Industrial pharmacists reiterate call for forex priority to save sector
*As Kolade bemoans political class for ‘siege’ on best practices
Industrial pharmacists in the country have again appealed to the Federal Government to give the pharmaceutical sector a priority in allocation of scarce foreign exchange.
The pharmacists, under the aegis of Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP), at their 19th national conference in Lagos, said that the critical sector of the health industry is already running short of pharmaceutical products and raw materials, which might put the entire health sector in dire strait by June this year.
Meanwhile, Former Nigerian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade, has bemoaned the Nigerian system, which he described as “hostile” and a “siege” upon the professional class and the value system.
Kolade, who chaired the conference, with the theme: “Workforce development: imperative for industrial pharmacy advancement “, said that the professionals, who are “apostles of best practices” and most needed in the country, have been shackled by the most “irresponsible” character that the political classes are demonstrating currently.
President of NAIP, Gbenga Falabi, noted that the pharma industry like every segment of the Nigerian economy is not exempted from the challenges facing the economy, particularly with gross infrastructural deficit, lack of vital foreign exchange and constant erosion of its vital asset.
He said the pharmaceutical industry identifies with the commitment of the Buhari’s administration in restoring investors’ confidence in the economy and its zero-tolerance for systemic corruption across board.
“However, we are duty bound to continually put before government the urgent need to treat the health sector and indeed the pharmaceutical industry as a very essential and vital segment of the economy probably only in ranking with security, which deserves special interventions and preference as a result of its strategic role in the nation’s well-being,” Falabi said.
He added that the issue of the paucity of foreign exchange to import finished pharmaceutical products and very essential pharmaceutical raw materials for local production is a very dangerous development with serious negative consequences for the nation in term of availability of essential medicines for the country.
“We are calling therefore on government to consider as a matter of urgency, preferential allocation of vital foreign exchange to the pharmaceutical industry,” Falabi said.
Minister of Industry, Trade and investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelemah, assured the pharmacists of government’s commitment to their quest despite the current challenges.
Enelemah, who was represented by Dr. Francis Alaneme, said that the Federal Government was on course to unlock massive potentials in the industrial sector and launch the country into sustainable prosperity.
According him, the Federal Government had put in place appropriate policies, programmes and projects aimed at effectively tackling some of the constraints facing the manufacturing sector, including the industrial pharmaceutical subsector.
Kolade, 84, used two parodies to explain the character of the political class. First, according to him, is a situation where an erring top ranking official chooses to tamper with grand rules to cover up his misdemeanors; and another where member of an entity, because he does not like the head, choose to write against the interest of the whole.
Both instances, according to Kolade, tells of the sorry state of the Nigerian system and a disincentive to professionals that are trying to be apostles of best practices to build the nation by upholding standards.
According to him, “We as professionals are trying our bests but the environment is very hostile. We see behaviour from seemingly responsible people that is, without missing words, very bad behaviour.”
He added that it was most unfortunate that the young professionals, those still in school and still growing up have nothing to hold on to except what they see, which are not any pleasant.
“My belief is that we are under siege, unless we try to rescue ourselves,” he said.
Continuing, Kolade said: “All these good qualities that we are trying to promote here, all these practices like respectability are under threat. Just as I have put it to you, you would not allow your own officers or leaders to behave in the ways I have just described.
“If, however, in your nation it is possible for leaders to behave that way, your safety and security is not going to last very long. Because, belief me, when those that are supposed to set examples don’t do so, but do something to contrary to what is expected, then we are all under siege.
“My words to your association, taken somewhere in the bible, is to be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary — the culture of impunity — stalks this nation, seeking to drain the energy from what you do,” Kolade said.
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