On 1 October this year, Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, the founder and publisher of Pharmanews will be marking his 83rd birthday. In this exciting interview with MOSES DIKE, the multiple-award winning veteran pharmacist and pharmaceutical journalist speaks on his 83rd birthday, his retirement plans, as well as the lifestyle modifications that have helped him to stay healthy and active in old age.
You recently marked 43 years of uninterrupted monthly publication of Pharmanews. How have you been able to navigate the vicissitudes of pharmaceutical journalism, which was a largely uncharted territory in Nigeria as at when you started in 1979?
I do not do many things but the few I do, I try to do them well. In order to do them well, I must love and enjoy doing those things. What you don’t love to do, you cannot enjoy doing it and you cannot shine or excel in that area.
Your natural gifts or talents are relevant in whatever you find yourself doing. If what you are doing is in line with what God had planned for you, you will find satisfaction and joy in it. Many a time, people are in the wrong jobs or careers and they never enjoy or succeed in those areas.
I learnt my own lesson from my personal experience. I found myself in Pharmacy because I had no interest in Medicine which I was best qualified to study. Eventually, when I graduated in Pharmacy in 1964, my greatest problem was knowing what to do.
As a young man, I worked, at different times, as a medical representative, community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist, manufacturing pharmacist, and sales and marketing pharmacist. During the Nigeria-Biafra war, I was the officer in-charge of the pharmacy department of a military hospital. In all these, I did not find fulfillment and I was wondering how my working life would end.
It was only when, by divine revelation, I discovered my prospective future in pharmaceutical journalism in 1979 that I settled down and focused on my business. When you are in the assignment God has planned for you, you don’t envy anybody or compare yourself with another person because your calling is unique to you.
On 1 October, you will be marking your 83rd birthday. How has old age affected your participation in pharmaceutical and other social activities?
Growing old makes me to gradually cut down my spheres of activities, although I have never been a person of many interests. I have slowed down in attending some physical meetings; however, I have continued to attend our national conferences. I have a record of attending our national pharmaceutical conferences every year for 48 years.
Also, I am still the vice president of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm) and therefore very actively participating. I am a foundation member and Life Fellow of the Academy.
From 1977, I was a regular face at FIP conferences which were held mainly in European countries but since 2007, my interest gravitated towards the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA) where I am a foundation member and also foundation Fellow. Attending these international conferences offers me the opportunity of travelling and resting.
My interest in church activities and the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) continues to grow with age. In the FGBMFI, I have reached the level of Life Member and National Director Emeritus. Spiritual life demands steady and continuous development. You continue to grow to maturity. It has no end until life itself ends.
I love to read and write inspirational books. I have asked God to enable me produce one inspirational book every year, since 2004. Hitherto, I have written 21 books.
My responsibilities in the affairs of my town, Okija, in Anambra State, continue to grow. Today, I am the eldest, “Okpala”, in my immediate community. This involves providing leadership, counselling and guidance from the wisdom and experience of my age. I should be visiting home more often but for the current insecurity in the country. Thank God for modern communication systems.
At 83, you have been able to manage your physical and mental health quite commendably to the point that you still do a lot of things. Can you tell us some of the lifestyle modifications and habits you have formed to help you stay active and healthy?
I value my health because there is not much I can achieve without good health. Concerning food, my wife is very much concerned about what I eat. I am a diabetic and she keeps away from me high glycaemic foods and drinks. I have not been known for heavy eating. Now, the quantity I consume is drastically reduced but the nutritional value is improving.
I concentrate on fruits and vegetables. I do not eat junk foods which destroy the body. I load myself with essential vitamins and minerals in form of supplements. I like to drink Lasena Water because of its alkalinity. Since I work from home, I rarely eat food outside, where I cannot control what I eat or drink.
I cherish my daily siesta. If you love me, you will not disturb me between 2.00 and 4.00 pm. It is my lunch and rest period.
I have never been a lover of exercises but for health reasons, I walk around within our compound and occasionally along the streets. In the office, I don’t sit down for long. I stand, stretch and walk around.
However, despite these measures to maintain good health, it is the grace of God that I enjoy.
What are your thoughts on retirement? Have you fixed any time for retirement?
I do not know of any fixed age to retire from serving God. If you are not serving God, then you are serving Satan. But you cannot serve two masters.
It is important to know whether what you are doing is of man or of God. If man has engaged you for work, there must be definite terms of agreement. The conditions of service are clearly defined. But if God sends you on a mission or gives you an assignment, you can only take instructions from Him. He will also make the necessary provisions for you to succeed. There is no room for negotiation of conditions of service.
This is why it is difficult for me to determine when to stop working. If He asks me to stop working this month, that’s it. I must obey Him.
Actually, I try to make my own plans as a human being. Of course, God wants us to make plans but such plans must be submitted to Him for consideration and approval, according to Proverbs 16:3. It is only the plan of God that will come to pass. Proverbs 19:21 (NKJV) says, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand.”