ICOMAA-NA - Presidents Annual Report

Jul 02, 2010

It is my pleasure to  welcome all the great Icomites present here to this year's ICOMAA-NA AGM – distinguished teachers of medicine, dentistry, nursing,  researchers/academics, clinical physicians, physiotherapists, pharmacists and other colleagues in the health profession.   I must mention the conspicuous absence of our Advisers – Professors AOK Johnson and Funsho Famuyiwa at this year's AGM.  I received a message from Professor Johnson who  unavoidably could not be here, though he had been planning to attend. I also understand that Professor Famuiwa is currently out of the country. They have been of immense value to the excutive and ICOMAA-NA in general.

Just as the immediate past president of ICOMAA-NA, Dr Preston Ukoli, indicated in his 2008 annual report that  2008 was a peculiar final year of his three-year term, I am also stating that the final portion of our two-year term is in it's own way peculiar.  For Dr Ukoli, 2008 marked the first the first time we had a President Elect (in the person of myself) in office at the time the incumbent was in the process of exiting office. For the current executive, we have a President Elect who is the current Vice President (Dr Kunle Koya). This gives some ray of hope, in the sense that this might be an indication that the Association is in the process (hopefully) of stabilizing. The other peculiarity is the fact that for the first time as well, ANPA had its meeting in Nigeria in 2009. As such, rather than not holding an AGM that year, ICOMAA-NA made effort to hold a ‘stand alone' AGM. However, for technical reasons, mostly resulting from registration failure on the then newly constructed ICOMAA-NA website, the meeting could not hold, despite advanced arrangements.

A major focus of this report and this year's AGM is to highlight the inherent challenges to a general active participation in ICOMAA-NA and to challenge attendees at this AGM to proffer practical solutions to these challenges, for the survival of this great organization of our great medical school, the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. I will therefore implore all present at this meeting to join together in determination and collectively come up with new ideas on how not only to solidify ICOMAA-NA but also on how to effect its consistent growth, impact and contribution to our College back home and to the community at large.

Report on Activities 2008/09 - 2009/10

1. Core Issues Mitigating Against ICOMAA-NA Growth:
The real fact of the matter is that ICOMAA-NA has been struggling for survival for about the past seven years, bearly held in place by only a handful of executive members over the past years. There is no doubt that ICOMAA-NA has what I will call a 'crisis of survival'. If we do not want the attrition of ICOMAA-NA, we all need to stand up and 'step up to the plate' and put in the sacrifice that is required to get this baby to grow up. ICOMAA-NA has been a baby for too long. I believe we all subscribe to the survival and growth of ICOMAA-NA, and not its attrition. Of the multiple issues mitigating against the growth of this association, I will single out two major ones at this time:

A.  Lack of commitment from those who volunteer to be in the executive
The executive holds the key to the growth of the association. If the members are committed to the cause, they will not only come up with pooled ideas on how to move the association forward but will also follow through. Certainly, some ideas may not work, but some will definitely produce fruit. Given that our schedules and commitments in this society are enormous, volunteering to be in these capacities are sacrifices, but once we volunteer, we need to indeed put in the sacrifice. Each member needs to rise up to the commitment. Only two or three can not possibly do the work of the executive. Our collective and committed  efforts will yield satisfactory results in the end.

B.  Growth in (active) Membership – not just in membership BUT ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP.

(A) above is what I see as the main ingredient for growth in membership.  It requires regular/persistent contacts through mass and individual emails and word of mouth on a 1:1 basis. Once membership is becoming established, having ongoing practically viable/executable projects that are well publicized will further result in growth. Without a committed executive, this can not happen.

2.  Executive Committee Meetings
In the first year of the current executive, we had fairly regular executive meetings until August of 2009. Much of our meeting then was directed at planning and working towards holding ICOMAA-NA AGM combined with a scientific conference (CME). We thought ICOMAA-NA should do this on its own since ANAP was going to hold in Nigeria. Please see below for some details on this.  I must admit that generally, our commitment/executive meeting attendance was mostly unsatisfactory.

3.  Fund Raising Activities and Projects
Enlarging our active membership is key to healthy funds for ICOMAA-NA. Another key, which is inseparable from membership, is commitment from the executive in coming up with focused fund raising strategies, which the membership will also flow into. These two are closely interwoven.

Fund raising activities embarked upon/pledges also need to be followed up.

I can say that the Association is not in a buoyant financial state. I also need to stress the fact that Dr Preston Ukoli single-handedly offset the 2008 AGM expenses. To this we express deepest appreciation.

4.    Attempted 2009 'Stand alone' AGM
Because ANPA was going to be held in Nigeria in 2009, ICOMAA-NA executive thought and agreed that we should still hold an AGM combined with a scientific conference (CME). We worked energetically on this plan and got it to the final stage. We thought having a website would facilitate increased membership and registration for this scientific meeting. Knowing our tough individual commitments, we hired a lady (never paid for her effort and expense of travelling from NJ to MD), who had experience in organizing alumni meetings,  as  ‘Executive Director' for the 2009 meeting. She did an excellent job in visiting the hotel in MD and setting things in place for the meeting. We signed a contract with the hotel. The first of potential attendees went to the then recently designed web site but could not register. This was contrary to the assurance given us by the web designer. This occurred so close to the meeting dates  that we could not make any other alternative registration arrangements. As such the meeting could not hold.

On 10/30/09, the hotel in MD levied us $25,457.00 as cancellation fee (per the contract we signed).  Our attempts to communicate with them Re: reasons for not holding the meeting and to request for a later date met with hostility. I then had an idea to contact an Attorney, to contact the hotel in our behalf and to represent  that we did not deliberately cancel. The executive agreed to this. The Attorney wrote to the Hotel (certified return mail) stating the above reasons and requesting that we hold the meeting in early May 2010. He followed up with calls but the hotel did not give any definite response. The dates we requested passed and the Attorney indicated to me that legally, that amounts to the end of the issue, since the hotel failed to honor our request to hold the meeting and that by default we are no longer obligated to the hotel. This Attorney has not been paid for his efforts in getting us off the hook of such a ‘mind-bogging cancellation fee'.

5.   Relationship with the College and ICOMAA Worldwide
A meaningful and enduring relationship/communication with our College and ICOMAA Worldwide can only be established and sustained when we are standing and with our commitment and growth. Despite the challenges however, ICOMAA-NA provided financial support for Dr Ola Akinboboye and his team towards Life Support Training for the College of Medicine, Ibadan, in 2009.

6.    Conclusion
I acknowledge all the members of the current executive for their effort during this period, given each individual's great professional and other commitments. I particularly acknowledge Dr Preston Ukoli, the immediate past President. He has indeed been a notable pillar that has kept ICOMAA-NA going.

We worked energetically in the planning and organization of what was to be the first 'stand alone' AGM and scientific conference for ICOMAA-NA.  Even though it was disappointing that all the effort put failed to materialize, I personally believe it was far better the effort was made rather than not being made at all. I believe there are many circumstances in life where this statement holds true to life. The better part is that lessons learned from the failure may (rather, should) become stepping stones to attaining greater heights both in the near and long term.

There are several examples of such instances I am sure we know of. Therefore I implore the next executive to learn from our past failures and to use those lessons to take ICOMAA-NA to higher levels. One obvious lesson is that ICOMAA-NA needs a fully functional web site, in addition to the commitment issue. ICOMAA-NA can some day (not far) hold a stand alone AGM and more. This is an understatement, given our number and strength in North America. We can do it, We can make ICOMAA-NA to thrive. Let us do it!!!

Long Live ICOMAA-NA, Long Live ICOMAA Worldwide, Long Live Ibadan College of Medicine, Long Live University of Ibadan.

Thank you all for coming. I wish you all a successful AGM and I pray for a safe journey back home for all.

Shola Olubodun, MD
National Harbor, MD

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