It was a carnival like arena as parents, guardians, friends and dignitaries in their hundreds trooped into to the prestigious Oduduwa Hall of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, to witness the professional induction and oath-taking ceremony for the ninety-eight pharmacy graduates for the 2011/2012 set. The ninety-eight about to be inducted graduands, who were brimming with smiles, were already seated with their colourful academic gowns as early as 10am, when the programme commenced.
The induction ceremony, which was under the chairmanship of the vice-chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Professor Bamitale Omole, who was represented by dean, Faculty of Arts, Design and Management and chairman, Committee of Deans, Prof Fadare, also had in attendance several eminent guests, such as Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, publisher, Pharmanews; HRM Oba Pharm. OlatundeFalabi, who was represented by Chief Falana, the Aremo of Ikireland; Pharm. Ade Popoola, chairman, Board of Fellows and group managing director, Reals Specialties, Lagos;Pharm. (Dr). Lolu Ojo, national chairman, National Association of Industrial Pharmacists and the managing director, Merit Healthcare Limited, Lagos, who was also the keynote address speaker; Pharm Olumide Akintayo, president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, who was represented by the chairman, PSN, Oyo State, Pharm Lekan Fashesin; Prof O. O. Bolaji, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, OAU; Mrs. Oluwatayo Omotoyinbo, director of Pharmaceutical Science, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State; Pharm A. L. Akinbile, chairman, PSN, Osun State; Prof Adio Ogunbona; Prof Omolara Orafidiya; Prof Mrs.Ajarat Ibrahim, among others.
While delivering his speech, the vice-chancellor, Prof Bamitale Omole, disclosed that he was delighted that the programme came at a time when the institution and the faculty are still celebrating 50th year anniversary. “In the first instance, I am happy because it is the 50th anniversary of starting pharmacy graduate programme in the institution and I am also very happy to be identified with you people because you belong to a profession that is very important, because they are life savers. Without pharmacists, the whole world would have been upside down and a lot of people would have died of treatable sicknesses.”
He therefore urged the graduating students to always strive to live beyond mediocrity in their day to day activities and trust their instincts, when facing challenges. He also advised that they should continuously strive to work hard, as the scope of pharmacy profession has changed from what it used to be to an advanced level, hence the need for them to continuously learn and upgrade themselves, so as to give the best service in their field.
“I urge you to be compassionate at all time and also listen to people’s needs and concerns. As you become members of a distinguished profession like pharmacy, I urge you to learn more on how to improve parental care. Aim very high; after all, you graduated from the premier school of pharmacy in the country. Feel compelled to lead in your chosen profession. As you are inducted today, OAU is ranked among the ten best universities in Africa and presently, the number one in Nigeria, and we are ready to sustain this development.”
Continuing, he said, “We have quite a lot of challenges, especially in the aspect of funding. We need funds for research and infrastructural development, so we solicit for financial assistance from our alumni present. Meanwhile, the new pharmacy building would be handed over to the faculty in the next six months and contracts for the roofing of the old faculty building and purchase of a thirty-seater bus for the faculty has been awarded. This shows how much we value pharmacy profession in OAU, and we hope to do more.”
In his goodwill message to the inductees, Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi appreciated the institution for extending invitation to him to witness such an occasion and to visit his alma mater once again, which according to him, makes him look younger. “Pharmacy is not easy and this is evident in the fact that it is not all that start that finish. Let me state that my experience is unique. No two persons are identical and so their experiences will not be expected to be the same. Our destinies are different; therefore, our routes in life are also different.
“This is my advice to you, before you engage in the practice of different aspects of the pharmacy profession, when you do what you love to do, money will definitely follow you. I also urge you to work in the area of your strength or competence, and as well aim at being and doing your best in all you do. It is also important for you to embrace integrity and honesty, which can move you faster than connections, influence and intelligence, and as well focus and concentrate on what you love to do.
“It is also important to demonstrate diligence in your work and also persevere, especially when facing with oppositions or difficulties. Your initial work may not be what God wants you to be doing. If so, you will not truly prosper. You may have to change jobs, when necessary, until you are in the area of your calling; endeavour to ask God for direction. It is also advisable that you maintain eating and drinking. Cut down your consumption of salt, sugar and products made with white flour, junk food and fats. These have been implicated in degenerative diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases, kidney diseases, cancer, etc which manifest towards old age. Finally, you shouldn’t make the mistake of leaving God out of your life or business. All your intelligence, money and accomplishments amount to nothing, without God’s blessing.”
Dr Lolu Ojo, in his keynote address titled “Professional Character, Relevance and Integrity” defined a professional as the one who willingly adopts and consistently applies the knowledge, skills, and values of a chosen profession; while he defined character as the combination of qualities or features that distinguish moral or ethical strength, capacity, position or status; also adding that it is a characteristic property that defines the apparent individual nature of something.
He explained that there is no reason why pharmacists should be inferior to other healthcare practitioners, especially doctors; adding that pharmacy is a precision science and any mistake from a pharmacist could lead to the death of so many people at a time. He also added that without pharmacy, healthcare has no substance and credibility.
He however lamented the drop in the education standard and low quality of university graduates. “When we were in school, they made us believe that, as pharmacy students, we have no time for social activities, and we adhered strictly to that; but the question begging for an answer is: what is the quality of the university graduates that we turn out today? Under what environment is the teaching taking place? What tools are we using to teach? How is the knowledge impacted and what do we teach?”
Speaking further, Lolu Ojo, who was one-time president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students (PANS), OAU, chapter during his university days, while congratulating the graduating students, also advised them that success in life is not about fame or acclaim, but a venture tried, a challenge met, and a future that they embrace, which is successful only if it makes the world a better place to live in.
“To the new pharmacists, these are the few success tips that I have for you: If you do not go after what you want or desire, you will never have it. If you do not ask, the answer will always sound like a no. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place. If you remain in the same place, you will never see what lies ahead of you. And if you do not know what lies ahead, you will never aspire.”
Earlier in her remarks, Pharm. (Mrs) G.O Abumere, the acting registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), disclosed to the graduands that the attainment of a university degree in pharmacy by a student is the beginning of a great and bright future, as they would still have to undertake twelve months internship training, to expose them to practical applications of the theories they were taught and now equipped with. She added that they would now be provisionally registered by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, the agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, charged with the responsibility of regulating the training and practice of the pharmacy profession, so as to allow them practise.
She noted that the production of additional ninety-eight pharmacy graduates from the institution would again help to address the paucity of pharmacists in the healthcare delivery system of the country. “This number of pharmacists would definitely increase the circle of influence of the pharmacy profession. It is also hoped that these young graduates will go out there to halt the declining trend in the health indices of our dear country, Nigeria. I enjoin you to be good team players with other healthcare professionals, in the best interest of the patients and the society at large.
“I wish to bring to your notice that pharmacists have the obligation in ensuring the rational use of medicine and health commodities, helping patients achieve and maintain good health by optimising prescribed medications. The increasing availability of medicine and their de-classification from Prescription Only Medicine (POM) to over the Counter (OTCs) medicines bring to the fore the need to monitor, not only the efficacy of medicines, but their safety as well. This can be done by no other than the pharmacy professional. The work of the pharmacist includes but is not limited to: dispensing of medicines, patient counselling, education and information of patients, adviser to the medical practitioners, promoting rational and safe use of medicine, detection of known and unknown adverse drug reactions (ADRs), identification of predisposing risk factors to use of medicines, pharmacovigilance, molecular synthesis and development, drug discovery and research.”
While lauding the institution’s efforts so far, as the premier school of pharmacy, Pharm. Abumere further urged the graduands to set good examples of moral behaviour in their profession, home and social life, and as well discharge their jobs with sincerity and with all their hearts, adding that the code of ethics is indispensable for the practice of the pharmacy profession.