,
Charles Easmond, in his 1965 address to a conference held in Accra, “strongly urged a conference of postgraduate surgical education, in concert with West African medical schools.”
“A committee emerged to look into the various aspects for the formation of the WACS, produced a training programme and looked into the possibility of a permanent secretariat for the College in Lagos,” Ajayi recalled.
Commending the efforts so far, Ajayi said the inauguration of the permanent secretariat was a tutorial on unity in diversity, pragmatic decision-making processes and balanced strategic planning.