Lauretta Obakpolo is a 400 level student of the Department of Pharmacy, University of Benin (UNIBEN), Benin City, Edo State. She was recently elected president of the Student Union Government (SUG) of the university, having defeated five other male contestants, thus becoming the first female pharmacy student to ever hold such a position in the history of the institution.
In this interview with Pharmanews, Lauretta, who hails from Uhunmwonde LGA of Edo State, reveals why she contested for the coveted position of SUG presidency, as well as her concerns about the state of pharmacy education in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Congratulations on your recent election as SUG president of your institution. What prompted your interest in school politics?
Passion to render service propelled my actions. It had been my passion right from my secondary school days to go into politics, because I believe that politics provides a very good platform to contribute my quota to the society. School politics is a good platform to prepare one to face the outside world politics after school. It is a good training ground for those that intend to go into politics after school. I pray that God who has made it possible for us to attain the present level will give us the wisdom to safely impact the lives of UNIBEN students.
How did the students take the news of having a pharmacy student, especially a female, as their new leader?
Sincerely, the news came as a huge surprise to many, as many of them couldn’t believe that a female could emerge the union’s president, despite the fact that male contestants were also in the race. But at the end of the day, they joyfully received the news as it has become a reality.
Since money is essential to the survival of any organisation, how do you intend to source for funds?
Sourcing for funds will be from well-spirited individuals and from organisations, especially financial institutions.
What areas of the pharmacy profession do you think the PSN and other stakeholders need to address urgently?
Pharmacy education is becoming uninteresting because of the contents of the curriculum. Repetition of topics is coming into the curriculum, making it long and tedious. Therefore, a revision of the curriculum will be a good idea. Although I am not yet in practice, I think all areas should be reassessed, since dynamism gives beauty.
In addition, community pharmacy practice should be addressed urgently as it has become all-comers affair, because many people who have no business selling drugs are now selling drugs to people and this is very bad for our country.
The maiden edition of Pharm. (Sir) IfeanyiAtueyi National Quiz/Debate Competition was held here in UNIBEN. What can you say about the competition?
The competition was interesting and educating. It gave students the opportunity to exercise not just oratory skills but a well-balanced knowledge about our society. I am using this opportunity to appreciate Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi for his efforts over the years to ensure that pharmacy education keeps improving and also to tell him that, as Oliver Twist, we are planning to come soon for his support towards our proposed inter-university debate coming up in October by God’s special grace.
How do you balance your academic workload as a pharmacy student with the demands of running the Students Union office?
As I said earlier, the passion I derive from seeing to the well-being of my fellow students has been keeping me going. However, proper time management and delegation of responsibilities has been helpful.
What is your advice to female students seeking to follow your footsteps in vying for SUG presidency?
To all the female students, do not believe what people say or when they say you cannot do certain things in life. You’ve got the potentials to do all you desire; so go out and stand tall among your colleagues.