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Dr Olukayode Segun Adeyanju could have stayed back in the United States to practice after spending two years in Houston, Texas, when he went there to improve his expertise and be exposed to technology and surgical techniques in the field of dentistry, which he studied at the Obafemi Awolowo University and graduated in 1990. Dr. Adeyanju is a born-again Christian and evangelist with a passion for teaching people why it is important to maintain good oral care.
In an interview, he goes down memory lane, to recall how his dental practice, which is marking its 20th anniversary, survived turbulence in its early years, to get to the point where it has clinics in Victoria-Island, Ikorodu, Isolo and an exclusive clinic (DDH Deluxe) for upper class patients, all in Lagos-Nigeria.
I studied dentistry at the Obafemi Awolowo University and graduated in 1990. Then I spent one year at General Hospital, Lagos, for the housemanship. I stayed back for the national youth service. After the service ended, I was offered appointment to join the team which was supposed to establish a clinic in Epe area of Lagos. We were supposed to go there about two or three times a week. I did not go, because what I experienced during the housemanship and the service year at General Hospital left me disillusioned. So I turned down the offer. I simply did not like the setting.
What was wrong with the setting?
For a young man who graduated, burning with passion and had strong expectations in a profession that you are trying to explore, there were too many odds that didn’t make working at the hospital a promising situation. At that time, four dentists were sharing one dental chair; it was like having four drives to a car. The ideal thing for anyone who has passion for dentistry is to have a dental chair to render service to patients in need. For me, sharing one dental chair with three other colleagues was in itself demoralising. From my personal paradigm or world view, I strive for excellence. So I knew that I would not achieve excellence in service in that setting. Such things as drugs and consumables required to render dental care services were out of stock. Often hearing that we could not work because the generator was not working was simply frustrating – several dental care tools require electricity, because it is a surgical process.
So, I quit and practiced under late Dr. Frances Kuboye (Fela’s niece), whose husband owned the popular Jazz 38 night club. I worked with her briefly, and then went over to Ikoyi Dental Clinic. I also worked briefly for myself. Then I travelled to the United States after winning US Green Card Lottery in 1997.
Before I left for the U.S, I had a strong leading of the Holy Spirit (I am a born again Christian) not to relocate out of Nigeria. So I took my trip to the US as a case of going for postgraduate studies. So I did a combination of formal and informal studies. Having a green card allowed me to work. I wrote to organisations, that I had worked in Nigeria as a dentist and came to America to broaden and deepen my knowledge and expertise in the profession, and that opened doors for me. I got work in some places where I had opportunity to learn new techniques and get exposed to current technology as well as benefit from the transfer of knowledge. They paid me little money, which was just enough to cover my meagre needs, and I also diligently saved. In addition, I registered for short term courses at the University of Houston, Texas and attended several scientific conferences in the field. I spent two years and returned to Nigeria.
When did you set up the practice after your return?
I registered Divine Dental Home (DDH) in 2001. It was a herculean task setting up a private practice, in terms of finance. The cost of renting space for the clinic was quite high. Again, getting the required equipment was a huge problem. But I was lucky to some extent because I brought equipment from when I was returning from USA. Really it was difficult getting other equipments in Nigeria, and creating the right ambience in the clinic. Moreover, various problems in the polity were also affecting the process in a way.
How were you able to cope given that most Nigerians do not readily seek dental care?
I would say that I had enjoyed a lot of grace in the United States. I had management training on how to run a dental practice. I was told, ‘You are to be a businessman practicing dentistry. You are not a dentist trying to be a businessman.’ So, I studied marketing, human resources management, accounting and finance, budgeting and public relations. The knowledge and experience I gained in America really helped me a lot. So, I am not a typical dentist, I had a lot of American flavour in my mix when I started, which gave me an edge. Whoever came across me, I would make you so comfortable that you’d want to come back to my clinic, and also stay with me.
In fact, I started my practice when the Sun Newspaper had just been birthed. I was privileged to be connected with Mr. Femi Adesina, who gave me opportunity to write a column in the news paper, to educate Nigerians about oral care. I was one of the pioneer columnists. The column became hugely successful. I used to get calls all over Nigeria from readers who needed advice on dental problems. The column helped to create awareness about the need for oral care.
Did the column really make impact?
Of course it did! A great deal! You see, at that time people had a fear of seeking dental care. The tone of the column and the easy-to-digest way information was given out made people begin to take greater interest in oral care beyond just brushing their teeth. For me, writing that column was a way of making positive impact on the health-seeking community in Nigeria. I remember that I got patients who had special dental problems, coming all the way to Lagos from Abuja, Kano, and Calabar. When they came, they did not mind that my clinic was small at the time. They were more interested in my expertise, warm disposition and ability to solve their problems. That is why I feel that having spent 20 years in practice in Nigeria and built a pedigree, I believe that I should revive the column and start talking again to Nigerians.
How were you able to weather the storms of running a dental practice in Nigeria?
It is said that if any venture will survive, it is in the first five years. At the beginning 20 years ago, the rent for our small clinic in Victoria Island was N250,000 per annum. The landlord increased the rent every year, and now it runs into millions. After the first year, we couldn’t sustain the rent. I pleaded for a little time to pay and met a brick wall. Eventually, I went to a finance house, which was a subsidiary of Wema Bank, I took a loan of N1 million. I didn’t know anybody there; I had grace and just walked into the place and introduced myself and discussed my problem. I used my father’s house as a collateral for the loan. I was supposed to pay in 18 months. When the 18 months passed, I could not fully pay back the loan. The bank threatened to sell the house. Miraculously, I got help from the managing director of mortgage bank who was my patient. He bought over the loan because we had a collateral. That gave us two to three years of struggle to find our feet. Essentially, we operated on deficit for five to six years.
In the heat of that, the landlord slammed another huge increase in our rent. Each time I thought I had survived, the rent would go up again. (Chuckling) This happened every year for the first five years. By the sixth year, I was like a car with five flat tyres (including the spare tyre) and very little fuel in the tank.
Were you able to sleep during those years?
(Laughs for long) That time was very turbulent and quite challenging. It was just the grace of God that sustained us. It got to a point where we almost close to deciding to relocate to the mainland, like Surulere or other place. That was also when we had divine intervention. Somebody just took interest in the clinic and decided to invest some money into the practice. He said that he had observed that I was striving to exhibit excellence in my practice. He said he wanted to support the clinic so that we could have peace of mind to serve the public with some ease. That investment was a very soft loan from an angel. People in the equity finance business refer to that kind of person as an “angel investor.” That investment enabled us to expand from one room to three rooms in the same complex where we have been for 20 years. About that time too, God opened a door for me at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Healthcare. The company was trying to re-launch Macleans toothpaste, which had been off the shelf. They were looking for a dentist with reputation, name recognition and expertise. God just fitted me into the profile they needed. They approached me to anchor a public awareness programme on Radio Nigeria FM. The money they paid me greatly helped to stabilise the clinic. Today, we have clinics in Ikorodu and Isolo. And to mark our 20th anniversary, we have just set up an exclusive clinic for our upper class patients who need a bit of privacy, to access dental services and oral care. The exclusive clinic is located in the same complex where we have been for the past 20 years.
I remain committed to educating the public on the benefits of accessing regular oral care. A lot of systemic problems that could prove fatal can be prevented early through proper oral care. That is we keep advising that Nigerians should see a dentist regularly. Don’t wait till you have pain in your mouth or teeth. Visit dentist regularly, don’t go to quacks.
Credit: Sun News Online 📰
• Inspiring – Engr Paul Udogwu, Lagos 🇳🇬
• Very inspiring article – Precious Kingsley, Delta 🇳🇬
• Chaiii!!!! Very inspiring. Anything wey good go first pass through fire oooo. I can only imagine what he went through Running a business on deficit for 5 to 6years – Anthony Udogwu, Lagos 🇳🇬
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Leviticus 6:13: The FIRE shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.
If you stop adding WOODS (the Word of God) and fanning it with PRAYERS, it’ll soon go off!
Leviticus 6:12: “…priest shall burn WOOD on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it…”
One thing Youths lack in their Prayer life is “CONSISTENCY”. They get very Hot today, and become cold tomorrow.
I want to ask: “if a fire is not maintaining it’s degree of hotness, can it cook anything?”
There’s power in consistency. Please fight any trace of Coldness, with a Fast or a personal RETREAT.
Noting should quench your FIRE, not even the ASHES (testimonies).
Leviticus 6:10: “…take up the ASHES which the FIRE hath consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and put them beside the altar. (12) And the FIRE upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out…”
Every cold altar, I command your FIRE to be restored In Jesus Name!
How many of you have broken up with a friend? This style of break-up is, in many ways, worse than a romantic one. I didn’t think breaking up with my best friend could be any worse than it was. That was I until I realised I was splitting with our seven mutual friends at the […]
I already knew this relationship wouldn’t be easy. He was twice my age and fresh out of a relationship that ended badly. But we were in love and determined to fight for what we had. At least that’s what we told ourselves. I expected us to have arguments from time to time, prompted by our […]
For years my parents’ church supported a missionary in Nepal who, by all accounts of her ministry, was the definition of badass. But — and I’m not sure where or how I learned to think this way — even as a young girl, I distinctly remember praying that I would never end up like her.
Why? Not because she was a spiritual powerhouse who was doing amazing work among the young girls of a developing country. Because she was single.
Flash forward a couple of decades to the present day. I was babysitting a family of outrageously adorable children and as we walked to the park, one of the girls asked me if I had a little girl of my own. I said I didn’t. The other sister asked if I was married and I admitted I wasn’t. The first girl stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk and exclaimed, “You mean you don’t have a man?” It took everything in me not to burst out laughing — largely because, as most of us realize when we get older, having a partner often complicates, rather than simplifies your life.
I am a Christian woman in my mid-30s, and I am single. And though I enjoy a life that I would consider abundant — full of friends and family, great professional opportunities, a decent level of financial freedom, and above all else, an extremely deep spiritual relationship with the Creator of the Universe — I recognize that to many younger women, I’m a cautionary tale. Because I am single.
Some of these thoughts came to mind as I read the New York Magazine excerpt of Rebecca Traister’s book, All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. According to the piece, we are living in a new era in our country in which there are more single women (defined as never-married, widowed, divorced, or separated) than married women.
“Perhaps even more strikingly, the number of adults younger than 34 who had never married was up to 46 percent, rising 12 percentage points in less than a decade. For women under 30, the likelihood of being married has become astonishingly small: Today, only around 20 percent of Americans ages 18–29 are wed, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960.”
Curious about the percentage of single women in churches, I decided to look into the numbers myself. According to the Pew Research Religious Landscape Study conducted in 2014, the percentage of unmarried women (including never married, widowed and divorced/separated) amongst evangelical Protestants was 42 percent. Those numbers were similar to that of women in the Catholic Church (40 percent) and among mainline Protestants (45 percent). Those numbers increased in Historically Black Protestant churches to 59 percent.
If I had more time and access to some stats software, I would crosstab these percentages with age in order to get a more complete picture. But as a professional church lady, I’ve also seen these demographics to be empirically true. And any church leader worth his or her salt (pun absolutely intended) knows that communities of faith reap tremendous benefit from having single women — and men — in their congregations.
CHURCH WOULD NOT HAPPEN WERE IT NOT FOR THE DEDICATION OF SINGLE PEOPLE.
Single women tend to serve more in churches than their married counterparts. The apostle Paul’s argument for singleness — that it allows men and women to be more available for God and the church — is borne out time and again when church ladies like me put together service schedules. Church would not happen were it not for the dedication of single people (and to be fair, married couples without children).
And though there tends to be a suspicion of unmarried women and men — at least in the evangelical church (I can’t speak for other branches) — and a stigma that somehow we are less spiritually mature, this has not always been the case. For centuries, the church has seen single men and women join monastic orders or convents and devote themselves to God and to service.
I recently discussed this with an Episcopal priest who spent years in a monastic community. He pointed out that the reason for celibacy in these communities is largely to make oneself more open to divine intimacy with Christ. Certainly this bears out in his life.
I’d never heard a pastor speak more tenderly and passionately about knowing Jesus until I heard this man.
Which brings up an interesting conundrum. I can say from my experience as a single woman in church (again, mostly evangelical branches) that there is much stigma around singleness. Despite the fact that Jesus himself was single and childless, that Paul was single and childless, and that women (many of whom were unmarried) were active in the early church,