Pharm (Sir) Ike Onyechi is the national president of Christian Pharmacists Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN). In this exclusive chat with Pharmanews, Pharm. Onyechi, who is also CEO of Alpha Pharmacy and Stores, outlines the expectations of CPFN from the incoming PSN president. He equally decries the activities of pseudo-Christian pharmacists, denouncing their membership of the CPFN, while urging all pharmacists to be the best in their capacities. Excerpts:
As president of the Christian arm of the PSN, how would you assess the activities of the CPFN in the last three years?
The Christian Pharmacist Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN) is geared towards watching and moulding the spiritual lives of Christian pharmacists. Actually there are some improvements on the part of the CPFN as we have improved activities from Ilorin to Akwa Ibom, Ibadan and Abuja. The last conference was more momentous than others; people turned out en masse and we shared the word of God with them. This is more of what we can do, as well as pray that God will touch the people, after giving them the word.
The overall PSN leadership has shown some improvements. Olumide Akintayo, the outgoing PSN president, has become a very outstanding personality in JOHESU by engaging other groups in negotiating with the government. On our own part as CPFN, we ensure we are getting better.
There has been so much rancour among health care practitioners in recent times. In what ways has the CPFN intervened?
The CPFN can only pray, while doing some advocacy in talking to people at the forefront of the controversies. But I’m not stopping at physical controversies, because there are deep controversies in the spiritual realm, typical to end time predictions. Is it only in the PSN? Is it only in the health sector? Where do you have peace? Christians should sit up and call to mind what the Scripture has said in Matthew 24, and in the book of Daniel, too.
Look at Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Qaida in Pakistan and other Asian countries. I mean, there is turmoil all over the world. Incredible things are happening all around. Look at Russia bombing Syria like no man’s business; Israel and Palestine in recent times – the violence has escalated over there again; Libya is not excluded from the outrage.
The health sector issues are mainly between doctors and other health workers; the doctors feel more prominent than others. The government is also to blame in the issue, because they make empty promises without fulfilling them. And doctors who shut down hospitals in a bid to protest, and allow patients to die, after they have taken oaths to preserve lives, will definitely be answerable to God. Ours, at CPFN, is to urge people to continue to pray for peace.
What is the theme of CPFN for the 88th year of PSN?
The theme of CPFN’s last convention in Abuja, in August, was, “Rekindle the fire: Expanding our coast”. We are hoping to get into more spirituality, living more in righteousness, which will exalt a nation, and which will bring us in favour with God. That even when there are afflictions, the Scripture says “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver him from them all”.
In this turbulent times, we are praying for pharmacists to find a space for Christ in their practices, lives and families. The theme, “Rekindle the fire; Expanding our coast” was taken from Apostle Paul’s admonition to Timothy to fanup the gifts that were in him, that were getting dim. In the same vein, we are saying to pharmacists, “Stand up, you are a scientist; stand up, you have been endowed to improve the health care system and wealth of this nation”. This encouragement is imperative now because of the dampening environment and the dampened morale of people. We are saying, get up and go; you are trained to add quality to people’s lives.
How practical would it be for pharmacists to expand their coast with the harsh economic situation in the country?
“Expanding your coast” is a spiritual term, not necessarily what they need billions to acquire. It is something they already have; that they should wake up to make the best use of it.
Even the money they already have can be put into better use, and when you are working in righteousness, and in the fear of God, you are sure that God is backing up what you are doing. The economic condition does not affect God’s children adversely, as you are connected to the economy of heaven – if only you can retrace your steps back to your root, that is, Christ. God knows His people, and He does not leave them in the wilderness.
So many professing Christian pharmacists have not been living up to expectations at work places, as there are several allegations of fraudulent dealings in the industry. What is your take on this?
This is not the case of Christians or so-called Christians. The nominality level in Christianity is as high as 75 per cent, because 75 per cent of those who say they are Christians are not Christians. But those who are genuinely born again are not involved in all of these. But if at all they are involved, it could be as a result of temptation they were not aware of earlier. When one is tempted, God gives ability to overcome the temptation, but if you are walking on your own, then you can fall into all these plunders.
We just had similar experiences here in my company – one in Kaduna, another one in Jos – where a medical rep took goods in the name of a customer, but diverted it elsewhere, and started paying the money in bits; but the customer he used his account got to know later on. Such a rep cannot be regarded as a Christian. Many people who go to church don’t even attend our fellowships, because they know that CPFN talks about deeper Christian ethics. We don’t have even 30 per cent participation, which is sad. We can only boast of 20 per cent participation. That is why this is still happening. When people come to God, God helps them, thus you need not steal to eat.
What are your expectations from the new PSN president?
We wish the new PSN president success. We advise that he should have more interactions with the CPFN, because it would afford him opportunity to be closer to God, and if God is backing you up, whatever you do will last. No matter the physical experience he has got, he must stay close to God. The level of the fear of God in PSN leadership can be better than what it is now. This is our biggest expectation.
How would you advise all pharmacists in the wake of the change administration of president Buhari?
All pharmacists are urged to work with the fear of God; because that is the only guarantee you need to have a good work. Whether you are a Christian or non-Christian, be more devoted to your work. Work diligently. Be focused. Choose the area of pharmacy that you are best at and work hard at it; then God will lift you up. Even the president will be happy with you because, certainly, there will be more sanctions now for unprofessionalism in the profession.