Ophthalmologist, Evangelist, Administrator
Dinma Denni-Fiberesima was a professional Ophthalmologist that restored sight to many in the Niger Delta and beyond. He was best known for his godliness, fearlessness and humanitarian services.
Who was Dinma Denni-Fiberesima?
Dinma Denni-Fiberesima was an Okrika born Ophthalmologist and humanitarian that kept a giant footprints on the sand of time in the Niger Delta. He coined the famous Odadike Eye Hospital, in Port Harcourt, where it also facilitated training of medical personnel up to Diploma level. As a Commissioner for Health, he introduced mind-boggling innovations to the health sector of old Rivers State which were first of its kind in Nigeria. He lived a corrupt-free life and was a devout Christian. Dr. Dinma Denni-Fiberesima died of a cancer related illness in 1995 and he was 46 years old.
His Parents and Birth
Dinma Denni-Fiberesima was born to the family of Hon. Dennis Dic-Fiberesima, and Mrs. Isabella Kaine Fiberesima on September 7, 1949, at Okrika town in the then Eastern-Nigeria (now Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State). His parents were well-off, he was an intelligent child, and his unassuming nature endeared him to people within and outside the family. He was their first child and had some siblings after him.
Initially, he had his primary education at Okrika Boys School, Okrika town and later attended Municipal Council (Township School) Moscow Road, Port Harcourt in the early 1950s and got his First School Leaving Certificate. He proceeded to Okrika Grammar School, Okrika in the 1960s and got his West Africa Secondary Certificate (WASC) and later did a Post-Secondary Education at the Federal School of Science, Lagos from 1968 to 1969. However, he got admission into the University of Ibadan in 1970 to study Medicine and graduated in 1975.
Dinma Denni-Fiberesima sojourn at the University of Ibadan was spectacular; he kept undeniable footprints at the University. He was fully involved in both the secular and spiritual life of the institution.
In 1973, he was elected President of the University of Ibadan Medical Student Association, where a former Provost of the Medical College accolades him as one student leader who was genuinely concerned about the welfare of his fellow students.
Also, he was a pioneer editor of “SHOCKS” a Christian Magazine for University students. During his University days, he had a sensation for godliness, Dinma Denni-Fiberesima also pioneered an Annual Christian Evangelical Youth Festival tagged “EXPO UI”. Subsequently, he went to the United Kingdom for a specialist training in Ophthalmology and got his Diploma in from the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland and his fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, Glasgow.
His Medical Career
Dinma Denni-Fiberesima did the mandatory National Youth Service Corps in 1976, and thereafter, he started his colourful medical career at the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) Eye Hospital Nigerian Doctor. At that time there were no eye clinics in Rivers State offering eye treatments and this was Dinma Denni-Fiberesima dilemma.
In December 1981, he established the famous Odadiki (Come, taste and See in the English translation, which is gotten from Psalm 34:8) Eye Hospital at 7 Aba Road Port Harcourt, Rivers state. The Odadiki Eye Hospital was a principal referral center in Ophthalmology.
In 1994, a year before his demise, the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland accredited Odadiki Eye Hospital as a center for the training of doctors for a Diploma in Ophthalmology.
Odadiki Eye Clinic offered free eye services at the time. Through his clinic, he organized eye camps in towns and villages in Rivers State and even went as far as Enugu and Imo states for patients to receive eye examination, drugs and even surgery.
Dr Denni-Fiberesima was very concerned about the high incidence of preventable blindness, especially from cataracts and glaucoma and the small number of ophthalmologists at the time in Nigeria. He would have been delighted to see the growing number of Nigerian Ophthalmologists being trained to tackle eye diseases in Nigeria.
Subsequently, from 1990 to 1991 he served as a visiting scholar at the College of Medicine, University of Port Harcourt.
Commissioner For Health
In 1987 thereabout, he was found worthy to serve as a Commissioner in the Executive Council of Group Captain Ernest Olawunmi Adelaye Military Administration of old Rivers State from July 1988 to August 1990. Dr Denni-Fiberesima was the best Commissioner of Health, Rivers State has ever had. He operated an open door policy for all and sundry; Dr Denni-Fiberesima loves innovations and professionalism. It was under his saddle that the Flying Doctors Services Scheme was coined to bring swift healthcare services to isolated rural communities in old Rivers State. This concept was the first of its kind in Nigeria. He also brought to bear the Hospital League of Friends and the Satellite Clinics in markets and as well as other health schemes to improve healthcare delivery in the state.
He was a notable workaholic that left no stone unturned at the Ministry of Health. In all his giant deeds as Commissioner, he never collected salaries for his upkeep from the government he served as commissioner but rather Dr Denni-Fiberesima gave his earnings to charity (poor and needy) and this act was spectacular and well admired by the people of old Rivers State. In 1990, he resigned from the Executive Council of old Rivers State due to some complicity that were against his faith and interest of the people of old Rivers State.
Why He Resigned?
In a principled disagreement with the Military Governor boss of the old Rivers State whom he served on the mobile health scheme project, he stood courageous on the side of probity and accountability in public office. He objected to staggering costs of the government’s “Flying Doctors Scheme” which he did call a “Budget of Monster”. He found unjustifiable the deals involved in the procurement of equipment for the scheme on the grounds that it would not serve the good of the greater number in his strategic calculations, he was solidly pro-people and scorned elitist tokenism and while washing in tackling social problems that put the mass of the people of a disadvantage. Not even the lure of keeping a public post would make him compromise his people-oriented stance. He lost the job of commissioner, but retained his convictions.
After his resignation as Commissioner for Health in old Rivers State, he was elected the Vice President of the powerful Ijaw National Congress (INC) from 1993 to 1994. Dr Denni-Fiberesima steadfast activism of the minority rights was next to none. During his sojourn as Vice President, his leadership credential shone, he was a prized asset and beacon of redemption for an ethnically disaffected people in a perverse federation. His voice was also loud against the environmental destruction of the Niger Delta, where his people the Ijaws are a prominent population.
He was actively involved in many associations both professional and otherwise as follows:
- National Vice President of the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria
- Secretary, Association of Private and General Medical and Dental Association Practitioners of Nigeria, Rivers State chapter
- Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association the old Rivers chapter
- Founder of the Institute for Christian Discipleship
- Member, of Scripture Union
- In the Rivers State Society was on the Governing Council of the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students
- Patron of the Disable People Association and the Gethsemane Squad
Dinma Denni-Fiberesima was born an Anglican, he repented in 1968 during his sojourn at the Federal School of Science Lagos through the Ministry of the Scriptures Union. He was indeed a true apprentice for Jesus Christ with high moral standards.
The Odadiki foundation which motto is “the blind received their sight, and the poor have the good news preached to them” was his vehicle for proclaiming God’s goodness and righteousness during his numerous outreaches for free eye care and surgery campaign to towns and villages.
He was a quintessential family man. Mrs. Adeline Millabe Denni-Fiberesima (nee Dokubo) was his wife, and they had three lovely children. They both had a memorable and graceful marriage life, which was admired by many Christian faithfuls. Adeline Millabe and Dr Dinma Denni-Fiberesima were involved in marriage counseling and often ministering together as a team helping marriages to grow and be secure.
Dr Dinma Denni-Fiberesima took ill of liver cancer and reportedly died on July 5, 1995, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The universal grief was indescribable; people from all strata of the society mourned for this departed soul that gave sight to many and stood for truth and justice for the poor. He was 46 years old.
Lessons from Dinma Denni-Fiberesima’s life abound, one of them is the fact that he lived his life to the fullest. Every opportunity he had, he used it to serve his Lord Jesus and improved a lot of people around him. Most especially he left things better than he found them.