Dr Chinedu Anthony Umeadi is an accomplished Canadian based Medical Doctor whose experience in medical practice, leadership management, research, mentorship and service development belies his young and ebullient age. He hails from Abagana in Njikoka LGA of Anambra State and the YPP senatorial candidate in Anambra Central. He spoke to ANAMBRA PEOPLE about politics, his ambition, Anambra state and sundry issues. Excerpts;
TELL US THE JOURNEY ABOUT YOUR LIFE, A LITTLE FROM CHILDHOOD?
I was born on the 19th of June, 1975. I attended Federal Government College, Okigwe and afterwards proceeded to study microbiology briefly at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, but did an inter university transfer to Abia State University to study medicine and graduated in the year 2000.
At the University, I was active on all the spheres of academic and social life particularly student politics. Immediately after my graduation, I did my internship at Federal Medical Center, Owerri and my youth service was at the General Hospital, Owerri. I relocated to Abuja after my service to start my career. In the course of my career, I realized I needed to develop myself more in the area of public health and Nigeria cannot offer that opportunity. I didn’t want to leave Nigeria, I love my country but I knew I needed to build better capacity in my field. In the year 2004, I left for the UK to further my studies in the School of Medicine, Liverpool where I bagged a diploma in tropical medicine and master’s degree at the University of Liverpool.
I went to the Republic of Ireland and did my basic training in mental health and then came back to the UK and did my higher learning in mental health and became a consultant psychiatrist. I finished my PhD in public health and had my practice there for quite some time. I was very accomplished in the UK and started thinking about Nigeria. I have always had a desire to give back to my country. I started contributing to my alma mater, the Abia State University and I was bestowed with an honorary doctorate degree that really spurred me to do more by establishing Dr. Chinedu Umeadi Foundation.
However, the UK system is rigid and offers one little freedom and I wanted to be coming home the more to continue giving back. This was how I started looking towards Canada. The practice in Canada is easier and more flexible, so I had the needed time to come home often.
LET’S TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT IN A SOCIETY?
The stability of mental health is really important in a society; unfortunately in Nigeria, when you mention mental health, people imagine a deranged man walking bare foot on the road. This stereotype actually becomes a barrier for people who need medical help and care. In the western world, the reverse is the case. I have had a practical experience in my community where an assumed mad man accosted me, and when I started giving him medication, after a while to the astonishment of the community he became well and has been till today.
Most of these cases are total lack of awareness in this clime; for example, depression kills a lot of people in our society, likewise anxiety and dementia. Substance abuse is one of the drivers of criminality in our society but we don’t just pay enough attention to all these. These issues can be addressed by government through adequate awareness.
YOU FOUNDED DR CHINEDU UMEADI FOUNDATION, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH IT AND HOW FAR HAVE YOU REALIZED YOUR VISION?
First, it is in my nature to give, from my days as a young man, I have always been charitable. I share every little thing I have and also enjoy mentoring and adding value to people. Therefore at some point I realized I needed to structure all these properly and organize them better, luckily God has blessed me with the resources to help facilitate these things and I am very grateful for that.
The Dr Chinedu Umeadi Foundation has four objectives :
- Supporting Education
- Healthcare Delivery
- Youth Empowerment
- Poverty Alleviation
These four areas are at the core of human capital development.
In Education, we have given several scholarships; we equally organize annual science schools competition in Anambra State.
In health care, we do organize outreach from time to time; we also intervene in health issues and medical bills.
On youth empowerment, we organize soccer competitions and sponsor pageants and mentoring programs for the youth.
We have done a lot too in poverty alleviation, supporting small businesses, offering grants to women to support their micro businesses.
LET’S TALK POLITICS, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO THE MURKY WATERS OF POLITICS?
I have always been involved in politics right from my student days. I was well known around the school as the man to meet during electioneering with a reputation of being an excellent organizer and executioner. In addition, my sterling reputation in managing funds became an advantage, so I had a good understanding of politics from an early stage. I was a card carrying member of the Labour party in the UK and have always told myself that someday, I would play active role in politics.
Secondly, I have had dreams to become involved in the administration of my country, probably as a minister of health, but then I realized that our politicians are not doing enough in terms of proper representation of our people, it is more about personal gains. I believe I have what it takes to do a far better job, considering my character, requisite knowledge, experience and also the courage to fold my sleeves and do the politicking. I don’t believe in sitting on the fence or on the sidelines and be complaining without doing anything to correct the anomaly. I want to go there and set an example of what it means to serve the people.
YOU ARE RUNNING AGAINST A SERVING SENATOR, A TWO TIME HOUSE OF REP MEMBER AND A FORMER SENATOR AND FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE APGA, AS A GREENHORN WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE YOUR CHANCES?
I don’t go into any competition without the intention of winning and I am very competitive. Yes, I understand the task ahead, I equally know it is massive, but we are in the era of ‘polling booth revolution’, in an era of “let the right man do the job”. The Nigerian voters are more conscious and they can now identify the most qualified candidates. I know I am more qualified than my competitors in terms of education, accomplishments and commitment. The only angle they might have a presumed edge is political structure, because they have been around servicing poverty, taking advantage of people’s poverty status. But then you can’t have everything, what matters is one’s strategy. I have my plans well set out. I just know I am well prepared.
DON’T YOU THINK THAT YOUR PARTY THE YPP WILL BE DISADVANTAGED CONSIDERING IT’S NOT AMONGST THE BIG POLITICAL PARTIES?
Well, I agree that running on a big party platform has its benefit, but then my choice of the YPP is intentional. In the big parties, you have the culture of God-fatherism and personally, I do not want any entanglement when I am elected. I want to be free to serve my people as a Senator, no encumbrances of any kind. Moreover, the YPP is a progressive party, growing stronger and getting bigger and better and you know we already have a serving Senator, Ifeanyi Uba, therefore things can only get better.
ANAMBRA IS A STATE WITH HUGE POTENTIAL, WHAT IDEAS DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO IMPLEMENT IN ORDER TO ACTUALIZE THESE POTENTIALS?
Security is on top of the list, without security you can’t do much. Security affects the economy in huge proportion and today, Anambra traders are losing a lot of their market share to Lagos and Abuja. However, I believe that Prof Soludo is on top of the security challenges, but all hands must be on deck.
Secondly, we need to aggressively invest in infrastructure, our roads, schools and health care systems in order to drive growth and development.
THE NIGERIAN DIASPORA CONTRIBUTE ABOUT 20 BILLION DOLLARS TO THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY BUT THEN A SCHOOL OF THOUGHT IS WORRIED ABOUT BRAIN DRAIN IN NIGERIA, WILL YOU SUPPORT YOUNG NIGERIANS SEEKING TO TRAVEL AND LIVE IN OTHER COUNTRIES?
You can’t dictate for people on how to live their lives, it’s a free world. People leave for reasons. If Nigeria is making progress as a country, I am certain young people will stay; stopping them isn’t a solution after all, there are so many unemployed graduates still in the country. My only concern is the ones in the Diaspora who are not thinking home, there are many of our people (Ndigbo) scattered all over the world. There are communities I visit and feel like I am in Enugu or somewhere in the East. We need to build trust so we can tap into these huge Diasporan resources and develop our homeland.