(By YusuffMoshood & Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis)
In what has been described by many as a unique gesture, Prof. FolaTayo, pro-chancellor and chairman of council, Caleb University, has showered encomiums on Dr. Lolu Ojo, outgoing chairman of Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (AIPN), as well as Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, publisher of Pharmanews.
Speaking during the annual national conference dinner and award ceremony of AIPN held at the Welcome Centre, Airport Road, Lagos, Prof. Tayo described Ojo as a man who had proven himself to be a purposeful and dynamic leader.
According to him, the former AIPN boss’ style of leadership is something Nigeria, as a country, is presently missing.
“Sometimes, we don’t appreciate what God has given us. I will readily endorse him to any organisation, whether it is WHO or others seeking his nomination,” he enthused.
The elderly pharmacist recalled that he first came in contact with Ojo when he was asked to supervise the latter’s project in his final year. They never had cause to meet again until several years later when he found that the young scholar of the previous years had become a successful industrial pharmacist.
The professor also lauded Pharm. Atueyi, who was represented at the event by his son and daughter, for winning the 2013 AIPN’s “Icon of Pharmacy” award, saying it was a well-deserved accomplishment.
“Atueyi is a great man! I first met him way back in 1975, when many often teased that we looked alike because of our beards. We have since remained very close since then. I also had the honour of tutoring one of his children. It’s quite unfortunate that he wasn’t around to receive the award himself,” he said.
In a show of appreciation, Dozie Atueyi, who represented his father, thanked the association for according him such recognition. He noted that it was a great honour for such an award-winning arm of the PSN to equally award the celebrated publisher.
Other distinguished pharmacists also received awards of recognition during the AIPN dinner.
Earlier, during the opening ceremony of the 16th Annual National Conference of AIPN held at the same venue, Prof. Pat Utomi, chairman of the event, commended the leadership of the association for its giant strides that have been applauded by all. He urged the new executive to further improve on what has been achieved by the outgoing executive.
Prof. Utomi also urged all Nigerians to work together to make Nigeria better. He said that the key words are: ‘working together’, adding that if Nigerians work together, we can achieve what the developed countries have achieved.
“We need to have a shared commitment on what can make our country to progress,” he said.
Utomi also tasked the various regulators in the country to become partners of the industry/sector they are regulating. He said he had spoken to some potential investors who had some reservations about the activities of regulatory agencies in the country, adding that regulatory agencies must ensure that they carry out their mandate of proper regulation but also help ensure that the industries they oversee grow.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Varkey Verghese, managing director of Jawa Group of companies, who was the keynote speaker, equally called for more cooperation between the industry and NAFDAC.
Verghese, who delivered a paper on the topic: ‘Sustaining The Pharma Business in Nigeria: Challenges and Future Prospects’, opined that the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry has the capacity to grow beyond its present level, if all the stakeholders in the sector work together.
He noted that, with the huge population of Nigeria, the market can easily expand, if some of the challenges facing the industry are tackled.
He identified some of the challenges as: the problem of chaotic drug distribution, lack of government protection through polices for local pharmaceutical industries, unfavourable operating environment and unavailability of local raw materials for production, among others.
He averred that once the challenges holding down the industry are surmounted, the industry will, in no time, grow to the admiration of all the stakeholders and Nigerians, as a whole. He commended the AIPN leadership for standing out, over the years, amongst the technical arms of the PSN.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, president of the PSN, commended the outgoing leadership of the AIPN led by Dr. Lolu Ojo, noting that the outgoing executive members have raised the bar with their performance in office.
He said that the incoming executive must work very hard to sustain the tempo of positive contributions to pharmacy practice and pharmacists in Nigeria made by the Lolu Ojo-led executive.
Speaking earlier in his welcome address, Dr. Lolu Ojo, the AIPN national chairman, said that he was grateful to God and to all pharmacists in the country for the opportunity and privilege to serve the association.
He said that his executive is proud to have discharged its duties creditably well, adding that within the last four years, the AIPN executive has succeeded in building leverage for the association and transforming it into a strong voice for the pharmaceutical industry.
He thanked all those who worked with him to deliver on all that was achieved during his tenure as AIPN chairman, and urged all AIPN members to extend the same level of support to the incoming executive of the association.