Thought Leadership

Kidnapped – after spending his whole professional life serving Nigerians in rural areas.

If we blogged about security issues in Nigeria – we would write at least one story on people we know personally that are kidnapped in South Eastern Nigeria every week. This is just people we know!

But this story literrily broke our hearts. I have thought back to all the experiences of when we have gone the extreme extra mile to show hospitality to our guest as part of our culture. What has become of that? Read here the story of a colleague that has spent 34 years serving rural communities in Abia state 34 years!….kidnapped. This is what our country has become. What do you think will happen next…who surfers? who pays the price?

…and you say there are leaders in Abia State?

Story culled from the Christian Chronicle.

A leading Christian doctor was abducted from his Nigerian home and shot in the arm by kidnappers who are holding him for ransom.

Dr. Robert Whittaker was at his home on the compound of Nigerian Christian Hospital with his wife, Annette, and son, Ozioma, when a vehicle of armed men pulled up to the compound Sunday, Aug. 2. The kidnappers shot one of the compound’s security guards and entered the home. Whittaker was shot once in the arm during the attack, said Jerry Canfield, chairman of the board of Searcy, Ark.-based International Health Care Foundation, which operates the hospital.

The kidnappers took Whittaker and left his wife and son. Annette Whittaker received minor injuries in the attack and the security guard was expected to recover from his injuries.

Canfield asked for prayers for the Whittakers and the staff of Nigerian Christian Hospital, which is negotiating for Robert Whittaker’s release.

The hospital, launched in 1965 by missionary physicians including Dr. Henry Farrar, is located near the border of Nigeria’s Abia state, near the southern Nigerian city of Aba.

Tom Carr, executive director of International Health Care Foundation, led a team of American medical missionaries on a campaign to Nigeria recently and was in transit back to the U.S. when he learned of Whittaker’s kidnapping. Two American nurses working at Nigerian Christian Hospital also are returning to the U.S., Canfield said.

Whittaker went to Nigeria in 1975 after reading an article by Dr. Henry Farrar in the church publication Firm Foundation, encouraging physicians to spend vacation time at Nigerian Christian Hospital. The West End Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn., sent Farrar to serve as the first located doctor at the hospital in 1964 and continues to support his work.

Read details here

If I could comment further I would…but for now…all I can really do is weep for the country, and the part of the country I call mine…

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

6 replies on “Kidnapped – after spending his whole professional life serving Nigerians in rural areas.”

My kneels are bent and eyes closed in prayers for the families who are going through the trauma of the evil militia in the South-East & South-South. It is my earnest paryers that they are not deterred in offering what they can to the people[low & sick people] who need them most in our communities…..

I shan’t offer the usual soundbites about what kind of country we are. We know what type of country we are, my ony concern now being whether, our hope that maybe some men or women of character can make a difference? Well somehow I’m begining to doubt that somehow. I never thought it’d come to this, but somehow a country gets the leadership it deserves- sadly..

The US secretary of state, Mrs Hillary Clinton is visiting Abuja on Tuesday, perhaps she would take on this and other huge issues including the large polio outbreak in the northern states of Nigeria.

a large polio outbreak due to wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) with 258 cases, compared to 32 cases for the same period in 2008.

A missionary doctor kidnapped this month in Nigeria and held hostage for two days says he sympathizes with his young abductors.
Dr. Robert Whittaker, 62, a surgeon, is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from an arm wound suffered when he was shot Aug. 2 at his southeastern Nigerian home near Aba. He was taken by three or four young men to a bamboo thicket before a ransom was paid and he was released.

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