It was Steve Jobs who once opined that to make a meaningful impact in the world, “you have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.” For Adam Abdulraheem, popularly known as PharmaCopious, a 500 Level Pharmacy student and president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, what drives his passion, is the desire to be a public healthcare provider and ultimately join national politics so as to serve the less privileged in the society. In this interview with ADEBAYO OLADEJO, the young scholar who was born and brought in Zaria, highlights the peculiarities of studying Pharmacy in the northern part of the country, as well as the achievements and plans of his administration. Excerpts:
Why Pharmacy, out of several other health-related courses you could have studied at the university?
My drive to prefer Pharmacy is its multidisciplinary nature. Despite Pharmacy being a tedious course of study at the university, it is still the most loved, luxurious, satisfying and most versatile profession in the healthcare space. It is only a pharmacist that produces a product and also renders a service, the medical doctor only offers service and so do the nurses and other members of the healthcare team.
How did you become PANS-ABU president?
The journey started towards the end of my 300 Level days, as a result of advice from my friends and different members of the faculty to contest for the office of financial secretary, which was my first official role. I worked with the then president, Pharm. Suleiman Muhammad Gidado, and his successor, Sen. Huzaifah Ahmad Muhammad, as financial secretary and secretary-general respectively.
I gathered exuberant experience from the administrations and that forms the basis for my aspiration to contest for presidency. The trust that PANSites had in me was what motivated me to run for the post of president.
It can be tough combining studies with active involvement in other activities, how have you been coping?
It’s very tough and rough, but I plan my activities. I attend most lectures and practicals but use most of my nighttime to plan ahead. I know myself, so I usually read a day or even a night to an examination or test. Despite the hardship, being in the forefront and as a voice and representative of entire students of the faculty, I have to work the extra mile to ensure the stability of both the academics and leadership.
That’s the beginning of the future; one must surely be a leader someday, today or tomorrow. For me, it has started and the experience is becoming an inspiration to do more and soar higher.
What achievements have you recorded and what challenges have you encountered so far?
So far so good, I have achieved a lot from the inception of my administration to date. The most important of this is rendering support to PANSites in need of moral, academic and financial support. With support from our patrons and mentors, I have been able to complete 50 per cent of my agenda within the first quarter of my administration, though most of them have not been launched due to the halt in academic activities. Immediately after resumption, the projects shall be a surprise to all.
The few I can mention here are free registration support for newly admitted students where we make all necessary uploads, photocopy and printing of documents; editorial publications; bringing the first-ever PANS e-library to the limelight; refurbishing the Pharmacy Garden; provision of teaching and learning aids to classes; financial aids to students to enable them to pay school fees; and many more academic and welfare interventions.
We are still not relenting during the strike as an online poetry competition was hosted and the winners were awarded cash prizes.
Are there challenges associated with studying Pharmacy in the north, compared to the south?
Yes, of course. Pharmaceutical firms are abundant in the south and that gives the students more opportunity to explore different aspects of the profession with ease, most especially Industrial Pharmacy aspects. Here in the north, we don’t have industrial settlements and that limits the experience graduates get in the industry – unlike the south which has abundant industries to venture into during SIWES, sessional breaks and others.
Some years back, internship placement was far easy to secure in the north than in the south, due to the limited number of pharmacy schools and abundant internship centres in the north, compared to the south; but now it is very difficult. Some people spend two or three years of post-graduation before getting to start their internship.
The scandal of “sex-for-marks” has recently become a significant issue in universities, especially in public schools. How would you react to this, using the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ABU?
I don’t know how to react to this, because it does not in any way affect the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ABU, Zaria. I hear about that only in the news, but it has nothing to do with my school. Pharmacy students are known to be talented go-getters and hardworking students within the university and beyond.
If you had the honour of changing some things about pharmacy education in ABU, what would they be?
Firstly, the curriculum; technology is advancing each and every day and so also should our curriculum. Many old techniques are now extinct but are still part of the curriculum while new technologies that are available now have no space to get accommodated. Reviewing the curriculum will clear a lot of debris and create room for advancement.
Secondly, the introduction of summer semester or resit examinations because students may fail tests and examinations due to reasons beyond human control, like health and mental reasons. Aside from that, many people spill over because of one or two courses. The introduction of this summer semester or resit examination will bring an end to this kind of issue.
Finally, infrastructural development, which is also as paramount as any of the earlier stated, involves upgrading the laboratories, libraries, lecture halls and pharmacy students’ accommodation to global standards, in order to compete with any pharmacy school in the world.
When you finish from pharmacy school, which area of pharmacy practice would you consider and why?
Public health pharmacy and the reason is to serve the world by ensuring healthcare for all and bringing in policies that will positively affect the health status of the world. I have a keen interest in community pharmacy, but it encompasses a specific population; while public health pharmacy is vast and encompasses the world, especially the rural areas and the less privileged. Also if conditions warrant, I will join politics.
Where do you see PANS-ABU by the time you will be leaving office?
PANS-ABU will be at an enviable height by the end of my administration – becoming an association doing well to serve its members and protect their interests. The PANS of my dream is that which will have the ability to cater for all her members’ need. It will be another great milestone; a bigger picture, which portrays the core values, dedication and honesty.