Pharm. Olabanji Benedict Obideyi is the new chairman of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State Chapter. In this interview with Pharmanews, Obideyi discusses the circumstances leading to his emergence and his plans for the association. Excerpts:
Congratulations on your election as ACPN Lagos chairman. How do you feel about your emergence?
I would like to appreciate God who has made today a reality in my life and in ACPN-Lagos, because my emergence as chairman was an act of God.
What can you say about the controversy generated by your election?
There is nothing controversial about my emergence. In the first instance, I had served the association in different capacities for six years and, as they say, leadership usually evolves; it does not develop or spring up in one day. So I can boldly say that I have paid my dues and, based on my experience over the years, I am more than capable for the task.
As the vice chairman of the association for three years in the past administration, I worked closely with the former chairman, Pharm. Abiola Paul-Ozieh, and I have garnered the experience needed to get the job done. I believe all our members are behind me, so there is no need for panicking. We are on course to take the association to the next level.
Can you share with us your experience so far working with Lagos ACPN?
Just like I said earlier, I am not the type of chairman that will resume office and start studying the environment for years before doing anything. I have been in the system for some years, so all I need to do is to hit the ground running. I was the secretary of the association for three years under the leadership of Alh. Aminu, and I was also vice-chairman to Pharm. Paul-Ozieh for another three years. Those who know me know that I delivered my responsibility wish commitment and dedication. So, as the chairman, I have the experience and I am happy with the team I am about to work with.
What can you say about your ex-boss, the outgoing chairman?
Pharm. Abiola Paul-Ozieh is a woman I respect a lot. She has really worked very well and built many bridges. All we need to do is to build on some of the things she started and also start some other things she was unable to do.
The job of serving ACPN, either as chairman or any other position is a matter of sacrifice because nobody pays you for doing it. We have resolved to make this sacrifice, and we hope that God will pay us back because it is not easy combining one’s practice with running of the association.
Are there things you plan to start doing differently now as the chairman?
Continuity is actually of essence. Notwithstanding, there are certain things that we have identified and that we intend to start doing differently in this administration. I know some certain issues that the outgoing chairman would have loved to tackle if she had more time and I also know some that are very important to the progress of the association, and we have resolved to leave no stone unturned in our quest to take the association to another level.
The issue of pharmacy emblem, otherwise called the Green Cross sign, has to be looked into with the intention of doing something drastic about it. The emblem is a patented signage of the PSN and has been given to the ACPN to manage. So it is important that all retail pharmaceutical premises hoist one, and a genuine one for that matter.
We also have other plans in the pipeline, one of which is the upgrade of our secretariat. And we are hopeful that we shall get there.
How do you intend to tackle the issue of drug abuse that seems to be getting worse in our society?
As you are aware, ACPN-Lagos recently launched a banner, tagged “War Against Drug Abuse”, and will henceforth be displayed by all our members. We have resolved to intensify campaign against this menace because we have discovered that we need a lot of awareness and sensitisation to reduce the challenge. We are planning to engage the media, both print and electronic, and even the social media to get the information to all and sundry, so that the public will know the danger in drug abuse.
We have also resolved to step up our Pharmaceutical Inspection Committee (PIC) and Taskforce activities, so that charlatans are prevented from stocking prescribed products, because we have discovered that most of the charlatans are the ones selling regulated drugs to people. Every Tom, Dick and Harry now has access to products like Codeine, Tramadol and others because they are easily accessible from these charlatans.
What is your message to ACPN members across the state?
I want to appreciate the confidence and trust they had in us before the AGM, and I want to assure them that we will not disappoint them. We will work assiduously to ensure that the flag of the association continues flying higher and also ensure that their interest takes the mainstream of our decision-making.
I also want to appeal to those who have one grievance or the other towards this administration to sheath their swords and join us to move this association to the next level. In addition, if there is anyone that is not pleased with any of our decisions, our doors will be open – they should feel free to say their minds so that we can make amends, rather than taking to maligning people’s character on social media or instigating people against the administration.
Also, while we are not averse to criticism, it has to be a constructive one, devoid of maligning people’s name, so that the association can move higher.