The recently concluded Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), tagged “Crocodile City 2019” and held from 4 to 9 November in Kaduna will be remembered for its uniqueness in the years ahead by many participants who attended the gathering.
In a rather unprecedented move, more than 4000 pharmacists stormed the city of Kaduna for the conference, which was held at the Kaduna Trade Fair Centre and themed “Navigating the Wind of Change in Professional Practice in a Volatile Economy.” To have this huge turnout for the conference during a period when there was so much security concern in Kaduna and the adjoining cities as a result kidnapping and banditry was indeed phenomenal.
We commend the Kaduna State Government for not leaving any stone unturned in ensuring the security of lives and properties of all participants at the conference. Kudos must also be given to the PSN Conference Planning Committee (CPC) and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for mobilising pharmacists from all over the country to be part of the event. Most importantly, we salute the commitment of pharmacists themselves who placed their passion for the profession above every odd to be at the conference.
Another high point of the historic gathering was the presence of the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai and the Deputy Governor, Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, at the opening ceremony. This was also unprecedented. It is rare to have the two helmsmen of a state at a single event; but the PSN made this possible at the conference in Kaduna. It was a testament to both the hard work of all who were involved in organising the conference and the goodwill of the state government towards the pharmacy profession.
The opening ceremony was also very colourful because of the presence of other top dignitaries, including Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, minister of state for health; Prof. Pat Utomi, the keynote speaker; Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, director general, NAFDAC; past PSN presidents, Pharm. (Alh.) Yaro Budah, Pharm. (Dr) UNO Uwaga, Pharm. Azubike Okwor, Pharm Olumide Akintayo and Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai as well as top captains of the pharmaceutical industry.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Utomi, gave a powerful foretaste of what to expect throughout the conference with his insightful analysis of the conference theme which got him a standing ovation at the end of the presentation. Also, the introduction of a standup comedian to lighten up the mood at the opening ceremony was a delightful initiative, as it significantly added colour and glamour to the ceremony.
The idea of having live transmission of conference proceedings on a large screen in the exhibition ground was also a laudable idea as it allowed those at the exhibition to keep track of what was going on in the hall.
However, aside from the above high points and others that made “Crocodile City 2019” a resounding success, there were also some lapses that should be noted and avoided in future conferences. The first of this shortcomings was the distance of hotels to the conference venue. The distance made commuting to and from the conference venue tedious. While the LOC must be commended for providing buses for transport, it would have been much better if the conference venue had been closer to the hotels.
Another drawback was the capacity of the conference hall, which was clearly too small to accommodate participants during the opening ceremony, forcing some of them to stand during this important session.
It is also important to note that, these days, conferences are live-streamed for people who are in far places, so they can keep track of proceedings. We urge the PSN to do all that is necessary to make this possible at its conferences while also ensuring maximum publicity for the annual event. We must also point out that since exhibition has become a major component of the PSN conference, more should be done towards making the exhibition ground comfortable and spacious for participants.
As we look forward to the next PSN conference holding in Osogbo, Osun State, the PSN CPC and LOC must take on board lessons learnt from the historic conference in Kaduna and ensure that the 2020 conference is an improvement on the just-concluded edition.