…As Wannang, Odeku, Oreagba endorse ‘Dean of the Year Award’
It was a gathering of professors at the indoor hall of the Pharmanews corporate head office, Lagos, Thursday 23, November 2023, as the likes of Prof. Ibrahim Oreagba, secretary general, West African Postgraduate College odf Pharmacists (WAPCP); Prof. Noel Wannang, former secretary general, WAPCP, and Prof. (Mrs) Oluwatoyin Odeku, former dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan, were present to celebrate Prof. Azuka Oparah, Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, UNIBEN for winning the Pharmanews Dean of the Year Award 2023.
Oparah emerged winner of the intensely contested competition for the Pharmanews Dean of the Year Award 2023, having polled a total of 1539 votes from the online poll, which ended in 7, August 2023.
The Dean’s Award is the 6th Annual Award sponsored by Pharmanews Ltd, as part of the organisation’s corporate social responsibility to the pharmaceutical industry.
The awards for pharmacists and Pharmacy students are the Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi (SIA) Essay & Debating Competition, which started in 2015; the Young Pharmacist Award, established in 2018; the PANSite Award, introduced in 2019; Outstanding Pharmacist Award in 2020 and Pharmanews Interschool Debate Competition in 2021.
Speaking at the Award Presentation programme, Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, publisher of Pharmanews, noted that the maiden edition of the award which started in 2022, was won by the Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Professor Festus B.C. Okoye, adding that the idea of the award came up because of the need to appreciate the great work the deans are doing in the schools of pharmacy across the country.
His words, “We realise that the general performance of a faculty has a lot to do with the leadership, administrative, and management ability of the dean. A dean who has good public relations will relate well not only with the students but also with fellow lecturers, the university authorities, and even external organisations or institutions. Students always remember their deans by their performance.
Speaking further, the Octogenarian called on the deans to be conscious of the fact that people are observing their performance while in office, saying they must endeavour to perform well and leave good records behind them. “In addition to the Dean’s Award, we started Dean’s Corner in Pharmanews this year. This column is designed to make the deans known outside their faculties. I am happy that the deans are responding to our invitation to be featured in this column,” he said.
While congratulating the winner, Prof. Oparah, he stated that the Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi Debate & Essay Competition was started in the Faculty of Pharmacy University of Benin in 2015, adding that the same faculty has produced the current President of PSN in the person of Prof. Cyril Usifoh, whom he said is the first professor in the university to serve as PSN President.
He continued, “Of course, your faculty blazed the trail in 2007 when you started awarding Pharm. D. degrees. It is my prayer that your tenure as dean will be remembered for good. May God grant you the wisdom and strength to finish well,”
In his speech, Oparah, noted that his relationship with Pharmanews, and by extension Sir Atueyi dated back to close to 40 years, precisely in 1986, when he was the National President of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students (PANS), adding that he was a regular visitor to his office to either solicit for financial support or to invite him to the students organised programmes.
The elated Oparah further disclosed that initially, the exercise didn’t make much sense to him until it went viral and he started receiving phone calls from people across the country and beyond, adding that he is a shy person who loves to achieve things silently.
“The kind of awareness this award has created about me was unprecedented, to the extent that people were calling me from all over the country, even outside the country, and in my school, it became great news to the extent that when we go to the Senate, people address me as the ‘Dean of the Year’. So it has brought a lot of publicity for me, within pharmacy as a profession, and especially in my institution,” he said.
“It has also helped in making me the most popular dean in UNIBEN, and it has brought me close to the management. So, I think I owe that level of awareness to Pharmanews and I must thank the publisher, and his team for the wonderful job that they are doing”, he enthused.
While appreciating his students across the country, the university don, promised not to disappoint the trust reposed in him by those who voted him, as well as promised to work extra hard and ensure that whatever qualities they see in him never diminish, but keep increasing.
“I have seen many people ask me on several occasions, why I don’t behave like a dean, they said the access to me from students was too porous, while I pick up their calls anytime they call, so I told them that I enjoyed doing it and I won’t stop, so for this one year, I have become like an ambassador and torch bearer to Pharmanews and I promise not to disappoint”, he pledged.
In his remarks, Prof. Wannang, said the award was not for Prof. Oparah only, but for all his friends and close associates, adding that what Pharmanews has done as regards the award and monetary benefit shall not be taken for granted, but would be indelible in the minds of all lovers of pharmacy profession. “I must be quick to add that man gives awards, but God gives the reward. So I am not surprised today because I know how resourceful our award recipient today has been, as a colleague, and also as a family friend”.
Speaking in the same vein, Prof. Oreagba, described the award recipient as a good man, a good husband, and a great father to his children, saying his closeness to him has endeared him to the family, and he has found out that he is not just good to his academic children, but also a good father at home.
Speaking further, the university don described the ‘Dean of the Year Award’ initiative by Pharmanews as a welcome development, adding that with all sense of responsibility, the organisation has become a household name in the Pharmacy profession in the country and has continued to project the good image of Pharmacy to the outside world.
In her own remarks, Prof. Odeku, described Sir Atueyi’s effort at uplifting Pharmacy as unprecedented, describing him as a true icon of Pharmacy, who has refused to be deterred by detractors by continuing to pursue the goal of projecting the image of the profession.
She continued, “The problem that is rampant in academia is that we don’t celebrate ourselves. We don’t blow our own trumpet, but now that we see someone who is even ready to showcase what we are doing, some are complaining.
“As for Prof. Oparah, I find it a great motivation for you to receive this recognition because honestly, being a dean is a thankless job. I was dean for four years, and the only motivation I had was that I impacted lives positively, so this is a good development,” she said.