Ola Orekunrin: Living in the city of dreams (30 Days, 30 Voices)

I wake up every morning  saying NO. I am saying NO to my people continuing to die because of the time it takes them to get to hospital.  Not just one NO, but 1000 times, NO. Not in my country, not in my Lagos!

As I sit in my office and watch it slowly get darker, I see the aircrafts begin to taxi and the entire apron begins to light up. It’s beautiful.

I love  this city!! Even when I was a struggling entrepreneur without a penny to my name, this city has been good to me. I remember the okada driver who I convinced to run me all the way home from Opebi for just N20. Hours spent waiting at Ojota for the buses to Abuja/Akure. Walking through Oshodi market last week looking for bargain ankara for a wedding on Sunday. The area boys that helped me when my car broke down on third mainland bridge, lol. Sitting at what remains of bar beach , drinking pineapple juice as the sun goes down. Having get another bowl of asun  at an open air resturant in Ikeja. This is my Lagos, the city of dreams.

Last month I spoke to some staff from the Sahara group during their retreat. Before my talk. I asked them to write down what they would like to do before they die. In that small room of about 30 people, there were dreams of building hotels, singing for millions, developing Sahara even further, ending poverty and improving leadership in Nigeria.

I realised that our generation has such a zeal to see Nigeria get better and many of the people that have the ability to incite this change live right here in Lagos. TED Fellow Bahia Shehab taught me that in Islam, if you really mean your no, you do not just say it once. You say 1000 times no!! I wake up every morning  saying NO. I am saying NO to my people continuing to die because of the time it takes them to get to hospital.  Not just one NO, but 1000 times, NO. Not in my country, not in my Lagos!

So I  would like to use this medium to write to the academics that will transform our universities, to the silicon valley entrepreneurs who will develop new technology, to the leaders who will inspire us, to the entertainers who will make us smile, to the educators who will train a new generation, to the architects who will construct a new Lagos ;the envy of the developed world, to the mothers that continue to train their children in the way of the Lord and to the doctors who will continue to try their best to provide effective treatment for their patients.

This is my call to action! Do not just say no, but ONE THOUSAND TIMES NO.

Lets roll our sleeves up and get to work, transforming Lagos from a city of dreams to a city of action. A place we can be truly proud to call home.

– When you want to deny all of the stereotypes that are imposed on you and that try to define your role in the world.When you want to reject almost every aspect of your reality. When you want to decline every political reality you live under. When you want to dismiss all of the options available to you. When you want to negate all the accusations that go hand in hand with your identity. When you want to refuse to be an imitator or follower of the West, yet you also refuse the regressive interpretation of your heritage. ‘A thousand Nos’ are not enough.” Bahia Shehab

(Thanks Bahia, love you,xxxx)


Ola Orekunrin is the Managing Director of Flying Doctors Nigeria Ltd, West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service. She graduated from theUniversity Of York, one of the youngest doctor’s in the UK and has worked in the NHS for nearly ten years . She has a specialist interest in trauma and pre-hospital care, buttressed by her private work at motor-racing circuits across the country. She has published her own book along with several articles in high-profile medical journals and has sat on various influential boards at the British Medical Association.


30 Days 30 Voices series is a series on which young Nigerians share their stories and experiences with other young Nigerians, within our borders and beyond, to inspire and motivate them.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail