In the spirit of the upcoming IFUMSA elections, MediVoice is committed to bringing you vital news ensuing in this pivotal period. Consequently, here is our interview with an aspirant for the position of IFUMSA’s Welfare Secretary:
Medivoice: Hello, can you introduce yourself to IFUMSAITES? (Name, Class, position you’re contesting for, and any other important thing we need to know).
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): I am Afeez Oladimeji, popularly known as Saraki.
I am a member of the Old Part 4 class and I’m contesting for the position of Welfare Secretary.
Medivoice: Can you recount to MediVoice what the roles of IFUMSA’s Welfare Secretary are?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): According to Article IV, Section 24 of the IFUMSA Constitution, the roles of the Welfare Secretary include:
(i) Shall be in charge of the general welfare of all members of the association.
(ii) Shall be the Chairman of the Association’s Welfare Committee.
(iii) Shall represent the Association in the Faculty as well as the college welfare Board/Committee.
(iv) Shall be responsible for providing recreational facilities for the Association members
(v) Shall submit the names of 6 members (not more than 1 from each year of study) in order to join the welfare committee subject to the approval of the SRB.
(vi) Shall be a member of the Medical Students’ hostel executive committee.
Beyond the roles specified in the constitution, the Welfare Secretary is responsible for ensuring the overall wellness of IFUMSAites. They are also to meet the welfare needs of members, and create a sense of togetherness in the association.
Medivoice: Are there specific reasons why you chose to vie for this position and not others? Would you mind sharing?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): I have answered similar questions over the last few days. This is because people think I may be better suited for some other roles.
However, considering all that has happened over the last year, a lot can still be done regarding the welfare of Ifumsaites.
We have a long way to go concerning the optimal welfare of Ifumsaites. This includes how we can make them enjoy the full benefits of belonging to the association.
What’s the essence of belonging to an association that doesn’t care about wellbeing?
How are we encouraging our members to keep their mental health solid? Moreso, in the face of the endless challenges of medical school.
A lot of questions need answers and that’s why I’m throwing my hat in the ring.
Medivoice: How do you envision addressing the diverse needs of our association members through the role of the welfare secretary?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): I understand that the welfare needs of IFUMSAites vary. As the Welfare Secretary, I intend to ensure that IFUMSAites know that their feelings are valid. This includes challenges they may encounter in the course of medical school training. Additionally, that they have an association that cares about them.
I will work on confidential communication channels for expressing their concerns, and collaborate with them on solutions to these challenges.
I will collaborate with the class representatives and care team counselors. This is in a bid to identify those who have challenges but are scared of seeking help. This fear may either be due to the possibility of being disregarded or a possible breach of confidentiality.
There will also be various mental health workshops. Additionally, there will be a mental health summit on how to address the peculiar challenges of medical school.
Medivoice: How do you plan to foster a sense of inclusivity and support for all members, considering potential differences in age, background, and personal circumstances?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): Over the years, we have recorded issues regarding IFUMSAites’ lack of interest in activities.
In my first few months in medical school, I was a loner. I avoided all the orientation events including the Freshers’ picnic and trip to Erin-Ijesha Waterfall. I also didn’t attend my class dinner.
IFUMSA used to feel like an association I belonged to but had no business with.
However, with more interactions with my classmates, attending events organized by the association, IFUMSA became a home for me. With time, I became interested in contributing my quota to the growth of the association.
If elected as the Welfare Secretary, I intend to work with the office of AGS on hosting Welcome Weeks for members of the association in the first year of premed, preclinical, and clinical (100 level, 200 level, and 400 level) classes. During these weeks, we will have various activities. This will range from academic orientation, and recreational activities, and also reaching out to them individually.
I will also collaborate with the leadership of each class on establishing ‘IFUMSAites Helping IFUMSAites’ scheme. Through this, we can learn how to be our brothers and sisters’ keepers. Hence, we can collaborate on ensuring the wellness of everyone.
Medivoice: What strategies would you employ to identify and address emerging welfare issues within our association, ensuring proactive and effective solutions?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): To identify and address emerging welfare issues, I would implement a robust feedback system to encourage members to share their concerns. This includes regular surveys, mental health forums, and the #TalkToIfumsaCareTeam number. I intend to work on this in collaboration with the Care team. I will collaborate with stakeholders like the class representatives, the College Welfare Team, and others on quick identification of urgent welfare needs. As such, quick solutions will be provided to the problems.
Medivoice: Can you provide examples of initiatives or programs you have successfully implemented in the past to enhance the well-being of a community or group?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): In my role as the constituency leader of my class, I have worked on various initiatives to improve the welfare of my members. One of the initiatives includes sending text messages to check up on members of the class during breaks.
I am also involved in mental health rallies on campus.
As a member of Junior Chambers International( JCIN) OAU, I was part of the organization committee of a Dual Initiative project. This project featured an outreach program to the Enuwa community in Ile-Ife, while also giving them fruits and supplements. I also attended to and counselled members of the host community on the day of the event.
Medivoice: Judging from previous IFUMSA governments and their shortcomings, what are you bringing in to better alleviate the welfare of IFUMSAITES?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): I intend to focus on collaborations for sustainable initiatives.
I intend to work on creating a sense of belonging and fostering inclusivity among IFUMSAites, prioritizing mental health initiatives, current accommodation issues, and improved living conditions for our members in their various hostels.
Medivoice: Can you share your approach to handling confidential and sensitive information related to the well-being of our members?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): I would prioritize strict adherence to the privacy of sensitive information as any form of breach can lead to a lack of trust, defeating the entire purpose of Inclusive Welfarism.
I will work on secure communication channels, also limit access to sensitive information. As such, the process will only involve stakeholders who would have been trained on confidentiality protocols.
Medivoice: What advantage do you think you have over your competitors?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): Let me start by saying it’s great that IFUMSAites have more than 1 person contesting for the Welfare Secretary for the first time in recent years. The last 2 Welfare Secretaries were appointed by the Presidents. Having more than one person contesting to take over the responsibility of Welfarism and the wellbeing of IFUMSAites means that IFUMSAites should look forward to great welfare-related initiatives during the next administration.
What sets me apart?
One phrase: Skin-in-the-game.
I have been on both sides of receiving and working on welfare initiatives as an Ifumsaite and a constituency leader. I am approachable and have connected with IFUMSAites from all classes over the years, interacting with them as human beings with diverse challenges and accomplishments. In January, I began living in the Clinical Students Hostel and I understand the living conditions of the residents. I have come up with feasible and timely plans that will solve the welfare challenges of IFUMSAites and improve their well-being.
Medivoice: Any final words for IFUMSAITES?
Afeez Oladimeji (Welfare Secretary Aspirant): Beyond my aspiration, it is time for us to work on how we can make life better for everyone around us.
Medical school sometimes feels like a zero-sum game where one person has to lose for the other person to win. However, if we work together in unity, everyone can win; the sky is enough for everyone to fly.
After reading this, you should think of how you can make life better for the other person, for your friends and colleagues. A little checkup on your friends, sweet words on their bad days, and trying to help them solve some of their challenges will go a long way in making this world go round for everyone.
I look forward to a future where there is INCLUSIVE Welfarism. Where no one is left behind. I invite you to join the movement.