From an Apomu town boy in Osun State to a world renowned cardiologist, that is the story of Dr.Kingsley Kolapo Akinroye. Vice-President of the World Heart Federation in Geneva, President of the African Heart Network and also Executive Director, Nigerian Heart Foundation, Kingsley's titles are almost inexhaustible.
In November last year, he became the first black in this part of Africa to have been appointed the Honourary Consul of Finland, following the opening of the Honourary Consulate of Finland in Lagos by the Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria, Her Excellency Mrs Riitta Korpivaara. Enjoy our session with him!
The famous saying that investment in knowledge pays the best interest has practically played out in the life of Kingsley Akinroye. Perhaps he would have lived his entire life in obscurity had it not been his avid thirst for knowledge that has made gaining of scholarship a walk-through for him in a world where many struggle endlessly for it.
Scholarship all the way
"The only thing I could think of was to read and go to school. My father was an official of the local government in the 50s and my mother was a prominent trader. My father believed in education because he was one of the foremost men that had the benefit of education in my community.
I had scholarship when I was in secondary school at the Baptist High School, Osun State, in the late 60s; I had scholarship while at the University of Lagos Medical School, from which I graduated in 1975 and I did my post graduate training at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London, and at Greater Glasgow Cardio-Thoracic unit, Meanskirk Hospital on scholarship.
I also had further training in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the University of Kuopio in Finland and at the Finnish National Public Health Institute (KTL) still on scholarship. Most of what I've done in life as fellowship programmes has been on scholarship too! Maybe God just directed me to what I should read and always made me pursue knowledge.
I could remember going to work voluntarily with my father at the local government during holidays and on weekends simply because I didn't want to be idle at home. I do not know whether that contributed, but I know I just wanted to be meaningfully occupied at such times. This is not to say I didn't play soccer and other games as a child", he explained.
No formula about life
Akinroye, however, cannot attribute his success to his commitment to gaining knowledge as he went on to explain: "I believe it is God's favour, blessing and grace that have made me whatever I feel I am today. I cannot talk about any qualities that have taken me to this stage, but can only just say 'thank you' to the Lord because I really do not believe there is any formula about life. More importantly, I continue to learn the power of God, as the one that determines everything. I can only advise that we imbibe the culture of honesty in everything we do, albeit we cannot be a hundred percent perfect".
Cardiologist turned consul
Like he indeed noted, only 'God's grace' could have made a cardiologist who did not in any way specialize in international affairs a Honourary Consul of Finland, one of the most competitive economies in the world.
"I was actually surprised about the appointment because I didn't apply in any way. Usually, most consuls are indigenes of Finland! The day I was informed about the appointment, I was very surprised because, basically, Finland had actually never appointed any consul in this part of Africa! I really do not know what they've seen in me because I'm not the first person that has gone to Finland to study", he said vivaciously.
Between Nigeria and Finland
As a Honourary Consul, Akinroye is expected to be a bridge between Nigeria and Finland, especially in the areas of business, trade and culture.
"Finland is very well known for education, information technology and communication, and I hope to see how that could be used to benefit our health sector, which is my area of specialization. Also, as indicated in the corruption index by Transparency International, you find that down below the ladder is Nigeria, identified as the 35th most corrupt country in the world, while Finland is up the ladder, among the first three countries in the world with least corruption. That is an area from which I want my country to learn. We can do it; there's nothing impossible. If you also know the history of Finland, you'll find out they worked hard to get to where they are", he enthused.
Healthcare in Nigeria
As we rounded-up our session, Dr.Kingsley Kolapo Akinroye could not hide his distaste with healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
In his view, albeit its standard seems poor too, education in Nigeria is better than healthcare because the top ten universities in Nigeria could afford to compete with top ten in Europe and America while the top ten hospitals in Nigeria cannot in any way be compared with their counterparts abroad or even in some other African countries.