A CALL TO PROVIDE VISIONARY, IMPACTFUL & ETHICAL LEADERSHIP TO THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF NIGERIA (PSN)
I am thankful to God for the honour of presenting myself for service as the President of our professional association, come November 2018.
ENTRY INTO PHARMACY
I am a 1976 graduate of Pharmacy from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). At the University I was once the National Secretary of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students (PANS). I did my internship at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu and my compulsory National Youth service at the General Hospital in Yelwa-Yauri in present day Kebbi State
|Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa |
OFR, MON, FPSN, FNAPharm, FPCPharm, NPOM
I joined Pfizer Products Plc in July 1978 as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative (PSR), became Area Manager in 1980, National Sales Manager in 1982, Group Sales Manager (Pharmaceutical & Animal Health) in 1985. I was appointed Marketing Manager in 1989 and invited to the Board as Pharmaceutical Division Director in 1990, rising to become the Deputy Country Manager in 1992. I peaked in my career when I was appointed the Country Manager for Nigeria and Regional Manager for Pfizer West Africa in 1993. By 1994, I became Chairman of the Board of Directors as well as the Managing Director/ CEO.
I continued in this position till 1997, when I led the Management through a Management Buy Out (MBO) scheme to acquire the 60% shareholding of Pfizer Inc in Pfizer Products Plc, changed the name of the resultant company to Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc. I led Neimeth through its transition and post acquisition challenges to become a full-fledged Nigerian R&D based Pharmaceutical Company. I voluntarily retired in 2011 after 33 years in the industry, 18 years of which were at the CEO Level.
PRIVATE SECTOR LEADERSHIP
During my years as CEO, I combined my responsibilities with that of leading segments of the private sector. I was at different times, Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ikeja, President Business Club (BCI), Ikeja, President Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), President, Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) and Chairman, the Nigerian Economic Summit (NESG). In all these positions, God granted me the grace to complete my terms creditably, leaving behind strings of legacies.
In addition to my long years of work in the Private Sector, I have had exposures to the working of the Public Sector. I was Chairman, Governing Council, Abia State Polytechnic, Chairman of Board of Abia State University Teaching Hospital, and currently Chairman, Governing Council of the Abia State Public - Private Partnerships and Investment Promotion Agency.
I served on the Boards of the Federal Manpower Board and the National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER); was a member of the Governing Council of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), member of the National Stakeholders Working Group of the Nigerian Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (NEITI). I was a member of both the Vision 2010 and 2020 committees and participated in the National Political Reform Conference in 2005. I have served as a member of several Presidential Committees and Councils, some of which were the Presidential Steering committee on the Global Economic Crisis (2009), Presidential Committee on the review of Tariffs & Fiscal incentives (2009/2010), Presidential Advisory Council (PAC -2010/2011), and the Presidential Committee on Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P, 2012-2015)
For my long and meritorious service to the Nation, I have had the privilege and Honour of receiving three National awards: Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) in 2001, Officer of the Order of the Republic (OFR) in 2011 and recently (May 2018) I received the National Productivity order of Merit (NPOM)award.
SERVICE TO PHARMACY
I have been an active member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and supported the society and its professional and interest groups since graduation. Throughout my career I participated in several activities and was member of several delegations that worked to promote the interest of the Profession and the Society. I have delivered the National conference key note and have presented key notes at several State and Professional group conferences.
I was Editor of the Nigerian Journal of Pharmacy and latter became the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal and Chairman of the Editorial Board, during which I served in the National Executive committee (NEC) of the Society. I was the Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee of the Kaduna National Conference in 1992 when our icon Prince Juli was the President of PSN and Past President Yaro Budah was Deputy President and a member of the CPC.
I particularly had the privilege of serving as Chairman of the Board of Fellows of our great Society, succeeding Fellow Adeleke and once again serving in our Society's National Executive Committee (NEC). It was during my tenure that the BOF instituted its endowment program that supports Pharmacy Education & Research in our Universities. Additionally, I have served the Pharmaceutical Industry as Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of MAN (PMG-MAN) and was the Founding President of the West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (WAPMA).
For my active participation and service in the profession and its activities, I have been severally honored by the Society. I received the Merit award of Lagos State PSN (1993), Award of Excellence by PSN Enugu (1994), Eminent Persons Award of the Nigerian Association of Industrial Pharmacists (1996), Professional Excellence Award, of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (1997), Award of Excellence of PSN, Ebonyi State (1999), Icon of Pharmacy by the National Association of Industrial Pharmacists (2011). I was honoured with the Fellowship of the Society (FPSN) in 1994 and have been invited to the prestigious fellowships of the West African Post Graduate of Pharmacists (FPC.Pharm), and the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (FNAPharm). I am the life Patron of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students (PANS) National and have supported PANS yearly since graduation in 1976.
WHAT IS MY MISSION?
From my brief profile provided above, it is clear that I have been exposed to the highest echelons of the Nigerian Society and Economy - Public and Private. I have garnered tremendous experience in advocacy, institutional management and governance and I have built networks across the length and breadth of our Nation and the West African Region.
It is my desire, if the society agrees and God permits to place this wealth of experience at the service of our Profession. It is a well-known fact that in spite of great past achievements our Profession is still not getting its due recognition and reward for its great contributions to Nigeria's Health care and the economy. I intend to build on the work done by our past leaders to take the image, Prestige, recognition and reward for our Profession to the next level. Isn't it troubling that in 58 years history of our Nation, only once has a Pharmacist been made the Minister of Health. It is humiliating to see Medical doctors appointed as Ministers of Health, Ministers of State for Health and sometimes Permanent Secretaries in the Federal Ministry of Health to the exclusion of other health care professionals. The same humiliating situation is prevalent in many States. It is baffling to me why the Federal and some State governments refuse to grant the consultant Status to Pharmacy Professionals who are Fellows of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists and have other relevant professional qualifications and experience. I intend to mobilize all forces - human & Divine, to break the obstacles and limitations, resulting further in the creation of sub-specialties such as Paediatric Pharmacy, Geriatric Pharmacy, Obs & Gynae Pharmacy, Oncology Pharmacy etc. for our hospital (clinical) Pharmacists.
Our practicing environment remains unsatisfactory. Despite the progress made, the environment remains suboptimal and stifling. There is therefore the subsisting need to intensify advocacy to effectively sanitize the environment to make Nigeria conducive for professional pharmaceutical practice. We must bring quackery to a halt and fully enthrone the Pharmacist at the centre of all pharmaceutical activities. All those who have no genuine or legal business in the industry must be routed out. The place of the Pharmacist in drug production, distribution, drug retailing and drug dispensing must be assured and unencumbered, particularly the government approved National Drug Distribution System must first be enforced and necessary improvements made in the future. Perhaps Prof Fola Tayo's Nigerian Pharmaceutical Commission (NPC) idea will give us the pedestal to pursue these objectives. We will begin as soon as possible to pursue this through a Private Member's Bill in this 8th National Assembly. Pharmacy needs to be practiced in Nigeria as it is done in developed societies so that our colleagues in the diaspora (including our Children) can come home and fit into the practice environment.
For so long, the Nation has paid lip service to the need to be more self-reliant in local production of medicines and other healthcare consumables. The National Health and Drug policies have indicated that we should have achieved 50% of self -sufficiency in essential medicines by 1995 and 75% local production by the year 2000. But it has been mere wishes and all talk. With my experience in the Industry, I intend to work with the Industry and push at all ends to ensure, first, that the Public sector gives dedicated attention to local purchase and to make the operating environment more conducive to big ticket investments by both local and international investors in domestic manufacturing. We will advocate for a more stable and consistent policy environment to make more investors transit from importation to local production of essential medicines. And we must work to protect such investments by getting pharmacists to be at the topmost policy levels. And in doing so we must increase true value addition by a deliberate and strategic collaboration between the Academia and the Industry. The Industry must challenge the academia with specific problems and pay for the provision of the solutions. In the end, both sectors will be empowered and self-reliance and self-worth will be enhanced across the professional value chain.
We need to expand our reach and open new visitas that will create new opportunities for the profession and increase our relevance in community practice. Can we do more in disease prevention? Vaccination? Paediatric Nutrition? etc. We must seek new opportunities for Global cooperation with international institutions
It is intriguing that non-pharmacists seem to be prospering in the Pharmaceutical business while many pharmacists are barely able to make decent living. This is a travesty. I intend to impanel a team that will generate ideas on what we need to do to empower pharmacists, especially the young but also the elderly to obtain maximum benefit from their practice. We will focus a lot on the Young Pharmacists from Internship to full and gainful employment. They must be saved the agony of running from pillar to post searching for a place for internship or leaving school with no future in sight. Pharmacists must be proud to identify themselves as pharmacists and reap the benefits of their professional calling as much as those business men and women who have made genuine and legal investments in the Industry and related services. Pharmacy must be made to work for all pharmacy professionals. Full stop!
Borrowing from my experiences in NECA where we started and completed the NECA Plaza within four years of my Presidency without borrowing and at the NESG where we raised the funds and started the process of acquiring an office property during my four-year tenure as Chairman or at the Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce where we bought a piece of land during my tenure, I will mobilize the Pharmaceutical Industry which I have had the privilege to lead at both National and Regional levels and indeed the entire Organized Private Sector, which again I was once the Leader, to support the current effort to build the Pharmacy House in the commercial capital of Nigeria, Lagos. Our nearly century-old professional organization deserves such a befitting centre that will also help to improve our Financial self-reliance and sustainability. We will also seek partnerships and creative funding schemes to pursue the Abuja project.
Finally, I intend to bring visionary, mature ethical and God- fearing leadership to our Society. We plan to run a robust consultative, democratic and inclusive governance style that will identify and use the best resources that abound in our Society to serve the interest of the profession. We shall accord all professional arms and interest groups within the Society their due respect and honour without fear of favour. We shall build a happy family of professional Pharmacists where Justice, equity and fairness will prevail. And as stewards, we shall be accountable and by the grace of God leave the Society more prosperous, more united and better equipped than we met it.
I thank you all for the honour to be considered for this important assignment at this critical juncture in our professional journey. God bless you all
Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR, MON, FPSN, FNAPharm, FPCPharm, NPOM