– Says next DG NAFDAC should be a pharmacist
Pharm. Sir Anthony Akhimien is a former president of PSN. In this interview with Pharmanews, Sir Akhimien who recently completed the mni course at the prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) spoke on his experience during the programme and how graduands of the prestigious Institute can make invaluable contributions to help solve the myriads of problems can fronting Nigeria. He also spoke on why a pharmacist should be the next DG NAFDAC
Below is the abridged text of the interview:
Congratulations on your successful completion of the mni course in Kuru, Plateau State. Tell us about your experience at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
The mni course is indeed a senior executive programme. It is a gathering of top executives from the military, para-military, police, top government officials, politicians and civilians from some selected disciplines in the private sector. The 10-month course is made up of intensive series of lectures, study tours within and outside the country, and individual project topics that have relevance to the participants’ disciplines.
The individual project work is allocated a quarter of the entire course marks. For me, it was the most difficult course I had ever encountered in my life. It became more difficult because I was also the rapporteur for my group. The course work requires skills in writing, reading and ability to comprehend. The course promotes group assignments and compels the individual to process his or her thoughts before reacting to any situation. My consolation is that I have gone through the programme and came out successful.
How many people graduated with you? Were there other eminent Nigerians that completed the course with you?
We were 67 eminent Nigerians, selected from the military, para-military, police, ministries, departments and agencies of government and the private sector. Unfortunately, we lost the participant from Niger State who died two days to our graduation. She was Hajia Maimuna and was a permanent secretary. May her soul rest in peace.
What are the benefits of this mni course to you personally and are there benefits also for the pharmacy profession?
The benefits of the course are numerous. The course has broadened my knowledge about my country, sharpened my thinking and reading skills, educated me to tolerate others, especially in expressing their opinions on issues of national discourse and, above all, build friendship and networking with 66 distinguished and accomplished Nigerians.
Indeed, the course has made me a better manager and I can fit into any establishment when given the opportunity to do so.
The profession of pharmacy that sponsored me will find me more useful and competent, by way of advice and contributions on issues of national interest. They will, by extension, benefit from the good relationship I have built with other participants while on the course.
Having joined the league of eminent Nigerians who have graduated from NIPSS, what is your advice on how the alumni of this institute can contribute more to national development and help solve the myriads of problems confronting this nation?
The motto of the prestigious institute is “Towards a better society”. This motto has also been adopted by the alumni association of the Institute. This makes it mandatory for graduands of the Institute to be patriotic and contribute maximally to national discourse or any issue affecting the development of Nigeria and proffer unbiased recommendations and implementation strategies to the government of the day.
On the eve of our graduation, we had the singular opportunity to meet and discuss issues of national interest with Mr President and his ministers. We made far-reaching recommendations and implementation strategies after an exhaustive deliberation on contemporary issues of national interest.
It is instructive to note that mni promotes the welfare, security and economic advancement of Nigeria and members are willing to serve at all times as the think-tank to all tiers of government.
As an eminent pharmacist, what is your advice to the present government as it contemplates the appointment of a new DG for NAFDAC?
I strongly recommend that the next DG of NAFDAC should be a pharmacist. NAFDAC is a sensitive agency and should not be politicised because its mandate is to guarantee the safety of food and drugs, and nobody can carry out that function better than a qualified pharmacist.
The pharmaceutical, sector like other sectors of the Nigerian economy, faced a tough time in 2016 because of the economic recession, what should stakeholders in the sector be doing this year (2017), not only to get out of recession but to take the sector to the next level?
The pharmaceutical sector of our economy is very important and strategic. Healthcare spending is out of pocket; and for an average family that visits a hospital facility, whether private or public sector, they all buy their drugs directly from stores. The recession in 2016 adversely affected availability of essential drugs as Nigerians rely on importation of drugs for the teaming population.
The strategy in 2017 is to focus on deliberate policies that will encourage the local industries to scale up and produce at least 40 per cent of the nation’s drug requirements. The stakeholders in the sector must come together and bring to the table those short and long term plans that government can adopt, to help the growth of the Industry.
As a past president of PSN, what are your impressions of the current leadership?
The current Leadership of PSN received the support of all past presidents before and on assumption of office. He has only done one year and personally in my opinion, he is adding value to the legacies of our past leaders. I wish him well because he is on the hot seat and, at the end of his three-year tenure, he will join the league of past presidents.