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How bureaucratic bottlenecks obstruct Nigeria’s development, by Afe Babalola

By Ayodele Afolabi, Ado-Ekiti
20 September 2022   |   4:06 am
Founder of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola, yesterday, blamed bureaucratic bottlenecks by agencies of government for impeding the country’s development.

Afe Babalola

Founder of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola, yesterday, blamed bureaucratic bottlenecks by agencies of government for impeding the country’s development.

Citing instances, the legal icon said while it took some countries just five months to produce COVID-19 vaccines, scientists and researchers in Nigeria have not been able to translate their projects into products because of the menace.

Babalola spoke at the opening ceremony of the ‘Drug Discovery Africa 2022’ conference, held at ABUAD campus in Ado Ekiti.

He said Nigerian scientists could match their counterparts all over the world. But the drawback is the system in which they operate and lack of cutting-edge equipment.

He explained: “When we ordered equipment, even though the law provides that medical equipment are exempted from tax and custom duties, the Nigerian Customs refused to give us concession.

“We had a horrible experience when Customs insisted we must pay duties, even when the equipment were given free by donor agencies. Customs collected hundreds of millions from this university as tax and duties. This is apart from the cumbersome system in approving drugs by relevant approval agencies.

“For example, the biomedical research on Virucidine was completed at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and approval was granted nine months later by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Unfortunately, up till now, despite spending millions of naira, the clinical trial is yet to be completed due to system inefficiency.”

Babalola said: “This is not different from the experience of the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Adeyeye Mojisola, who also complained of inefficiency of the system in approving her anti-sickle cell herb medication.

“I, hereby, appeal to this body to ensure that this bureaucratic bottleneck is immediately removed, to ensure scientists can translate their research into product in shortest time possible, as done in other climes, where within five months they were able to produce vaccine for COVID-19.”

He, however, said the herbal Virucidine liquid developed by the university, though undergoing clinical trials, has been tested and is effective against COVID-19.

He added: “I can tell you here that Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Federal Medical Centre, Ebute- Metta, Lagos, and hospitals in Ekiti have confirmed 72-hour zero conversion in COVID-19 patients.

“Currently, we have data for the treatment and management of diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, breast cancer and autism from herbs in our medicine garden.”