Respiratory Physicians, Administrator
Patrick Ebitari Tekenah was a renowned Respiratory Physician and a Permanent Secretary that contributed immensely to healthcare delivery and Public Service sector of old Rivers State and Bayelsa State for over three decades.
Who was Patrick Ebitari Tekenah?
Patrick Ebitari Tekenah (1948-2015) hails from Okpoama, Abonnema, and Kula communities in the Niger delta region of Nigeria. Unassuming and humble to a fault. He was made a knight of St. Christopher in 2011. Patrick Ebitari Tekenah was a pioneer Personal Physician to the first Military Administrator of Bayelsa State and later appointed Permanent Secretary per excellence in 1998. He got his MBBS in 1974 at the prestigious University of Lagos, Nigeria and later qualified as a Pulmonologist from the University of Wales, United Kingdom in the early 80s. Sir, Patrick Ebitari Tekenah was a blessed family architect and model to many. He died in 2015 at the age of 67.
Patrick Ebitari Ikpo-Douglas’s (as firstly known) father was Joseph Ikpo-Douglas (late) hails from Kula and Abonnema communities in Akuko-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. His father was an Accountant with Nigerian Railways Corporation at the time and his mother was late Madam Serena Edah (Tekenah) who hails from Nembe and Okpoama communities in the Brass district; she was a Warden with the Nigerian Prisons Service.
Birth and Early life
Patrick Ebitari Ikpo-Douglas was born on Tuesday 16 may, 1948 in the coastal town of Nembe in southern-Nigeria. Young Patrick was the first child of his parents and he grew up with his widowed grandmother late Anya Lillian at Nembe and Okpoama communities in the Brass District of southern-Nigeria. At one point in Patrick’s life, he lived with his maternal uncle Dennis Tekenah who was at the time a Meteorological Officer in Kumba-Cameroun. It was during his sojourn in Cameroun that his surname was changed from Ikpo-Douglas to Tekenah on the instances of his maternal uncles, who were conceivably his benefactor at the time.
Young Patrick Ebitari Tekenah began his educational career in 1954 at St. Luke’s school, Nembe and regrettably left in 1957. He continued his primary education at St. Mary’s school, Likumba-Cameroun and at Yaba Model School, Lagos between 1958 and 1961 and got the First School Leaving Certificate. Patrick proceeded to the famous CMS Grammar School Lagos (oldest school in Nigeria) and studied from 1962 to 1968 and got his West African School Certificate (WASC) with a Division I and the Higher School Certificate (HSC). He was admitted into the University of Lagos Akoki in 1969 to study Medicine at the Medical College of the University and graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree. In 1984, he bagged a Diploma in Tuberculosis and Chest Disease at the University Of Wales, Cardiff.
His Career Life
Young Patrick Ebitari Tekenah was a House Officer, at the General Hospital Lagos between 1974 and 1975. He formally, began his medical career as a graduate from 1975 to 1976, when he did the compulsory National Youth Service Corp at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Ugbowo, Benin.
Later, he was a Physician with the popular Florence Nightingale (Hospital Boat) from March to December 1977. The Rivers State Government through the Hospital Management Board employed him as Medical Officer with the General Hospital Port Harcourt from 1978 to 1979.
Worked In the UK
Afterwards, from 1979 to 1985, he was in the United Kingdom where he worked at various hospitals in cities such as Sheffield, Liverpool, Cardiff, Middleborough and London (West Middlesex hospital, Hounslow).
Patrick Ebitari Tekenah a flamboyant medical practitioner lived up to the billings of a Doctor as enshrined in the ethics and code of conduct of the medical profession.
Practiced As a Chest Doctor
Subsequently, the Rivers State Government through the Hospital Management Board promoted him as Principal Medical Officer from June 1985 to 1989 thereabout and he worked at the General Hospital Emuoha, old Rivers State, and he was later transferred to the Chest Clinic, Diobu Port Harcourt in 1989. He was promoted Chief Medical Officer Chest Clinic, Diobu Port Harcourt and served in that capacity from 1990 to 1996 and he was also the Coordinator, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme, Rivers State in the same period.
Pioneer Personal Physician
In 1996, when Bayelsa State was created from old Rivers State, Patrick Tekenah transferred his services to Bayelsa State and he was the Chief Medical Officer Government House Clinic Yenagoa and also appointed pioneer Personal Physician to the Military Administrators of Bayelsa State (Navy Capt. Oladipo Philip Ayeni and Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade); he served in that capacity till early-1998 and was appointed Director General, Ministry of Health.
Appointed Permanent Secretary
The Military Administrator at the time Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade appointed him Permanent Secretary in 1998. He kept footprints in the sands of time as Permanent Secretary at the following Ministries: Health (from 1998 to 2001), Environment, Budget and economic planning (2001 to 2004), commerce and industry 2006 to 2007and lastly works and transportation (2007 to 2008). However, Patrick Ebitari Tekenah retired on 16 March, 2008 after successfully attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60.
Life After Retirement
Life after retirement was no doldrums for exceptional and extraordinary Tekenah. His wife and he veered into Agriculture. They established Ebitari Farms located along Imiringi Road Yenagoa in Bayelsa State. Before long Patrick Ebitari Tekenah was appointed Commissioner (I) in the Bayelsa State Civil Service Commission in 2012 till his death in 2015.
Wife and Kids
He was married in 1977 to his better half, Victoria. His wife Victoria Tekenah (Ph.D) is an erudite scholar of education, also a retired Permanent Secretary and now a political appointee of Bayelsa State Government. The couple went on to have four children.
While in active service, he aided in completing the Health Centers at Okpoama and Odioma and went on to assist in the upgrading of the Okpoama Health Centre to the befitting Cottage Hospital that presently exists. Also, during his time at the State Ministry of Health he provided portable water at Dikumama, Iseeleama and Diema Primary Schools, all in Okpoama, kingdom through the United Nations Children’s Funds Neighborhood Scheme. He, again showing concern for the community which he hailed from, single handedly trained the current Okpoama Kingdom Mortuary Attendants.
Being born into a religious family, Patrick’s Christian background influenced his general beliefs, as he expressed this in marriage, career, parenting and interpersonal relationship with others.
He was a truthful Anglican. In 2001, Patrick was knighted in the Order of St Christopher, and was appointed the Diocese’s President of the Council of Knights from 2011 to 2014.
Sir Ebitari Tekenah, was a member of several professional and religious institutions such as:
- Elder, Nigerian Medical Association
- The Boys Brigade, where he served as a state patron till his death
- People’s warden and Treasurer at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church Diobu, Port Harcourt (Nembe section)
- Member of steward guild at St. Peter’s deanery, Yenagoa Bayelsa State till his death
- Member of lesser and greater chapter of the cathedral church of St. Luke’s Nembe
- One time PCC member at St. Peter’s Deanery Yenagoa
- Member of the Men’s Christian Association at St. Peter’s Deanery Yenagoa Cathedral and St. Paul’s Deanery, Okpoama.
While in the United Kingdom, Patrick worked at the West Middlesex Hospital in Hounslow, London as well as in Sheffield, Liverpool, and Middleborough where a shocking and horrific diagnosis was made in May of 1983. Patrick at the age of 35 was diagnosed with having an Intracerebral Hemorrhagic Stroke …. A rare and severe medical condition relating to a burst or ruptured weakened blood vessel in the human brain.
Patrick, if he made it through surgery, was given a maximum of 5 more years to live. This devastating prediction left friends, family and most especially his 4 (four) month’s pregnant wife in very bad shape.Patrick, amidst the Doctor’s reports, survived the stroke and lived for more than three decade.
May 2011, disaster struck Ebitari, Patrick’s third child and first son was found dead at his Sheffield residence in the United Kingdom. Ebitari had reportedly died in his sleep in the early hours of Thursday 19 May, 2011.
27 years old Ebitari, worked with BOC Group, a multinational British based Industrial Gas Company in Sheffield, he was in the coming months to move to the West Midlands city of Scunthorpe before his tragic demise.
This loss literally broke Patrick in pieces, as he was most fond of this intelligent, likable, promising young chap. A true son in whom he was well pleased. The demise of Ebitari was possibly the remote cause of Sir Ebitari Patrick Tekenah death on 2 April, 2015.
Last Moments and Death
As part of his schedule at the commission, Patrick, while conducting statewide promotion interviews on the 2 April, 2015, collapsed and was rushed to the Diete Koki Memorial Hospital, in Yenagoa Bayelsa State Patrick was pronounced dead on arrival, following a suspected cardiac arrest.
He was laid to rest a month later on the 2 of May, 2015 at his ‘’Beulah Land’’ residence in his hometown Okpoama in Brass Local Government area Bayelsa State. He was 67 years old.