In this exclusive interview, the President of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), Bayero University, Kano (BUK), Abdullahi Haroun Saleh, bares his mind on issues affecting pharmacy education in Nigeria. He also speaks on his foray into Pharmacy, PANS politics, as well as the achievements and plans of his administration. Excerpts:
How did you become a student of Pharmacy? Was it your dream course while in secondary school?
To be honest, even as at when I was in SS3, I had no idea what Pharmacy was. I only wanted to become a medical doctor. I got to learn that I was admitted to study Pharmacy at BUK, a course I did not choose.
As fate would have it, the same year we wrote JAMB was the year Bayero University started offering Pharm. D as an undergraduate course. We were fortunate to be chosen among thousands of students, to study one of the best courses in the world.
I was sad at first, but after we got exposed to what Pharmacy is all about, I fell in love with it. I knew we were meant for each other. And honestly, if I were to go back in time, I would choose Pharmacy over all other courses.
Amidst a tight academic calendar, what were your reasons for vying for the presidency of PANS-BUK?
Well, I had the opportunity to head the committee responsible for creating PANS-BUK, as well as the constitution. Being the pioneers, we were tasked with that and we spent three years in office, after which we stepped down.
After a year, I was approached by a group of students we tag the “Faculty Elders”. They wanted me to officially contest for the office of the president in our first-ever PANS election.
It was a difficult decision to make because there were school activities, side hustles, and personal struggles. But after looking at how we left the association and its current state as of then, I had no choice but to contest.
There was a need for an experienced person to take the association back to its glory days and that motivated me to contest; and luckily, I won.
Are there challenges associated with studying Pharmacy in the north, compared to other parts of the country?
I have been to the south only once and I have interacted with many pharmacy students from the south. There are no challenges in studying pharmacy in the north, compared to the south – or none that I know of, except the general challenges affecting all universities and courses across the country.
What achievements have you recorded and what challenges have you encountered so far?
We’ve achieved quite a lot as a team, looking at the time we’ve spent in the office. Under my leadership, we have achieved the annual free online registration for all pharmacy students. We also established the first office for PANS-BUK, published and launched the first PANS-BUK magazine, and established the PANS-BUK shop. These are just a few of the numerous achievements we have recorded.
It can be tough combining studies with active involvement in other activities. How have you been coping?
It’s honestly difficult combining studies with being actively involved in other activities. But I have had the discipline of doing that since my secondary school days so that makes it easier for me. There were challenges at the beginning and I struggled. My grades started dropping and I was losing focus. Over time, I got used to it, by devising a strategy of studying at any free time I get rather than fixing a specific time for studying. That way, I get to compensate for the time I spend attending PANS activities, which consume most of my time.
If you had the honor of changing some things about pharmacy education in BUK, what would they be?
Without being biased, I believe pharmacy education in BUK is one of the best out there. The faculty management makes sure they give their best and, that way, things tend to run smoothly.
I would only change one thing if given the honor to do so. I would make sure that all test results and scripts are given back to the students before exams. That will, to some extent, reduce the failure rate in all courses.
ASUU is currently on strike. What, in your view, are the measures that university lecturers can take to resolve issues rather than embarking on strikes?
I am on ASUU’s side on this. They have no choice but to go on strike. The party that needs to cooperate is the Federal Government. If they are really concerned about the future of the next generation, then they need to meet ASUU’s demands and bring an end to the strike.
Where do you see PANS-BUK by the time you will be leaving office?
I have the dream of making PANS the best students’ association in the whole university. I know it will be a difficult task, but we have done it before and we can do it again. And by the time I leave office as the president, PANS will be the best students’ association in BUK.