• Moving story of ‘okada’ rider who became medical doctor

From Sola Ojo,Kaduna  

Dr. Godwin Yohanna Abrak, President, Association of Resident Doctors, Barau Diko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna State, started off as an operator of commercial motorcycle otherwise known as “Okada.” He had to battle his way through thick and thin to become a medical doctor.

He was born 34 years ago into the family of Yohanna Gishiri in Madakia, Zango Kataf Local Government. Second of seven siblings, his dream was to become an artist or an electrical engineer. But, he ended with a degree in Medical Science Laboratory from the University of Jos (UNIJOS). Later, he earned a degree in Medicine from the Kaduna State University (KASU) and partly from a Ugandan university.

He told Daily Sun in Kaduna: “I was thinking of studying Electrical Engineering or Fine Arts. I used to do a lot of sketching, drawing, sculpturing and designing gift items at that time. 

But something happened that changed what I eventually studied. I fell sick while I was in Junior Secondary School 3. I was taken to the General Hospital, Kafanchan, Jema’a LGA for treatment.

“Along the line, I sighted one of my seniors in school as one of the student nurses taking my details. I was happy and at the same time impressed by how far he had gone, dressed neatly in his white medical apron.

“That same afternoon, a sick old man was crying in pain and medical staffers were not forthcoming. The only nurse on duty was busy attending to other patients whom I thought were also in difficulty.

That was how the old man cried in pains and gave up before help could reach him.

“That was the first corpse I saw as a child. That was the day I decided to become a doctor, so that I could help people in pain. That was in 2003. That dream was realised 15 years after in 2018, but not without pain.

“I almost lost the dream of becoming a medical doctor. I love dancing.

So, I joined a group of dancers to master the skill. As a village boy, I looked forward to some boys from the city of Kaduna with new dance steps.

“These were guys who drank and smoked. But because I easily got irritated with smell of smoking, I distanced myself from them, though I enjoyed the fun.

“I almost forgot my dream. As an artist then, I was making some money.

I used to give them money to buy ‘aso-ebi’, smoke and drink for the group. I did this out of ignorance though.”

He said his life turned full swing after a pastor noticed his truancy.

He offered to give him N4,000 if he passed his examination very well:

“That was how I gradually detached myself from those boys.

“To pass well and claim the money, I approached a boy, Amodu Kachi, who always came first in the whole of the SSS1 set. He shared his reading strategy with me. He gave me a small book written by Pastor W F Kumuyi titled: ‘Making of a Successful Youth.’ That book changed my perspective to life.

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“At the end of that term, I came first, doing better than Kachi who gave me that book. So, the betting with that pastor worked a great deal for me.”

Abrak rode a motorcycle in Kachia to support his family and his education. He could not register for JAMB immediately after leaving secondary school because there was no money:

“I had to farm and drive ‘Okada’ to raise money. You may want to ask what about my father? Yes, he was working, but he was drinking very heavily. That was where the chunk of his money was going. We grew up seeing him like that. But God helped him to quit drinking much later before he passed away in 2018.

“I moved to Kaduna, the state capital, to ride ‘Okada’ and make more money. My route then was Narayi, Chikun LG. While doing that, I was processing my admission into UNIJOS, where I eventually studied Medical Laboratory Science.

“After my first degree, the state government employed me as a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS). I was posted to the General Hospital, Kachia.

“While at the hospital, the opportunity to study Medicine and Surgery came. Unfortunately, I was not qualified to go for it because I had not spent the number of years in service required. But I said to myself that this was an opportunity I had been looking forward to.

“That was how I tendered my resignation letter to pursue my dream through a remedial programme. When I resigned, I knew I had to face the future squarely because I had no sponsor.

“Meanwhile, I sold the two motorcycles we had then. My father was also involved in an accident and broke his legs while trying to borrow money for me.

“At KASU as a medical student, I looked for means of genuine income to augment my needs. I became a car washer around NAF Club in Malali and Majin Gari. I was shuttling between the two places in the day and working as a night Lab Attendant at Eco Scan by Katsina Road, Kaduna, and Medicare opposite Magajin Gari, all within Kaduna North LG. I had to keep these jobs to sustain my studies.

“While doing those things, a cousin of mine needed to undergo a surgery by an orthopaedic surgeon. I was in the theatre when the surgeon requested for blood.

“I quickly moved out and returned quickly with pants of blood. The surgeon was amazed at the speed I carried out that assignment. I then told him I was a lab scientist, who was then a medical student.

“He asked if I wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon as well and I replied yes. He asked me to come closer and get the necessary kits, which I got the following day.

“That was where my dream of becoming a surgeon began. By that time, I no longer washed cars. I had started assisting Dr. Yusuf Nuhu, Medical Director, Rafa Orthopaedic Hospital, Barnawa, Kaduna. He met with a few of his colleagues.

“They met one senior staff, Dr. Omole, who I had earlier contacted to offer me a driving job. She remembered and recommended me. 

“They also met our anatomy lecturer, Dr. Oyewale and he also recommended me. That was how they called me and pledged to support my studies.

“Right there and then, they asked me the amount I owed and I told them. Luckily for me, they were to launch Dauda Memorial Foundation the following day. That was how they issued me a check for N100,000 to clear all my debts. All these happened in less than 24 hours. That was a miracle call for me.

They started giving me monthly upkeep. Then, our university, KASU was battling with accreditation. They decided to send some of us to Uganda

to complete our studies. That was how the dream was realised.”