It was an epoch-making moment, filled with reminiscence, joyous reunions and intellectual discourse, as members of the Great Ife Pharmacy Alumni Association (GIPAA) gathered at their Alma Mater- Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, for their first of its kind pharmacy alumni conference in grand style.
The colourful and memorable maiden edition of the event, which took place at the aesthetic foyer of the Pharmacy Faculty, OAU, from 23 to 25 May 2018, attracted eminent alumni of the institution, among whom were : Pharm. (Chief) Bunmi Olaopa, managing director, Evans Medical Plc, and former chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN); Sir. Ifeanyi Atueyi, managing director, Pharmanews Ltd.; Prof. Lara Orafidiya, first female dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, OAU; Mazi Sam Ohabunwa; former managing director, Neimeth International Plc.
The list of participants of the conference also included: Pharm. Olakunle Ekundayo, managing director, Drugfield Nigeria Limited; Pharm. (Alh.) Ismail Adebayo, former national chairman, ACPN; Prof. Peace Chinedum Babalola, vice-chancellor, Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Ogun State; Prof. (Mrs) Oluwatoyin Odeku, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan, Oyo State; Dr Lolu Ojo, former national chairman, Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP); Prof. Adebayo Lamikanra, former dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, OAU; Prof. Wison Erhun, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, OAU; Pharm. Mathew Azoji, managing director, CHAN Medi-Pharm Limited, Jos, Plateau State, among numerous others.
Sir Atueyi, who was the oldest alumnus present at the historic event, having graduated with Diploma in 1964, and bagged his Bachelor of Pharmacy in 1967, expressed his delight for being privileged to witness such an occasion in his lifetime, saying it was great honour for him to see the faces of alumni of the faculty, whom he has seen several years back, and who have become accomplished in their different chosen endeavours in Nigeria and in Diaspora.
The Pharmanews boss, who was the chairman at the symposium, however lamented the absence of his set of alumni at the reunion, noting that most of them have retired from active service. “I am delighted to be here with you all, because it makes me feel younger. However, I think I would have been happier, if any of my set of alumni had been here, so that we can also interact and reminiscence just like you are all doing today. Nonetheless, I am happy the faculty is doing well and our products are becoming a force to reckon with across the country, and beyond”, he said.
Speaking at the event, the National President, GIPAA, Pharm. (Chief) Bunmi Olaopa, who called for a minute’s silence in memory of those alumni who have departed the earth, however recalled that the idea of having an organised alumni body was mooted in 2015, during the Institution’s fifty years anniversary, which eventually led to the birth of GIPAA.
Speaking further, Chief Olaopa noted that the robust role of GIPAA cannot be overemphasized, adding that government can only operate within the limit of its income, and that in an environment where there are competing demands for very scarce resources available to fund and manage educational institutions, it is the alumni body the school will always revert to for assistance in their developmental quest.
According to him, GIPAA has an onerous task of bridging the engagement between the faculty and its graduates and to ensure that the engagement is not only effective, but enduring. He added that the condition of so many facilities in the faculty, including the laboratories and lecture halls, are not in good shape, stating that the group has agreed to take up these responsibilities.
“GIPAA has adopted two different models for project funding in the faculty- the first being the set model, allows members of a particular set to come together under the class umbrella to undertake a particular project in the faculty, and the other model, where the entire alumni body will embark on a project, that may be too big for a class set to handle, through the support of the National Executive Committee”, he said.
He therefore appealed to all graduands of the faculty, who graduated since the 60’s and who are still alive to get their classmates together, those at home and Diaspora, and begin to discuss on the project they can embark on, in order to give back to the faculty.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Fola Tayo, who spoke on the theme of the conference, “Harnessing Resources to Meet Pharmaceutical Needs: Global Trend”, described the theme as being very apt for the nation’s present situation, saying Nigeria has no business being poor, noting that failure of different government administrations to deliver, and lack of political will to harness resources have been responsible for our present woes.
Other speakers were: Prof. (Mrs) Oluwatoyin Odeku, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan, spoke on the topic: “Local Sourcing of Pharmaceutical Raw Materials; Pharm. Olakunle Ekundayo, group managing director, Drugfield Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Limited, Ogun State, spoke on the topic: “Local Pharmaceutical Manufacturing -The past, the present, and future prospects; and Pharm. Mathew Azoji, managing director, CHAN Medi-Pharm Limited, Jos, Plateau State, also spoke on :”Accessing Quality Pharmaceuticals in Nigeria”.”
The high point of the event was the unveiling of executed projects, which include: The New Lecture Theatre, furnished and maintained by 1985/1986 Set; Postgraduate Reading Room, furnished and maintained by 1984 set; E-Pharmacy Library, furnished, equipped and maintained by 1990 set; El-Said Lecture Theatre, renovated and maintained by 1992 set; Marquis Lecture Theatre, renovated and maintained by 1988 set; Borehole, sunk by 1995 set; Medicinal Plant Garden, planted and maintained by 1995 set, among others.