SEPTEMBER IS WORLD ALZHEIMER’S MONTH
SEPTEMBER 21 IS WORLD ALZHEIMER’S DAY
Dr. Gabisiu Ayodele Williams, the 80th birthday celebrant in whose honour we are gathered here today; his most excellent wife, Mrs. Abisola Williams; His Excellency, Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos State represented by the Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole; the Honourable Commissioner of Health, Dr. Jide Idris. His Excellency, Mobolaji Johnson, former Governor of Lagos State; Mr. Fola Adeola, OFR, mni, Co-Founder of the greatest bank in Africa Guaranty Trust Bank, Founder of the great FATE Foundation; Elders of the Williams family of Lagos State; Distinguished ladies and gentleman.
With his wonderful humour and infectious laughter, his social and personal legacy was what he would deposit in the hearts of all those who met him. “”His caring for other people. You don’t go to him with a problem, says a cousin and colleague, ‘without him giving you a solution.’ He liked to counsel. He advised people not to compare. To be contented. To commit part of your salary to savings. And always, he told them, us, to buy shares.’ Daddy has always been proud of his share purchasing savvy and enjoyed discussing these investments.
His legacies are valuable and many: At the Lagos City Council, he spearheaded the war against cholera which was decimating lives in the Lagos by means of two major initiatives which were adopted first as public health public policies in Lagos State and then throughout the states of the Nigerian federation persisting up to today. The first banned the hanging of ram carcases overnight during the Ileya Festival. My father helped save countless lives by sensitising the Moslem community to which at the time, he belonged about the health risks of doing this. From his tenure onwards, rams were killed and their meat shared on the same day. The second involved the prohibition of the use of pales for human waste disposal. The outcome of this crucial move was the widespread use of the water closet and pipe borne water in Lagosian homes. At the Federal level, our father established the Environmental and Operational Health Division at the Ministry, Yaba, joining forces futuristically with environmental activists across the globe to ensure that the health of industry workers against pollution and the effects of rapid urbanisation. During his tenure as Federal Director of Disease Control, Daddy introduced the innovative and wildly popular Health of the Executive programme which eventually gave birth decades later, to his bestselling book, The Health of the Executive. The annual programme which held for almost 7 years saw the leading lights of Nigeria’s industrial, public service and intellectual establishment convening at a retreat held at ASCON, Badagry retreat for 5 days of health check ups and health counselling, sports and games. All under the charismatic, and humorous leadership of Dr. Gabi Williams .
A clear and great thinker, a man well-known for his excellent memory, a brilliant sportsman who rose to become Chairman of the Boxing Association of Nigeria, was suddenly, unexpectedly afflicted in the places of his greatest strengths. In 2008, at Columbia University Medical Centre, our father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative condition of the brain which leads to gradual loss of memory, loss of thinking skills and gradual loss of movement.
Now, it is our turn, his children, wife and friends, to do what he spent his active life doing, standing up for causes bigger than him. Today we take a stand for Daddy. We stand against Alzheimer’s disease holding him hostage. From today we are taking the fight out there across Nigeria, to Alzheimer’s disease.
Gabi Williams Alzheimer’s Foundation will:
1. Develop local case studies of Alzheimer’s disease
2. Partner with public health institutions to promote awareness through traditional and social media.
3. Partner with institutions of higher learning to incorporate Alzheimer’s awareness into curricula of other training activities.
4. Work with government entities to promote and culturally tailor global Alzheimer’s awareness events such as World Alzheimer’s Disease Month in September and Alzheimer’s Awareness Day on September 21st. September is the month of Alzheimer’s disease across the globe.
5. Create an inventory of physician experts and local researchers in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorder.
6. Conduct specialised training workshops on Alzheimer’s Disease –specific care across Nigeria.
We will accomplish our aims with the expert help of an informally constituted advisory council of distinguished experts:
• Professor Olu Akinyanju
• Dr. Seyi Roberts
• Dr. E.O Lawani
• Dr. Segun Osinubi
• Dr. Biodun Osinubi
• Ms. Bola Oshikanlu
• Mr. Remi Oshikanlu
• Dr. Aderemi Desalu mni
• Mrs. Cecelia Oshikanlu and the President of the Advisory Council,
• Balogun Bisi Omidiora
Once again, I welcome all of you to a rich programme in our father’s honour. We start now at 4pm and hope to finish by 9pm so time is truly of an essence. Let this day be a testament to love and wisdom as we celebrate a wonderful man and take our stand against the global epidemic known as Alzheimer’s Disease. Happy 80th birthday to you, Daddy. Wishing you happier and healthier returns of the day.