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Parents waiting outside pediatrics ward at Ile-Ife Hospital.

Photo courtesy of ASTR Archives (folder: ASTR Photo Collection, folder: Africa Medical and Indigenous).

Seventh-day Adventist Hospital Ile-Ife

By Michael A. T. Senne-Aya


Michael A. T. Senne-Aya, D.Min. (Adventist University of Africa, Nairobi, Kenya)  is the director of archives, statistics, and research for the Western Nigeria Union Conference, Lagos, Nigeria. He was the last president of Edo-Delta Mission before its formal reorganization into two separate conferences and served as the pioneer president of the Edo Conference in the Western Nigeria Union Conference. 

First Published: December 7, 2020

Founded in 1940, the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital Ile-Ife, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria, is overseen by the Western Nigeria Union Conference and has 128 patient beds.

Building the Hospital

Dr. Madgwick, Adventist world church health secretary at the time, chose the building site for the hospital. He came to Nigeria in 1939 to conduct a feasibility survey to determine a suitable location for the proposed medical institution.1 Construction started and finished in 1940. The initial property given to the church consisted of 40 acres, but it increased to 100 acres as the hospital expanded. The then king, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, gave the first land to the Seventh-day Adventist Church for a leasehold of a shilling a year. In addition, according to David Agboola, the king donated a large amount of money and labor as a contribution from the citizens of Ile-Ife city toward the hospital project.2

The initial complex consisted of nine mud-brick buildings, two wards having a total of 42 beds, one doctor's home, a duplex for two European nurses, and three dwellings for African nurses.3 W. G. Till, then director of the former North-Western Nigeria Mission, supervised the building project.4

Another significant development at the Adventist Hospital was the construction and dedication of a church building on September 3, 1955, within the hospital premises. During its dedication, Pastor J. O. Gibson, president of the West African Union Mission (WAUM), preached, while Dr. Sherman A. Nagel, Jr., pastor of the hospital church, officiated alongside with Pastor J. M. A. Adeoye. Adeoye offered the dedicatory prayer and Sister B. M. Turtill and Violet Welke presented music. Among the dignitaries attending the occasion were His Royal Highness, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the revered Ooni of Ife, as well as prominent individuals from the Ife Community.5

Operation of the Hospital

Soon after the commissioning of the hospital, World War II broke out. The Royal British Army took over the hospital and made it a regional military facility to treat all wounded African soldiers. However, the Adventist mission regained the 42-bed hospital in 1946. Dr. G. W. Allen and Phyllis Crocker were the pioneer medical director and director of nursing services respectively. Records indicate that the hospital was intended to serve a population of close to a million within a radius of 25 miles.6 In 1947, Dr. Sherman A. Nagel, Jr., replaced Dr. G. W. Allen as director of the hospital, while Litetia Ashley assisted Sister Crocker in running the nursing school.7 Dr. Nagel, Jr. eventually left in 1963.8

The years from 1951 to 1970 was a time of massive growth for the hospital. It became the center for comprehensive healthcare in the southwestern region of Nigeria. Major surgeries conducted during this period time included Nigeria’s first cardiothoracic surgery, performed by Dr. De La Cruz. Dr. Sherman Nagel expanded the hospital from 42-bed to 155. The Seventh-day Adventist School of Nursing started on January 15, 1948, with six students. A midwifery program began on May 1, 1950, with Sister B. M. Turtill, as the initial director. The first set of students for the midwifery program consisted of young women who had previously graduated as nurses from other general nursing training schools. By the end of 1950, the number of patients rose to almost 800 in the pre-natal clinic. During 1968, a modern two-story hospital block, known as Ward 6, opened. And before the end of 1973, the hospital complex had 34 buildings.9

Government Takeover

In 1975, the military regime and the Western State of Nigeria nationalized the hospital10 along with other private hospitals. According to government sources, the move happened because of the financial inability of the concerned hospitals to implement the salary increment recommended by the Udoji Commission, the commission set up by the government to review salaries of workers in Nigeria.11 In taking over the operation of the hospital, the government stated that Adventist employees would receive Sabbath privileges and all positions would be shared between Adventists and the non-Adventist staff the government brought to the hospital on a 50/50 ratio.12

Later, the federal government in turn took the hospital from the state government and made it part of the teaching hospital complex of its Obafemi Awolowo University for about eleven years (1975-1986). Before the end of 1984, however, it became obvious “that the University Teaching Hospital Complex could not cope with (managing) the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital financially.”13 The authorities returned it to the Adventist Church on September 30, 1987.14

The Church Regains the Hospital

When the government released back to the hospital to the Adventist Mission, basically all the facilities and structures were in a dilapidated state. Much of the equipment was obsolete and unserviceable. But it reopened its doors to the public on January 3, 1988.15 Dr. Samuel Daniyan was appointed director. Under his leadership, it made remarkable progress. Toward the end of 1994, the school of nursing resumed and has again distinguished itself as one the best nursing schools in the southwestern zone of Nigeria.16

The hospital received accreditation and endorsement in 1996 from both the Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and the West African College of Medicine to train doctors in general medical practice. It became the first such program within the Adventist Church health system in Africa. Dr. Herb Giebel directed the program.17

In 1997 hostility broke out between the people of Ile-Ife and Modakeke. The hospital happened to be near the border between the two communities. Even though bullets were fired at the hospital, no hospital staff or patients were hurt. Rumored threats by Modakeke combatants to burn down the hospital did not materialize.18

The hospital came under the management of Adventist Health International (AHI) for 12 years (2001 to 2012). Based at Loma Linda University Medical School, in California, U.S.A., AHI manages Adventist hospitals around the world that need special assistance. It reorganized administrative structure of the hospital such that it was supervised from Loma Linda. AHI brought much needed equipment and helped to pay salaries when the hospital’s income was low.19

The Impact of the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital at Ile-Ife

On a broader note, the hospital has given birth to the SDA School of Nursing (1948), the midwifery school (1950) and the SDA College of Health Technology. The latter was established and commissioned on January 1, 2020, and started with four departments: (a) Community Health, (b) Pharmacy Technicians, (c) Health Information Management, and (d) Medical Laboratory Science Technicians. The new institution is located on the campus of the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.20

Through the initiative of Ile-Ife Hospital at least two clinics opened in other towns. They are Adventist Medical Centre, Inisa, and the now defunct Igbobini Clinic. The hospital provides employment to many people in the region and has reduced infant mortality in Ile-Ife and its environs. Hospital staff has conducted evangelism and established some churches in the villages around Ile-Ife.21 One of the conditions the city of Ile-Ife had to meet before the federal government would locate Obafemi Awolowo University there was that it should have a good hospital. The Seventh-day Adventist Hospital, Ile-Ife, fulfilled that requirement.

Medical Directors

G. W. Allen (1944-1947); S. A. Nagel, Jr.(1947-1963); Arthur Zeismer (1963-1968); A. M. Owens(1968-1970); M.T. Oliverio (1970); L. Marter (1970-1972); M. T. Oliverio (1972-1974); J. C. Jay (1974-1975); Kenneth L. Kelly( (1975); Nigerian Government management (1975-1987); S. A. Daniyan (Dec.1987-1994); Greg Saunders (1994-1998); Mark Rasinger (1999-2002);22 Herb Gieble (2002-2006); Opreh as CMD (2006-2012); Henry Ineh (2012-2015); Akin Obisanya (2015-2019); Oludayo A. Onosunde (2019-pesent).23


Agboola, David T. Seventh-day Adventist History in West Africa (1888-1988: A  Mustard Seed. Ibadan: Lasob Productions, 2001.

Agboola, David T. The Seventh-day Adventists in Yorubaland (1914-1964). Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1987.

Alao, Dayo et al., ed. 90 Years of Adventism in Nigeria (1914-2004): A Compendium. Lagos: Communication and PARL Department of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria, 2004.

Babalola, David O. Babcock University Inaugural Lecture's Series: 2010/2011, “SDA Church in Nigeria Since 1914: An Impact Analysis.”

Babalola, David O. On Becoming a Conference. Ibadan: OSB Design Limited, 2002.


  1. David T. Agboola, SDA History in West Africa (1888-1988): A Mustard Seed (Ibadan: Lasob Productions, 2001), 51.

  2. David T. Agboola, The SDA's in Yorubaland: 1914-1964 (Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1987), 43.

  3. David O. Babalola, On Becoming a Conference (Ibadan: OSB Design Limited, 2002), 156.

  4. Ibid.

  5. David T. Agboola, SDA History in West Africa (1888-1988): A Mustard Seed (Ibadan: Lasob Productions, 2001), 58.

  6. Dayo Alao et al., ed., 90 Years of Adventism in Nigeria (1914-2004): A Compendium (Lagos: Communication and PARL Department of SDA Church in Nigeria, 2004), 63.

  7. David T. Agboola, SDA History in West Africa (1888-1988): A Mustard Seed, (Ibadan: Lasob Productions, 2001), 51.

  8. David T. Agboola, The SDA's in Yorubaland: 1914-1964, 43.

  9. David O. Babalola, On Becoming a Conference, 158.

  10. Dayo Alao, et al., ed., 90 Years of Adventism in Nigeria (1914-2004), 63.

  11. David O. Babalola, On Becoming a Conference, 158.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid., 159.

  14. Ibid.

  15. Ibid., 164.

  16. Dayo Alao, et al, 63.

  17. Ibid.

  18. Ibid.

  19. Ibid.

  20. Samson B. Popoola, interview by author, July 28, 2021.

  21. Babalola, On Becoming a Conference, 166, 167.

  22. Ibid., 65.

  23. Samson B. Popoola and Dr. Opreh, retired staff of the Ife Hospital, interview by author, July 28, 2021.


Senne-Aya, Michael A. T. "Seventh-day Adventist Hospital Ile-Ife." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 07, 2020. Accessed May 20, 2022.

Senne-Aya, Michael A. T. "Seventh-day Adventist Hospital Ile-Ife." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 07, 2020. Date of access May 20, 2022,

Senne-Aya, Michael A. T. (2020, December 07). Seventh-day Adventist Hospital Ile-Ife. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 20, 2022,