Published On: Fri, Mar 15th, 2013

Can’t Stop The Shyning

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 Can you pay the price?

For regular readers of this column, you would know that this is that time of the year when I spend more time in the air than on land. I comb the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, teaching the customers of the multinational pharmaceutical organisation I work for during the day, the gospel of excellent customer service. Though a very inconvenient period for me because it takes me away from the warm embrace of my family, I find joy and satisfaction doing what I love doing best: which is adding value to the world around me.

Unfortunately, this is not the best time to be anywhere outside your home. Apart from bombs flying and kidnappers lurking in the corner, for some strange reason, all major airports in Nigeria are undergoing major turnaround renovation. Sometimes one is tempted to ask the question: Must all airports be renovated at the same time? Some people are quick to answer, “YES, OF COURSE!” All contracts had to be issued at once so that all kickbacks can be collected at once?  While it is not in my place to prove or disprove this, I must say it’s a really traumatic experience travelling by air these days. It becomes a disastrous calamity if it rains. The whole place is in a terrible mess. From Lagos to Abuja, Port Harcourt to Enugu, the story is the same.

As I write this piece, I am in a makeshift construction hall, on my way from Enugu, waiting from my flight. Though this represents much more sanity than what obtains in Lagos, where we were squeezed into a canopy with so much hustle and bustle.  As I was shoved from right to left on the long winding queue leading to the check-in counter, I couldn’t help imagining an emergency or accident happening. The casualty level due to stampede alone would be catastrophic. When the airline official saw the exasperation on my face, all she could say was: Try coming here when it rains! I couldn’t even picture that in my mind. The scene looked like rush hour in the pre-Fashola Oshodi.

However, as grim as the picture I am painting looks, I am in support of the ongoing initiatives being executed. For us to live in an atmosphere of gain, we must undoubtedly pass through a period of pain. I remember countless passengers in the recent past who have complained bitterly about the state of our airports, comparing them with those available in developed climes. The same passengers are now complaining of the construction going on. If we must enjoy the elitist status, we need to pay the price at some point. I guess this is the time.

As if the torture in the air wasn’t enough, the Federal Government, in its great wisdom, has also announced its intention to work on the 3rd Mainland Bridge. No news can be worse for anyone working on the island. Just like the lamentations about the airport, people have complained severally about the state of the bridge. Even I have seen and felt the vibrations, while using the bridge. Therefore, for us to have a safer bridge, we must pay the price.

Coming home to Pharmacy, like the airports and 3rd Mainland Bridge, we have complained about the state of our noble profession. The troubles, challenges, trials and travails we face on a daily basis make us wonder whether it’s a profession worthy of being practised. When we compare our lot with that of colleagues in more developed societies, we begin to wonder whether it is the same profession we belong to or another. However, the real issue is whether we are ready to pay the price the forerunners of those societies paid several decades ago. Paying the price is never a palatable experience. It is a painful experience and we therefore need to brace up for the required pain to deliver our desired future.

As hospital Pharmacists, are we willing to engage in extensive self study necessary for us to build intellectual confidence to go on ward rounds and rub shoulders with medical consultants? As academic pharmacists, are we bold enough to confront the archaic curriculum we are running and have a radical overhaul, such that we have a realistic and relevant curriculum to train 21st century pharmacists? As industrial pharmacists, are we ready to embrace the code of ethical marketing, even though we are the major champions of bribery and corruption in the medical arena? Are we ready to change our ways, even though we know we may not have any other viable strategy? As community Pharmacists, are we ready to confront the 200m restriction to logical business we place on ourselves, even though no forward looking country has such obnoxious policy? Are we willing to allow pharmacies open in filling stations like we have in other enlightened countries? If we can buy food and groceries in a service station, why not drugs? As community pharmacists, are we willing to spend money on ourselves and deliver ourselves from the shackles of the illusion of knowledge?

Remember that you would be the same person you are now in five years, apart from the books you read and the people you meet! Take charge of your destiny! Plan to attend the fourth edition of The Panel coming up shortly. Those who attend this event annually never fail to shyne!

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Can’t Stop The Shyning