Meet Young Nigerian Nurse, Olanrewaju Sherif Who Just Graduated From Pennsylvania University

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Young Nigerian Nurses are breaking boundaries and setting new records across the globe. However, one aspect of the profession people seems to always chide away from is the Unionism cum political terrain. Today, I am introducing to you an activist who has taken unionism to a different level in person of Olanrewaju Sherif Adewale who at the weekend graduated from Pennsylvania State University in State College, USA. Below is the profile of an astute and eloquent Ogun State NANNM PRO:

A graduate at The Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA, Mr. Sherif Olanrewaju earned his Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree in Global Workers’ Rights.

Sherif certified as a Registered Nurse (RN) at the School of Nursing, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Ile-ife and then proceeded to the School of Psychiatric Nursing, Aro, Abeokuta where he obtained the registered psychiatric nurse {RPN} qualification. He also attended the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where he graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing Sciences {BNSc} and subsequently bagged a post graduate diploma in education {PGDE}. He also attended 30th Annual Review of Geriatric Medicine organized by the Department of Continuing Education of the Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA in 2014. He combined his studies in these institutions with activism by joining the students’ union movement, a decision that laid a very solid foundation for hisorientation as a trade union leader and civil society movement activist, after he started work. He has also attended various conferences and seminars at the national and international levels because of his flair for the labour movement and professional development.

The philosophy of “one for all and all for one” was infused in him while growing up as a young boy. He had the opportunity to interact with political activists and grassroots mobilizers in his community, as a senior high school student. This helped him to develop a questioning mind that sought answers for why the vast resources in our communities are not adequately allocated for projects that could help alleviate poverty and promote communal unity.

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It struck him then that in Nigeria, as with most African countries, the masses need to struggle before they can get any real benefits from the system. This spurred his interest to get involved in the struggle for a better society, thus he cut his teeth in the National Association of Nigerian Student Nurses and Midwives {NANSNM} the union body of student nurses, where he served as the public relations officer and secretary of the electoral committee in his basic nursing school period.

While he was studying for his post-basic qualification in psychiatric/mental health nursing, he was elected president of the students’ union government and also served as the internal auditor of the Nigerian Universities Nursing Students Association {NUNSA}, Obafemi Awolowo University chapter while studying for hisbachelor’s degree in nursing science. His involvement in these efforts enhanced a desire to study labour relations, so that he would be better equipped to serve in the labour movement.

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He started work as a psychiatric/mental health nurse at the Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta where he was very much actively involved in the labour movement in the hospital. His  quest for better working conditions and guts to ask questions almost cost him his  career as a professional nurse within his first few years of work, when nursing management felt his voice was already too strident as a rank and file member of the union, and sought to bar him from contesting for elections, realizing that with his  popular support amongst members, he  was quite likely to win. He challenged the decision and hospital management settled the crisis which allowed him to contest and he won.

Since then, he has been actively involved in the leadership of his trade union/political association, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives {NANNM}. He started out by serving as the vice chairman of his branch at the Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Aro-Abeokuta in Nigeria. He proceeded to serve at the state level as the Ogun state council public relations officer. His performance as a young leader attracted the attention of the national leadership of the association and he was appointed as the national youth coordinator of the National Association Nigeria Nurses and Midwives in Nigeria. He was also one of the elected NANNM delegates to the quadrennial National Delegates’ Conference of the Nigerian Labour Congress in 2015, making him one of the youngest delegates to the Congress.

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In 2016, he was also elected as Assistant National Secretary of the of the Nigerian Labour Congress’ youth committee at its inauguration, a position he holds till date. He was actively involved in drafting of the National Youth Policy of Nigeria Labor Congress. He is the Ogun State coordinator of Socialist Workers & Youth League (SWL) an organization of men, women and youths who are committed to the fight for a better society.

He has attended various training seminars, conferences and courses for trade unionists within and outside Nigeria. These have contributed to his enhance knowledge of the labour movement, and sharpened organizing. He has attended Youth Leadership from the Fredrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation (FES), Youth and Gender Development from Solidarity Center, Tax Justice advocacy and young workers from PSI andInternational Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – Africa.

He attended Public Service International (PSI) Young Workers Academy where young workers from the African and Arab Countries Region met in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss on workers’ rights issues including quality public services, tax justice and gender equality. Young workers in attendance were enlightened about issues affecting the working class and our awareness about labour policies and politics on the local and international scene as they affect workers’ welfare, performance and productivity was raised.

Sherif attended IV international Course on political Training for political Educators at Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes (ENFF) Brazil 2017.

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He was also opportuned to represent Public Service International (PSI), as part of the People’s Health Movement team that served as young “Global Health Watchers” of the 142nd session of the World Health Organization {WHO} Executive Board meeting in Geneva, in January 2018. He equally attended 71st World Health Assembly and 143rd World Health Organization {WHO} Executive Board meeting in Geneva, in May 2018. This was an invaluable opportunity for capacity-building as a young health professional and labour leader, which enabled him to gain deep insight into the dynamics of global health politics and policy formulation.

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