One of the unforgettable moments for Martin Nwofia, a 500 level Pharmacy student of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State, came on 1 July 2021, as he received the Pharmanews PANSite of the Year award plaque and a cheque of N75,000 from the company’s Managing Director, Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi.
The presentation, which took place at the corporate head office, of the publishing firm, in Mende, Maryland, Lagos, was witnessed by personalities, such as Pharm. Ignatius Anukwu, chairman, Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP); Mr Patrick Iwelunmor, editor, Pharmanews; Mr Moses Dike, business development manager, Pharmanews; Mrs Temitope Obayendo, online editor, Pharmanews; as well as relatives of the winner, which included Okafor Emmanuel, Nneli Faustina, Vitalis Nwofia and Peter Nwofia.
Speaking at the occasion, Atueyi appreciated all the guests for coming over, especially Anukwu, who is an uncle to the award winner.
He retraced the beginnings of the Pharmanews-PANS (Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students) relationship since 1979, noting that PANS had always appreciated Pharmanews, which explains why the Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi Essay & Debate Competition was initiated by a former University of Benin PANS president in 2015.
Atueyi said: “I want to thank God for making this day possible. We all know how last year went and how it was not easy for everyone. I also want to thank the online department for initiating the concept and for their efforts in making the ceremony a reality.
“We started with the Young Pharmacist of the Year, then PANSite of the Year, and now we have Outstanding Pharmacist of the Year.”
Reiterating the purpose of the award, the Pharmanews boss said it is to encourage scholarship, academic excellence, as well as excellence in practice. He further disclosed that PANS has recently named a new Quiz & Debate Competition after Pharmanews, stating that it will hold in September, during the PANS National Week.
“This is how PANS shows appreciation to us for being supportive to them,” he said. “I am thankful that we are able to influence them as a body and our intention is to catch them young, so that we will always be remembered for our good deeds”.
Atueyi also mentioned that for the fourth time in a roll, Pharmanews was recognised by the Nigerian Healthcare Media Excellence Award. “We maintain our position as number one when it comes to pharmacutical journal publishing,” he said.
In his remarks, Anukwu corroborated Atueyi’s view that Pharmanews is a household name among pharmacists and healthcare professionals. He revealed that as far back as 1985 when he was at University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka, Pharmacy students were mostly identified in their hostels by Pharmanews sticker on they door.
He added: “Sometime in 1999 during the PSN conference, I met Sir (Pharm.) Atueyi and I asked who he was. They said, ‘That is the publisher of Pharmanews, I was really elated to have met him.”
Anukwu also described his relationship with the winner, saying he was elated to see him receive the award.
He said: “I remember sometime last year at the NAIP conference; we went for a health mission and I saw how he was happy to follow me. I also observed his participation during the PANS national conference, his activeness and how he had picked interest in leadership.
“So, when he gave me a call that he won the Pharmanews PANSite of the year, it was really not much of a surprise to me. I encouraged him to keep the flag flying, knowing fully that it is not just a success but a challenge to keep winning something like this, as he cannot afford to embarrass Pharmanews.”
He urged Nwofia to be a good ambassador of Pharmanews.
In his response, Nwofia expressed immense gratitude to God, his family, Mr and Mrs Peter Nwofia, his uncle, the Pharmacy faculty of his school and the dean, Daniel Eze, his team and everyone that came around to join him in the celebration, saying as it is a remarkable event in his life.
He added that he and his friends are always eager to read Pharmanews, saying his best column is “Heroes of Healthcare”, which profiles Nigerians who have made remarkable contributions to the healthcare sector. He also revealed that he has some of the pictures of the “heroes” in his room as this reminds him that he is not there yet.
“I also want to specially thank the Pharmacy Icon’s good gesture and all those who nominated and voted me for the award. I want to thank the online editor for putting PANSites in the agenda of Pharmanews.
“I remember, last year, on my 21st birthday, I made a mental note that I would walk into offices and take awards I rightfully deserved. Awards I worked for. I am glad I am gradually doing that,” he said.
Narrating his motivation to be engaged in public health advocacy, Nwofia said when he was in Year 2, he realised that there is more to Pharmacy than sitting down in his classroom to just be listening to lectures, adding that he knew there were grounds to be covered, which was what motivated him to be hosting programmes out of his pocket, while using the name of PANS.
Nwofia, who said he has a passion for public health issues, said he has hosted many programmes, sensitising people on world health days on diseases, such as hypertension, malaria, hepatitis, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.
He said: “I am currently representing my school in PANS public health and I can also call myself an award recipient. I want to specially thank myself for combining Pharmacy with all extracurricular activities, such that, against all odds, I could still make myself proud. I know this will be an added advantage for me, which I know could pave other ways for me.
“If this was last two to three years, I would conclude that this is my apex. Presently, I know that this is the beginning for me. The apex is far ahead.”
Pharmanews Editor, Mr Patrick Iwelumnor concluded by encouraging Martin, noting that the award is a symbolic call to leadership, which shows that he has the capacity to become a leader. He added that this is the time for him to think out of the box and begin to solve problems.
Other contestants who participated in the poll were Emelda Ezugwu (UNIZIK); Gaji Abubakar (UNIMAID); Akpus Adigizi Ilya (UNIJOS); Azeez Yusuff Olanrewaju (UI) and Jeremiah Tyokosu (UNIJOS).
The first and second runner-ups will be contacted in due time by the management of Pharmanews for their consolation prizes.