The Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA), came into being some 25 years ago thanks to a group of like-minded, outstanding patriotic Nigerian Physicians in Southern California. What follows here is my narrative!
My first tribute goes to Dr. Iheanacho Emeruwa, a trained Internist who later became an OBGYN. His energy and belief in the birth of this baby, ANPA, was legendary. He spear-headed (NOT ALONE) all the logistics that made this birth possible. His house was the first ANPA Headquarters, he was the first Executive Director, his wife was the first ANPA secretariat manager (my own made-up title), and he oversaw the compilation of a list of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas.
In spirit, I endorsed the formation of this association, but was not able too be part of the founding physically. I have been referred to as a founding member, but it was only in spirit, not in flesh. Dr. Emeruwa never gave up on me. He kept calling and kept answering my questions, all reflecting my skepticism with anything Nigerian.
The first conference was in Anaheim, CA. Dr. Emeruwa’s desire to see all Nigerian Physicians in this new association, took the 2nd conference to New York in 1996, where the greatest concentration of Nigerian Physicians in the American Diaspora resided. I also could not attend. The 3rd conference was then brought to the Midwest and, now I could not find any excuse, and so became not only an ANPA member in spirit, but also in flesh. My role in ANPA since 1997, that of executing the wishes of ANPA Presidents in preparing annual conferences and scientific assemblies, has been one of the most fulfilling assignments I have ever been privileged to perform.
The first President of ANPA is Dr. Matthias Okoye, a Pathologist, who understood the delicate nature of this new association and did everything to hold its fragile bond together. The second President is Dr. S.K. Bosu, a Pediatrician, who resigned within 6 months of duty. The President-Elect at that time, who became the third President of ANPA, Dr. Aqua Don Umoren, an OBGYN, became the longest serving President. He was resolute in his commitment to keep ANPA alive, investing not only time, but also personal material resources, in this resolve. Dr. Umoren was once a Commissioner for Health in Aqwa Ibom State, and he passed away less than 2 years ago. The fourth ANPA President, is Dr. Alphonsus Obayuwana, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist, a reserve officer in the U.S. Navy, an expert in Parliamentary procedures, whose skills in running meetings and insistence on strict adherence to parliamentary procedure, introduced discipline to the conduct of our meeting.
Our Fifth President is Dr. Olusegun Rasaki Salako, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist, who has since passed away. He was the first and longest serving Treasurer of ANPA, the first Medical Missions Chief, and his tenure as president was during a very challenging time for ANPA. The association struggled financially and had no money for anything. Dr. Salako’s cool and calm disposition was infectious and he convinced ANPA members to rescue the association. While teachers were donating $500, many Board members were donating $5000. One cannot but notice this act of love to save ANPA. Our Sixth President is Dr. Emmanuel Okafor, an internist and Gastroenterologist, breaking the monopoly of the Obstetricians. Dr. Okafor, for the first time introduced Professional secretarial help to ANPA, thus making our transactions more centrally located. Our seventh President is Dr. Yele Aluko, an Internist and Interventional Cardiologist. ANPA became of age during this presidency and, he insisted on a business model for ANPA’s growth. One of our Board retreats was devoted to coaching members on how to bring value to ANPA and how ANPA can share value to its members.
Our Eighth President is Julius Kpaduwa, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist, whose passion was how to make ANPA relevant in Nigeria. His presidency saw the first ANPA convention in Nigeria in 2009 (15th convention), and opened access to the Nigerian medical Association (NMA), a relationship that has strengthened since. Our Ninth President is Professor Fiemu Nwariaku, a General Surgeon, who was the President of the American Association of Academic Surgeons. His tenure began the aggressive advocacy activity of ANPA. It was in his tenure that we succeeded in convincing Nigerian stakeholders about changes in curriculum for medical education. During his tenure ANPA played a pivotal role in drafting a new curriculum for medical schools. Our Tenth President is Dr. Michael Etomi, an Internist and Nephrologist. His tenure exposed ANPA to the Nigerian media, commercial Business and healthcare partners and and helped in promoting all ANPA’s good work in Nigeria.
Our Eleventh President is Dr. Nkem Chukwumerije, an Internist and Hospitalist, whose passion for service in our homeland led to the creation of ANPA week. He organized the week to include 3 parts: patient care, provision of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs for physicians, and Advocacy for health care in Nigeria. The twelfth President is Dr. Johnson Adeyanju, a General Internist and author. His presidency emphasized interdisciplinary cooperation, solidified the ANPA week concept, and expanded ANPA chapters. We are now functioning under the presidency of our Thirteenth President, Dr. Charmaine Emelife, an Internist and Nephrologist. She is the first woman President of ANPA, the first ANPA President to be recognized with a Chieftaincy title in Nigeria, and the first ANPA president to successfully access women organizations in Nigeria.
I have been very fortunate to have served ANPA under all these outstanding Nigerians, all of whom have given me hope for a brighter Nigeria. Thank you.
The People’s Prof