The initial plan for the part two of this article was to do an in-depth analysis of the current administration of the Society from 2012 to date. However, the story of the administration is still unfolding and a good judgement will be to wait until the end before we start to write the history.
I am most hopeful that the elections in November will go on smoothly and a new president will emerge after the national conference. This optimism is not without prejudice to the current pre-election issues which I know that we have the in-house capability to resolve amicably.
I have made my views known, in the strongest terms possible, to all the parties involved and no further useful purpose will be served by an open-air discussion in this column. All will be well with the profession and our beloved PSN.
This part two of the article has now been converted to an open letter to the new president as a continuation of the agenda-setting objective for the new administration.
My dear President,
I wish to congratulate you on the remarkable feat of being elected as the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN). You are now the number one pharmacist in Nigeria and the torch-bearer of the society. This is a position of authority which carries with it a plethora of responsibilities and accountability. You are already aware of the numerous challenges facing the profession and there is no need to recount them here again. Nigerian pharmacists are now more sensitive to the activities of their leaders and the expectation from you is gargantuan.
These expectations are made more sensitive by the very nature of your emergence as the President. There is so much work to be done and it will be better for you to hit the ground running immediately. I will request that you look into some points enumerated below in addition to the points raised in the part one of this article. The points are by no means exhaustive and I believe you and your team will seek opinions from far and close quarters to govern us well.
- Strategic visioning
It is possible that you have a manifesto which has defined the direction which your new administration will take to deliver on the set targets. You need to quickly sell this idea to the society now that you are the president. Fortunately, the outgoing administration has done a lot of work on this and I will urge you to review the document deeply and map out plans for execution.
Having a strategy allows you not only to choose what to do but also to decide on what you will not do. Michael Porter told us that “Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.” You need to be truly strategic to take Pharmacy in Nigeria to a greater height. The truth is that you have so many strategic-minded people around and your job as the manager is to find them and motivate them to action.
- The national conference
The annual national conference is one of the most strategic assets of the Society. It is more than an event and, like the FIP congress, it has a life of its own. The conference is viewed and patronised by many people, organisations and groups for different reasons. To the Society, it is an annual ritual which must be carried out; a melting or connecting point and a unique opportunity to develop and shape policies, and of course, an avenue to generate revenue.
To the manufacturers and importers, it is a market. A once–in-a-year opportunity to promote and sell goods. In Uyo, last year, the scenario outside the hall was comparable in size, outlay and intensity to that of the weekly Aswani Market in Lagos. To the pharmacists themselves, it is an annual pilgrimage which must be observed and also, a veritable opportunity to connect with old friends.
We need to re-package the national conference to make it more enriching, interactive and scientific. We can adapt some of the actions seen at the 2015 FIP congress in Germany which had a full-fledged pharma expo running concurrently. It is possible. Let us be early by choosing the core committee members to develop the repackaged document and get a stakeholders’ buy-in before the end of the first quarter of 2016. The industry, as represented by PIPAN, should be an active participant in the restructuring process. It can be done if we set our focus on it.
Nigeria recorded the highest number of delegates at the FIP Congress held in Dusseldorf, Germany. Similar feats, I learnt, were recorded in Amsterdam (2012) and Dublin (2013).
The low participation by Nigerians at the 2014 edition in Bangkok caught the attention of the authorities and was partly responsible for the presence of the FIP stand at the PSN national conference in Uyo in November 2014.
Officially, 239 Nigerians registered to participate at the Dusseldorf Congress. The number might be more (up to 300) considering the fact that many Nigerians would do late or on-the-site registrations; as well as the high number of accompanying participants who are not captured in the official register.
Conservatively, Nigerians must have spent more than one million euros on the congress. This is about 254 million naira at the current open market exchange rate. We cannot begin to speculate on the motive of the participants and the level of their participation here. What is important is that we can convert this observation into another strategic asset for the Society. I will propose that you set up a working party to take charge of Nigeria’s participation and turn the quantity into a qualitative advantage.
- Participative management
As alluded to in the first part of this article, there is a growing disconnect between the governors and the governed. The activities of the Society are getting too centralised, with a disproportionate emphasis on the position and person of the President. I think we can achieve more if we begin to work actively and collaboratively at the periphery. There will be synergy if the President will create an active forum for strategy formulations and executions between him and the technical groups. By so doing, the required linkages will be built and the Society will be better for it.
The President also needs to engage the state chairmen to fashion out the specific needs of each state and devise ways of meeting them. We should not wait for issues and crisis to develop before we start engaging.
It is important for you as our president to lead us back on the path of professionalism in the practice of Pharmacy in Nigeria. We are, by training, pharmaceutical scientists before anything else. We cannot win if we follow the rat-race in the market place, without adequate consideration for our origin.
Nigeria is certainly not one the best places in the world to practise Pharmacy, given the numerous obstacles embedded in the society. Nevertheless, it is our responsibility to create a unique environment which will make us to be proud of our practice.
- Inter-professional collaboration
I have been very consistent in my view and considered opinion that we should actively pursue inter-professional collaboration for better pharmacy practice in Nigeria. This pursuit should be deliberate and decisive and to be initiated from the top.
According to a renowned war strategist, Sun Tzu; “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” As the new President, it is really your lot to devise new engagement rules which will bring victory to the house of Pharmacy. The same war strategist told us that “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war; while defeated warriors go to war and then seek to win” and also that “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” It is up to you as the Society looks forward to a better environment of practice.
I have prayed and will continue to pray that God will give you the wisdom, strength of character and courage to make a positive difference in our professional lives.
Please accept my best wishes for a successful and memorable tenure as PSN president.
Yours in the service of Pharmacy,
Dr. Lolu Ojo BPharm, MBA, PharmD, FPCPharm, FPSN, FNAPharm, DF-PEFON