As the days draw near for him to hand over to a new leadership, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), has stated that his administration has delivered on all the promises he made to pharmacists during his campaign for the PSN presidency in 2015.
Speaking with Pharmanews in an exclusive interview recently, Pharm. Yakasai said that he had run an intense presidency for the past three years and would continue to give thanks to God for making it possible for him and his team to achieve all the objectives they had set at the inception of the administration.
The PSN helmsman noted that his administration, through advocacy, had been able to enhance the image of PSN locally and internationally in the last three years, adding that among his achievements in office were the eventual actualisation of the PharmD programme in Nigeria, the reclaiming of the PSN multibillion naira property in Victoria Island, and the establishment of the PSN Foundation to support the vulnerable in the profession and the society at large.
Pharm. Yakasai also disclosed that preparations for the 91st conference of the PSN had been assiduous, assuring pharmacists that the conference, tagged “Oluyole 2018” will be a huge success. Excerpts:
The 91st Annual National Conference of the PSN is here with us. What measures have you put in place to make it hitch-free and memorable for participants?
Preparations for the 91st Annual National Conference of our noble Society are in top gear. The CPC chairman and his team, as well as the staff at the national secretariat, are working diligently to make sure that this year’s conference, “Oluyole 2018”, in Ibadan, is a huge success. Our commitment is to organise one of the best PSN conferences in the history of the Society – a conference that is educating, empowering and entertaining to all participants.
We implore our colleagues to come to the conference with an open mind to learn new trends in the practice of the profession and also create time to enjoy the hospitality of the good people of Ibadan.
For the past three years, you have been noticeably active; how many of the objectives in your campaign agenda have you achieved?
As you have rightly pointed out, the past three years have been intense for me and my team. To the glory of God, we have delivered on all of the promises we made to our colleagues in 2015 during our campaign. Some of the key objectives achieved are: Enhanced image of PSN locally and internationally through advocacy; actualisation of Pharm.D Programme in Nigeria; reclamation of PSN multibillion naira property in Victoria Island Lagos; establishment of PSN Foundation to support the vulnerable in the profession and the society; establishment of a Medicines Information Centre in Collaboration with UK Medicines Information Service, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and Monitor Healthcare Ltd.
Other achievements are: better coordination among PSN technical groups, interest groups and state branches with PSN national; improved rational use of drugs in Nigeria; national campaign against drug abuse and misuse; “Your Pharmacist” programme was launched on TVC; encouragement and provision of more opportunities for young pharmacists, as well as building of capacities of young pharmacists and students of pharmacy; strengthening of institutional architecture (structure, systems and processes) of PSN; and strengthening of PSN ties and relationship with other professional organisations / agencies through Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN).
We also leveraged on Information Technology (IT) to solve the challenges of National Drugs Distribution Guidelines (NDDG). We renovated Pharmacy House and created a new PSN President’s Office at the national secretariat. We established the Board of Fellows Wall of Fame, as well as Honorary of PSN members and Friends of Pharmacy at the National Secretariat for recognising and endorsing valuable contributions of members (past, present and future).
We promoted and supported drug research and development by building a PSN monument at NIPRD and linking the indigenous pharmaceutical companies with NIPRD. We also improved the organisation of the annual national conference of the PSN to match international standard; created an online system for professional registration and payment of capitation; established Friends of Pharmacy Forum that has strengthened PSN bonds with external bodies; created better engagement with the public through educative and enlightening special promotion campaigns; initiated BASF Young Pharmacists Award to empower young female pharmacists in the profession; initiated Biogenerics Integrity Award for Hospital pharmacists to promote professionalism and ethical conduct in the Society;
We equally promoted peace, harmony and interprofessional relationship among all healthcare practitioners; registered PSN with the EFCC Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML); digitalised PSN Pharmacy Journal; stimulated public awareness and knowledge on various health, hygiene, sanitation issues and diseases with specific emphasis on drugs; digitalised annual PSN capitation and other dues (PSN Pay powered by Chamsswitch); reviewed Pharmacy Law; organised the inaugural PSN Presidential Debate and also developed the PSN Vision 2050 Strategy Document.
You tremendously made use of advocacy to improve interprofessional cooperation and relationship during your tenure; what prompted this decision and how helpful has this strategy been?
I sincerely believe that, for progress to be achieved, there is need for peace and harmony. Besides, together we are stronger. I am a man of peace and I love to spread peace. This strategy has helped us to focus our energy on delivering results for our profession rather than wasting the same energy on conflict.
My administration embarked on productive advocacy visits in the last three years to policy-makers and decision-influencers in the country. I met with members of the Executive and the Legislature at the federal and state levels.
In April 2016, I led a powerful team to visit the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, at Aso Rock. I also visited the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, GCON, twice; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, CFR; the Head of Civil Service; ministers, the Inspector General of Police, governors, former presidents, traditional rulers, leaders of healthcare professionals, and many other decision influencers across the six geo-political zones of the country.
Our administration’s achievements reiterate the power of advocacy and its numerous benefits when done properly.
This upcoming PSN election has been quite unlike any election in the annals of the Society. The election of the president in particular is turning out to be very competitive, with four strong candidates, and there have even been allegations of smear campaigns on the social media concerning the candidates. What are your thoughts on this new development and how can such issues regarding the electoral process be better managed?
It is unacceptable to use the social media to tarnish people’s image. We won’t allow that to happen anymore. We are men of honour and we must set good examples for others to follow. The pharmacy profession is a noble profession and we must be seen to be above board in all our endeavours.
It is clearly stated in the screening guidelines that any candidate who deploys or sponsors, through proxies, the use of regular or social media for abusive, divisive, unethical and intolerant campaign messages targeted at colleagues or principal officers of the PSN would be disqualified and we are still watching till the last day. It is not over until it is over.
What is your advice for the incoming PSN leadership?
My advice for the incoming PSN leadership is to see the office as a great opportunity to serve the profession and all Nigerian pharmacists, home and abroad. In addition, he should use the power of advocacy to reach out to decision-makers, lawmakers and healthcare professional bodies. The leadership should walk in the path of peace, have a listening ear, operate an open door policy and have the fear of God.
I wish whoever emerges God’s grace and guidance to continue on the little contributions we made, which a lot of people adjudge as a job well done. It is well with pharmacy profession in Nigeria and nobody can destroy our noble profession and Society by the grace of God.