How We’ve Managed Anioma Hospital Without Friction for 42 Years—Idiaghe Brothers
By Jerome-Mario Utomi
The ancient city of Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria, houses many hospitals. While some are government-owned such as the General Hospital and Primary Healthcare Centers (PHC), others were established and operated by faith-based organizations like churches. The rest, which of course are higher in number, were midwifed by private individuals.
Among these privately owned hospitals is Anioma Hospital. The subtle meaning of Anioma in the Igbo language is good land.
Aside from the quality of service delivery, which is the hallmark of the hospital in the past 42 years, Anioma Hospital has for other obvious reasons, scored other firsts.
The hospital is the first indigenous private hospital in the ancient city of Agbor and arguably among the league’s most popular, well-known and highly respected by all adult indigenes of the Ika nation and non-indigenes resident in the part of the state.
It was established about 42 years ago by the Ute-okpu-born Medical Doctor, Dr Idiaghe Samuel Ndubuchi Aquila, in the Ika North East Local government area of Delta State.
Aquila who was born in December 1943, trained as a medical doctor at Ahmadu Bello University, where he graduated in 1976.
What is, however, not known to the public, which of course is the most interesting feat, is that the hospital has been managed successfully in the past 42 years of its existential journey by two brothers with neither rancour nor friction.
While Dr Idiaghe Samuel Ndubuchi Aquila is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), his younger brother, Mr Godwin Uwaifo Idiaghe, who is now 74 years old, functions as the hospital administrator.
Narrating to the media how Anioma Hospital came into being, Dr Idiaghe stated that when he graduated from Medical School in 1976 and did his mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), he came back home and enrolled on the then Hospital Management Board where he was employed and posted to Patani as a medical officer.
At this duty post, he was made to cover Patani and Bomadi General Hospitals and used a speedboat as his ambulance. From there, he was posted to General House, Ubiaja and then to Agbor.
“You know that was during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s time when it was mandatory to serve for five years before you could work/establish your own. That said, I would have continued to serve the then Bendel State Government if not for the fact that there was a malicious transfer from Agbor back to Ugu-aja and because of that malicious transfer, I had to resign,” he said.
On how the Anioma Hospital was established, he narrated that, “Anioma Hospital was founded in November 1980. As I said earlier, there was an urge to serve my people and that was why I declined to be retained at Akure after my youth service. I had to come home to serve my people and in serving my people, I chose to establish my hospital in Agbor. It was my patriotism that led me to choose the name Anioma Hospital.
“When I eventually pulled out from serving the government in 1980, because of my record in service in General Hospital Agbor, I pulled out with a lot of crowds. My clinic was booming. Since I couldn’t handle it alone, I decided to involve my younger brother, who was then working at Leventis Lagos. I immediately invited him to be the administrator. I said he should come and help me administer and since then, we have been getting on for the past 42 years.”
Asked what set the stage for peaceful co-existence, he responded, “For two people to get along, there must be a lot of great understanding and tolerance, and the ability to study ourselves. The leader must be accommodating. Whatever you have in this world, you’re not carrying it back to your grave.”
He further attributed their unity to the way they were brought up by their late parents.
“There’s a reward for hard work, there’s a reward for discipline. I believe that all human beings are equal. Everybody cannot be a professor, everybody cannot be an engineer, and everybody cannot be a doctor. Whatever you are, make the best use of that position to the good of mankind and to the good of people around you because a tree can never make a forest,” he said.
On their retirement plan, he said, “As long as God continues to bless me with good health, I will continue to soldier on. A good soldier dies with his boot. Most of my colleagues and my classmates are Professors all over the country and most of them have retired. Some of them also own their private clinics, some are no longer working. I happen to be the WhatsApp administrator of my class group. So, I’m always in touch with them.
“I have always been here in Agbor right from the time I established the hospital apart from my occasional travels outside the country to the US and other parts of the world for vacations.”
Talking about his brother, he stressed that as long as he’s comfortable with me, as long as he has good health, and as long as the two of them are available and can work together in peace, there may be no need for him to contemplate retiring.
Asked to advise upcoming youths on how to handle collaboration in business, he said, “Like I said earlier, birds of the same feather flock together, and work together. No one should leave the other behind.
“There was a rule I made that no staff should intervene in our relationship and we kept to it rigidly. You should know that for you to be a good leader, you must have good followers. The secret of our success is tolerance. The secret is understanding, never carry the things of the world on your head.”
“I have three medical doctors. My first daughter is a chartered accountant and has her PhD in view. My second daughter is a medical doctor, my son is a medical doctor and also a software engineer. He registered for software engineering on his own. My second son is also a medical doctor in the United Kingdom.
“My first son is in and out of health practice. He cannot be tied down to a particular location but anytime I call on him, he’ll always come. Also, for my brother, all his children are graduates and doing well in their fields of endeavours but none of them is a medical doctor,” he concluded.
Corroborating his elder brother, Mr Godwin Uwaifo Idiaghe said he has maintained a frictionless relationship with his sibling because of the understanding between them.