When it comes to reasons for relocating abroad, every immigrant has an interesting story to tell — Dr. Toluwani Ayodeji Binutu felt limited in Nigeria, in more ways than one. Since relocating to the United kingdom, he feels better supported, better trained, and better paid as a Medical Doctor than in Nigeria.
This young medical doctor is one of those Nigerians making the nation proud by their immeasurable contribution to science and Art. Other than being a medical practitioner, Dr. Binutu is also a visual artist and a 'digital content' health teacher.
Bolanle Akinlade speaks with Binutu about his growing up in Nigeria, career choice, interest in arts, relocation abroad, cultural influence, leadership and the possibility of returning to Nigeria.
Read the full interview below.
On growing up in Nigeria.
I’m the second of four children born to Mr. and Mrs. Binutu. My childhood was a fairly protected one and I think this was a very deliberate decision by my parents. You see, my parents were not wealthy by any material standard, but they did give us all we needed to grow up into self-sufficient individuals.
We grew up in a rough neighborhood in Lagos, where there were kids with a lot of vices. My parents didn’t want us to get caught up in this, so they kept a close watch over us.
This singular decision helped shape my life because it gave me a unique point of view about life. I saw the hardship that people in the neighborhood faced, my family, included, but I was not negatively affected by it. And seeing people face tough times helped shape my decisions growing up.
Why medicine?I pursued Medicine because I wanted to help people. Back then, I thought of Medicine as the best way to make a difference. Even though I now know that this is not necessarily true, I’m still happy that I went ahead to study the course because it does help me to make the world a better place, one patient at a time.
Aside from being a Medical Doctor, I am a visual artist. I run an Art company with my brother called Pencils n brushes artworks.
My art company is based in Lagos, Nigeria. Back in Nigeria, I was very active in creating Art. Here in the UK, I’m still setting up some things for the company but I do more admin work online now that I am not physically present in Nigeria.
Other things you enjoy
I enjoy creating digital content, reading, working out, and business. Actually, I enjoy a lot of things. I believe that life is fun when you are creating or building something. So I try to keep my body and mind busy with fresh interests and activities. I am quite adept at thinking both logically and creatively. It is probably how I am able to be both an artist and a doctor.
Journey to the United Kingdom.
I relocated to the Uk because I felt limited back home in Nigeria, in more ways than one. Business was doing well, but I knew that it could be better. Also, I wanted to be able to practice medicine in an environment that will expose me to some of the best facilities and practices in the world.
How relocation contributed to your career growth.
Relocating abroad has helped me realize that there are real environments with real leaders who have a conscience and who not only talk about creating a conducive meritocratic environment for young people but actually act to back their words up.
I feel better supported, better trained, and better paid as a Doctor here than I ever did in Nigeria.
Advice to young medical doctors in Nigeria.
My advice for young doctors is that they shouldn’t be guilt-tripped into breaking their backs for a broken system. What I mean is this - If they decide to stay back to build things in Nigeria, I want it to be a decision that they made because it is what they want, not because they have been made to feel that relocating is the same thing as running away from a problem. The Nigerian economy is not the problem, neither are her people the issue; the people running the country are.
Possibility of returning to NigeriaI would love to return to Nigeria, but not this Nigeria. A new Nigeria. You see, people deceive our youths and make them feel like the key to changing things lies in their power to start SMEs, create value and push for a change. But as Professor Pat Utomi and Tonye Cole have said in the past, if the macroeconomy and political landscape is moving in a different direction from the efforts of the youth, no lasting widespread change will come to light.
What you would love to change about Nigeria.
The leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership.
Experience as a Medical Doctor during the pandemic.
The pandemic has changed the way the world works. The medical field was not spared. A big thanks to healthcare workers around the world who played an exemplary role, set an admirable example in leadership and sacrifice for everyone to follow, and helped the world to fight against a deadly virus.
Cultural shocks since relocatingI think the major shock I experienced was how differently things are done here, not just in my medical line of work but generally as well. From traffic rules to the way local council tax works, things are just different in the UK. Regulated, predictable, working like a clock. It took me a while to adjust to this.
What you miss about Nigeria
I miss a lot of things about Nigeria. The people especially my family, the bukas, and most especially, the feeling of freedom that you can only have in your own country.
Inspiration behind your Tiktok videos.
Lol. I like to teach about health and I find that these TikTok videos help me to pass my messages across in an entertaining manner.