By: James Bwala
It did not come to many as a surprise. Professor Ahmed Ahidjo, a renowned Interventional Radiologist deserved it. It was a result of hard work and for those who know the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, UMTH before and the glaring difference today, one would agree to the facts on ground. It could not have been possible but one man working with data makes it happen. Today, the UMTH as being referred to is the largest hospital in Nigeria housing some of the best brains in the medical profession.
When I got the hint of his reappointment as CMD last night by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, I knew it would happen. The note I received reads: “President Muhammed Buhari has approved the reappointment of Professor Ahmed Ahidjo as the Chief Medical Director University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital for a second term tenure of 4years”. I recalled our discussion during an interview with the Professor when my colleague, having heard him speaking on his achievements and award, concluded that for his achievements there must be a concomitant agreement for him to continue with the good work he is currently undertaking at the UMTH.
The reappointment which was conveyed to him by the Hon. Minister of Health on Friday, July 1, 2022 at the conference room of the FMH is to take effect from 3rd September, 2022. In the last three and a half years of his administration at UMTH, Professor Ahmed Ahidjo has brought a lot of changes in the management of the health system. The Professor of Interventional Radiology has combined both technical and managerial skills to change the way and manner things are done in the hospital making staff attend the best practices through behavioral change.
While congratulating Professor Ahidjo on his reappointment, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire reminded him of the enormous responsibilities of his office and the yearnings of the people for effective and responsive healthcare services.
The Minister also advised the CMD to justify the confidence reposed on him by the President, Muhammadu Buhari commander in chief of the armed forces federal republic of nigeria and urged him to work with all stakeholders to ensure industrial harmony in the health sector and in support of Mr President’s Change Agenda.
The Professor has carved a niche for himself in his ability to turn around the physical structure and operational structure of the hospital within a short period of his appointment as CMD. During an interview recently, he answered some boggling questions about management skills he acquired to be able to work wonders in the administration of the UMTH.
According to him, he only had leadership training in health. However, having been a leader since his days as student’s union leader, Professor Ahmed Ahidjo developed and learnt by the ropes over a period of time to manage people and resources in making the difference in any area of development that he found himself. Therefore, when he came on board as the CMD for the first time he came equipped with knowledge on what is expected and what to do to change the old system and to bring in new and workable ideas that translated into what the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital is today. From a 630 bed rated hospital to a first class hospital and the largest in Nigeria with 1200 bed capacity.
Recently, Professor Ahmed Ahidjo was recognized by the National Productivity Centre and selected for an award where Mr. President was in attendance and so much was said about him from being a specialist to a good Manager of human and capital resources. One of the areas for recognition is that he was the first person to introduce Interventional Radiology Service in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
Also the award was as a result of the work he has done at the Maiduguri Teaching Hospital to free bed space from the female and male medical ward through the construction of an extension for an 85 beds extended Kidney centre, to building the first stroke dedicated centre in the whole of West Africa, a 150 bed capacity as well as building another 150 bed capacity trauma centre, which was dedicated centre for the treatment of burns
Professor Ahmed Ahidjo held from Askira/Uba local government area of Borno state, in northeast Nigeria. He is from a village called Yimirgo and started his early primary school at Yimirgo Primary school from where moved to Government Secondary School Uba where he did his form one to three.
In those days, they would choose the best student to go to science schools. So he was chosen to go to WAKA Biu science school to complete his secondary school. From there he went to ABU Zaria then it was the school of Basic Studies, where he did his A levels. He return to Borno state and register at the University of Maiduguri to study medicine. Thereafter, he started his residency training programme – that is the Post Graduate medical training to become a Consultant.
Professor Ahmed Ahidjo was at the West African College of Surgeon faculty of Radiology and also the National Post Graduate College of Nigeria bagging two fellowships with specialization in Radiology.
Immediately after that, he felt the need to further his education, so he went to the Medical University of Vienna in Austria where he studied Interventional Radiology and became the first person in the West African sub-region to do interventional Radiology. He was also at the University of Washington to further study interventional Radiology as a specialty. He completed that study within a year and returned home to establish interventional Radiology in Nigeria.
Administratively, He was Head of Radiology Department at the University of Maiduguri and University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital for almost ten years. He became the pioneer Head of Radiography Department to start training of Radiographers in the 19th Northern states. He also became the Deputy Provost College of Medical Sciences for a period of two years. Thereafter, he became the Provost, College of Medical Sciences University of Maiduguri.
He was also the secretary National PostGraduate Medical College of Nigeria in charge of Radiology training in the country for a period of four years in Lagos. From there he became the Chief Medical Director –UMTH. Within the period he also worked at the World Head Organization’s Headquarters in Geneva in Charge of all the Radiology devices globally with 198 member countries.
He was also a Research Scholar at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Maryland. Since becoming the CMD for over three years now he has been working in the office.
Professor Ahmed Ahidjo is happily married with Children. How wishes are big and part of that is the transformation being witnessed at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital in Borno state.