Prof. Wale Sulaiman, CON (PWS) is an indigene of Ajasse-Ipo, Irepodun Local Government, Kwara State. His parents migrated from Ajasse-Ipo to Lagos for greener pastures. His father was a merchant trader, while his mother was a petty trader in Lagos Island. Wale was one of the 10 children born into a polygamous family. After completing his secondary education at the famous St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos State, Nigeria, his parents could not afford his university education. However, the brilliant 19-year-old received a scholarship to study medicine at the Medical University, Varna, Bulgaria through the Bureau for External Aid, a Nigerian government program that offered scholarships to exceptional Nigerian students to study abroad. The Scholarship was a cornerstone in his career journey.
He completed his medical degree at the Medical University, Varna, Bulgaria during which he also completed an MSc. degree. His interest in Neuroscience earned him a post-graduate scholarship in Canada to complete a PhD. in Neurosciences where he performed excellently and gained an admission to specialize in the most prestigious specialty in Medicine – Neurosurgery at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. He successfully completed his Neurosurgery training and became board-certified in Neurosurgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He then did two additional sub-specialty trainings in the USA in complex spine surgery and nerve reconstruction surgery. Prof. Sulaiman is recognized as one of the best Neurosurgeons and spine surgeons in the world skilled in both the application of minimally invasive techniques to treat spine disorders, and microsurgical resection of nerve tumors. In addition to his clinical expertise, Prof. Sulaiman has extensive research experience in both nerve and spinal cord injury and regeneration and has authored several peer reviewed publications and book chapters in these areas.
Professor Wale Sulaiman rose quickly through the ranks in Neurosurgery to become a professor of clinical Neurosurgery at Tulane University, the System Chairman of Neurosurgery and Co-Medical Director of Neuroscience institute at Ochsner Health System. He also completed on-the-job training as a healthcare executive (similar to an MBA) at Ochsner Health System and was recognized as an astute and brilliant physician executive. He established himself at a very young age as an accomplished Neurosurgeon and Researcher, an Innovator, a Skilled Physician Executive and Leader. He founded, designed and managed one of the most comprehensive multidisciplinary Back and Spine Center in the USA and transformed the Ochsner Department of Neurosurgery and Neurosciences from a two-person practice into a US News and World Report top 25 Neuroscience program in the United States. Under his leadership, he remarkably grew the service line to over 250 Physicians and Allied Healthcare providers spread across Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and parts of Florida with an outstanding revenue of over Five hundred million dollars.
During his tenure as a Leader in healthcare in the USA, Prof. Sulaiman trained hundreds of medical students, resident Doctors and Fellows as well as facilitated training of Nigerian Doctors at his hospital by providing scholarships. He also facilitated the involvement of prominent American healthcare companies to show interest in Nigeria by providing hands-on training and education to Neurosurgeons, Orthopedic Surgeons, and Resident Doctors. Examples of such companies include Medtronic, Globus Medical and Nuvasive. He also facilitated free surgery missions supported by some of these companies where Nigerians benefitted from free spine surgery. He was also involved in many medical missions where thousands of Nigerians benefitted from free medical and surgical care.
Having conquered the healthcare leadership, Neuroscience research and clinical Neurosurgery spaces in the USA, Professor Sulaiman decided to utilize his acquired skills to advance healthcare back home in Nigeria. His deep interest in Nigeria and dedication to the higher purpose of medicine and philanthropic spirit created numerous collaborations over the last 10 years with Nigerian Universities and governmental programs. To do this, he negotiated a reduction in his annual salary by 25% to free up time for him to visit Nigeria every month to participate in education, training and provision of medical care to Nigerians including participation of free Neurosurgery and spine care. He and his wife, Mrs. Patricia Sulaiman (an accomplished Nurse with a master’s degree in public health and a graduate of Cornell university training in management and leadership), established RNZ Global Ltd (www.rnzglobal.com). RNZ Global Ltd is a Nigerian hospital development, management and operations company which won the international competitive bid to manage Shell Oil’s only hospital, the 65-bed hospital in Port Harcourt Nigeria. RNZ Global Ltd is now recognized as one of the best healthcare companies in Nigeria. Prof. Sulaiman’s Neurosurgery and spine practice (RNZ Neuroscience) quickly became one of the most respected and highest quality practices in Nigeria.
Prof Sulaiman is a co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Hippo Technologies: a virtual healthcare technology company he helped found in 2020. Hippo Technologies is leading the way in the democratization of access to quality healthcare around the world through application of innovative voice-controlled, handsfree headsets for patient care, healthcare education and training.
Prof. Wale Sulaiman’s reputation and accomplishments have continuously generated the attention of both the State and Federal Governments in Nigeria. Over the years Prof. Sulaiman has become a visiting Professor at many teaching hospitals and has been instrumental in the establishment and/or improvement of Neurosurgery and Spine care in many of the hospitals he has visited. He established the Neurosurgery unit at Delta State University Hospital and ran it for a few years, he also supported Neurosurgery services at hospitals in Lagos state, Osun state, Oyo state, Ondo state, Rivers state, Cross River state, FCT and of course, Kwara state. Also, he has been a Guest Speaker, Honored Guest, and Faculty at most of Nigeria Neurosurgery and Neuroscience society meetings as well as at the Guild of Medical Directors meetings in Nigeria.
His journey with the Federal Government started in 2010 as a member of a delegate of Nigerian Physicians to visit the Senate and Presidency to discuss ways to improve healthcare in Nigeria. He was Chairman of the Consultancy Committee of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) where he facilitated the involvement of Nigerian Doctors in Diaspora in healthcare provision in Nigeria. He has worked with many Ministers of Health from Prof. Oshotimehin to the current Minister, Dr. Enahire through his involvement with ANPA. He was a key member of the team that facilitated the signing of an MOU between ANPA and the Federal Ministry of Health to promote healthcare transformation in Nigeria and the involvement of the Diaspora in healthcare education and training in Nigeria. Prof. Sulaiman was also the Chairman of the healthcare committee of the Kwara State Association of Nigeria North America (KSANG) where he facilitated medical missions during the first tenure of Governor Bukola Saraki and continued till the two terms of Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed where thousands of Kwarans benefitted from free medical care.
Prof. Sulaiman and his committee submitted a proposal to revamp the healthcare system in Kwara state which was adopted by the two administrations. He was appointed Chairman of Kwara State Health Advisory Committee to facilitate the implementation of the Kwara Health plan through the office of the Governor. When the multi-billionnaira Harmony Diagnostic center was on the verge of bankruptcy, Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed constituted an interim board and invited Prof. Sulaiman to chair it with the sole objective of turning the facility around to a profitable venture. This task was accomplished within 3 months and a report on how to transform the center to a world-class healthcare facility was presented to Governor Ahmed for consideration and the interim board’s service was concluded.
Prof. Wale Sulaiman’s reputation in both the USA and in Nigeria was attractive to the current administration of Kwara state Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq who invited him in 2019 to serve as his Special Adviser on Health Matters. This was the first time in the history of Kwara state where only one Special Adviser was appointed to oversee all healthcare matters. Prof. Sulaiman performed his role skillfully and professionally and yielded excellent results especially as they pertained to the response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. During this very difficult and unprecedented period, Kwara state was ranked in the top 3 in the country for preparedness and responsiveness under his leadership. Within a short period of time, he wrote and presented a 5-year Kwara healthcare transformation plan to the Governor. Prof. Sulaiman resigned after serving the administration meritoriously and with the highest degree of integrity in August 2020. Prof. Sulaiman ascribed his resignation to the dire need to return to the private sector to focus on his mission to transform healthcare in the country and drive important and people-oriented programs through RNZ Foundation. His departure from politics was short-lived as critical stakeholders and the Kwara South electorates yearned for more of his honest, capable, and competent services by strongly encouraging him to run for the senatorial seat in Kwara South. After much consideration and months of consultations, Prof. Sulaiman decided to enter politics.
Prof. and Mrs. Sulaiman co-founded RNZ Foundation to provide free healthcare to underserved populations and support socio-economic programs to alleviate poverty and suffering. The socio-economic programs of RNZ Foundation are focused on financial empowerment and social investment especially for youth and women.
As previously mentioned, Prof. Sulaiman facilitated many medical and surgical missions to Kwara State where thousands of Kwarans benefitted. Additionally, in the last few years RNZ Foundation has completely sponsored numerous social investments and youth empowerment programs including:
Prof. Sulaiman is married to Mrs. Patricia Sulaiman and they have 3 children namely Rahim, Zaynab and Najeeb.
One of the proudest and most humbling moments of Prof. Sulaiman’s life occurred recently on October 11, 2022 when he was conferred the prestigious National honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhamadu Buhari at a Nationally televised ceremony in Abuja. This has now placed him in an elite group of only 573 Nigerians in the world to have ever received this honour since 1963, thereby making him a National Icon. Some other National awards that Prof. Sulaiman has received include: