It was a gathering of pharmacists, diplomats, government functionaries and other eminent personalities, as Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, former Chief Executive Officer of Neimeth Pharmaceuticals Plc and chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group marked his 65th birthday.
The colourful ceremony which took place at Sheba Events Centre, Ikeja, Lagos on 17 August, 2015 had in attendance, Prof Anya O. Anya, President of Ndigbo Lagos; Dr Christopher Kolade, former chairman of the Subsidy Re-Investment Programme (SURE-P); Mrs Stella Ohuabunwa, wife of the author; and Bishop of Lagos West, Anglican Communion, Rt Rev James Odedeji and Sir Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State in attendance.
Speaking on the personality of the celebrant, Obi described him as a man of virtue who has done remarkably well for both himself and his country.
Pharm. Bruno Nwankwo, chairman, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) shared the same opinion.
“As for the celebrant, I will say that he is a very vibrant Nigerian and a successful pharmacist. A good student who makes the best use of every opportunity and also believes in sharing, he is the sort of man we in pharmacy cherish a lot,” he said.
Pharm. Ade Popoola, chairman, PSN Board of Fellows described Ohuabunwa as a trailblazer in the pharmacy profession.
“He is one of the most visible pharmacists we have around who is living to the standard. We are here to rejoice with him. On behalf of the board (because he is a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria too), I wish him a happy birthday and more years,” he remarked.
According to Dr Lolu Ojo, immediate past national chairman of the Nigerian Association of Industrial Pharmacists (NAIP), ‘Mazi’ has become a brand that is synonymous with Sam Ohuabunwa.
He explained that the celebrant has excelled in many ways, and not just in the pharmacy profession.
“He has been virtually everything from being President of the Economic Summit, to being President of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce and President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN),” Ojo said, adding that “Mazi is a man to be emulated. He is a mentor. I am happy to be invited because I believe he has such a catchment that is so big that people like us might not make the list. But his invitation shows that he considers us important.”
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa studied Pharmacy at the University of Ife, graduating in 1976. He further had a postgraduate training in Business and Organisational Management at the Columbia University, United States. He joined Pfizer Products Plc in 1978 as a sales representative and rose to become the chairman/CEO in 1993.
In 1997, he led the management buy-over of Pfizer Inc shares in Pfizer Products Plc, transforming the resultant company – Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc – into a medium-sized Nigerian R&D Based Pharmaceutical company. He voluntarily retired after 33 years of service in the industry, 18 years of which were at CEO level.
Ohuabunwa is a fellow of several Professional Organisations, including the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (FPSN); the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (FNAPharm); the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (FPCPharm); the Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM); the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (FNIMN); the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (FNIPR); and the Institute of Management Consultants (FIMC).
A founder of the Sam Ohuabunwa Foundation for Economic Empowerment (SOFEE) in 2009, he equally serves as the Managing Consultant of Starteam Consult, as well as being on the board of several organizations.
A Knight of Saint Christopher (KSC) of the Anglican Communion, the pharmacy icon serves as national coordinator of Strategic Operations of the Full Gospel Business Fellowship International. He was honoured as a Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), in 2001, and an Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), in 2011.
Sharing his opinion on the celebrant, Varkey Verghese, vice chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) and managing director of Jawa Group of companies described him as an embodiment of greatness.
“I have known Sam for the past 15 years and ever since I came in contact with him, I have found him to be a great personality and patriotic Nigerian. He always encourages entrepreneurship and support for local industries. That is what I like most about him,” he said.
Corroborating his view, Pharm. Chibuike Agaruwa, chief executive officer of Euromed Limited disclosed that Ohuabunwa was his classmate and professional colleague.
“We enrolled for Pharmacy at the same time in September 1972 at the University of Ife. I have known him to be forthright, intelligent and exuberant. He is always dedicated to the cause he believes in. I have no doubt that the best has not come out of him yet…Sam has combined his natural intellect with the wisdom of God. No doubt, he will continue to make tremendous progress in his lifetime,” he said.
During the event, the celebrant introduced two new books he recently published – Sam Ohuabunwa’s Paradigm: Thoughts on Contemporary National Issues and The Port Harcourt Volunteer.
The first book, Sam Ohuabunwa’s Paradigm: Thoughts on Contemporary National Issues is a compendium of selected recent articles and presentations by the author in what he calls his writing ministry.
The Port-Harcourt Volunteer is essentially the story of the Nigerian political crisis which started with the January 1966 military coup and culminated in the Nigeria Civil War (1967–1970).
It would be recalled that the author had published three similar works in the past: Preventing Business Failure, Nigeria: Need for the Evolution of a New Nation and Economic Empowerment in God’s People.
Also in attendance at the event were Pharm. Ifeanyi Atueyi, managing director of Pharmanews Limited; Pharm. Lawrence Anyafulu, a PSN Fellow; Pharm. (Mrs) Stella Okoli, group managing director of Emzor Pharmaceuticals; Pharm. Ike Onyechi, managing director of Alpha Pharmacy; Dr Femi Olugbile, former chief medical director in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH); Pharm. Lere Baale, director of Business School of Netherlands and Pharm. (Dr) Lawrence Ifebigh, managing director of Ladith Pharmaceutical Company.