Nigerian politician, Dr. Doyin Okupe has opened up about his career, revealing how a white man’s comment on leadership in Nigeria made him decide to join politics, while he was in medical school in the UK.
According to Dr. Okupe, a 21-year-old man told him the UK was led by the most brilliant, wealthiest and progressive-minded people, while Nigerian leaders come from the bottom of the ladder.
Dr. Okupe, former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, made the revelation in an interview on VanguardLive TV’s The Controversy on Wednesday.
“I trained as a doctor in the UK,” Okupe told VanguardLive. “In my last year, I was with a hospital on an elective progamme.
“We were just about three blacks in my group and there was nothing fantastic about them (whites). I had to pretend and deliberately say something wrong so it doesn’t appear like I am always right.
“I called one of them (whites); his name is David. I said you guys look so average. How come your society is better than ours?
“What he said shocked me. He said: ‘The UK is run by five percent of the most brilliant, wealthiest and the progressives of the population— that is the top of the pyramid. But in your country (Nigeria), it is the bottom of the pyramid that your leaders come from’.
“I was hurt. I decided then that when I finished medical school, I would join politics and be part of the decision-makers to effect positive change.”
On how far he has been able to fulfill the vow, Okupe said he does not feel fulfilled because he could not do as much as he wanted to.
His words: “I am sad and don’t feel fulfilled because I have not been able to fulfill that vow effectively.
“I had all the opportunities to get good things done because I was not just an ordinary aide to the presidents I worked with. We were friends and partners.”
Asked why he could not make the much difference he desired, Dr. Doyin Okupe blamed it on “the structure and nature of our politics.”
He recalled an instance when he mooted the idea of creating a national IT platform with a guru, “a first-class person on IT matters”, heading it.
The plan did not materialise because some powerful people felt “what’s wrong with you? You create such an important platform and want an Ibo person to head it’?”