There are very good reasons why the recent elections of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) which heralded its new executive committee have continued to attract commendations from stakeholders and observers within the pharmaceutical landscape in Nigeria and beyond. The general conduct reflected such good statesmanship and camaraderie that reinforce the fact that pharmacists, as men of honour, will always join hands in the pursuit and preservation of the lofty ideals democracy, good governance and collective progress.
The immediate past President of the apex pharmaceutical body in Nigeria, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, had during the Gala and Award Night that signalled the end of the just concluded 95th annual conference of the Society in Port Harcourt, stated that the PSN is a body worthy of emulation, going by the peaceful and transparent way it handled the elections. According to him, even the Nigerian government can learn a few lessons from the Society in conducting credible elections.
We agree with him. All through the electioneering process, till the time the votes were cast, there were no cases of rancour, campaigns of calumny, inducement of voters or any other unbecoming conduct. Beyond Mazi’s encouraging remarks, however, we believe that pharmacists, by their profound training, constructive comportments as well as notable antecedents in public office, have a lot to offer the Nigerian state, in building lasting institutions that will guarantee a stable, safe and prosperous society.
Right from the presidential debate organised by Pharmanews and the PSN for the candidates to acquaint the public with their manifestoes and, perhaps, leadership philosophies, the spirit of selflessness and understanding that the four candidates exhibited showed that their individual ambitions were for the greater good of the pharmaceutical family in Nigeria. The passion and commitment that the candidates put into their individual campaigns also typified the unflinching belief they have in the instrumentality of the PSN’s pride of place in offering the right leadership to the Nigerian health sector.
However, it must be noted that the quantum of time, money and other resources channelled into the campaign processes was superfluous. This could discourage potential candidates in future elections, who might not have the wherewithal for such ostentation. The PSN should find a way to institutionalise the philosophy of moderation in campaign spending, in order to encourage more pharmacists to aspire to its leadership positions.
Moreover, as it had been for almost every other election in the history of the Society, there was no female among the last election candidates. It is our view that, as a progressive Society that is abreast of universal best practice and has competent and qualified professionals of both genders, the PSN should encourage gender balance in its internal politics by encouraging more women to aspire to its highest office. It is bewildering that, since the inception of the Society in 1947, only one woman – Pharm. (Lady) Eme Ufot Ekaette – has emerged president (1997-2000). We expect a change of narrative in the subsequent elections.
As we join all Nigerian pharmacists to congratulate Professor Usifoh on his momentous victory, we call on the three other candidates to sustain their exemplary spirit of comradeship by supporting the new leadership with their wealth of experience and expertise. More importantly, we urge the new president to strategically begin to implement his campaign promises.
There is no doubt that Mazi Ohuabunwa recorded a number of notable achievements while in office. Efforts must be made to sustain and build on these to take the pharmacy profession to greater heights. Additionally, Prof. Usifoh must make good his promise of building a united and progressive pharmacy family, where pharmacists are increasingly relevant, respected and adequately remunerated for their invaluable contributions; as well as networking with other members of the healthcare team and other professionals for the growth and development of the pharmacy profession in Nigeria.
Moreover, the president must marshal his executive team and other relevant stakeholders towards getting assent to the Pharmacy Bill, institutionalising the PharmD programme across pharmacy schools, actualising the consultant cadre agenda, resolving the chaotic drug distribution debacle, strengthening relationships with NAFDAC, PCN and other relevant stakeholders, improving the visibility of pharmacists, advancing the Pharmacy Tower project and all other business concerns of PSN, as well as providing purpose-driven leadership for all technical and interest groups of the Society.