Shuttling between Campuses, Major Challenge at NDU – President, PANS

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Happiness Ogweh

In this exclusive interview with Adebayo Oladejo, President of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), Niger Delta University (NDU), Bayelsa State, Happiness Ogweh, bares his mind on the challenges associated with studying in a multi-campus higher institution. The 14th PANS-NDU president and Delta state born scholar also speaks on his foray into Pharmacy and PANS politics, as well as his achievements and challenges in  office. Excerpts:

I strongly believe in the tenets and principles guiding leadership through the mechanism of mediation, replication and multiplication. This has worked extremely well for me over the past years; it has made me to gain much recognition within and outside the faculty.

With leadership experience, I am highly motivated to contribute with my interpersonal, investigative problem-solving, organisational, and teamwork skills, as well as being open to learning new skills.

I have maintained a first class CGPA, and showing excellent abilities across the board. I have a few awards of outstanding leadership and academic excellence. I am an awardee of the Federal Government Scholarship Board.

In a nutshell, I believe that leadership is about being adaptable, flexible, trustworthy, reliable, and willing to learn. I am willing to connect and pitch ideas with like-minded minds.

Many students studying Pharmacy actually chose Medicine as their first choice. Are you one of them?

I am not one of them. I opted for Pharmacy, and I figured that it was the best for me at the age of 12, after attending my elder brother’s induction ceremony as a pharmacist.

I feel many students chose Medicine because the awareness of the beauty of Pharmacy wasn’t there at the early stage of our educational history. This is the more reason we need to do a lot of pharmacy profession awareness campaigns across the country, focusing on the younger ones.

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Also, I think the percentage is gradually reducing, and more students are beginning to opt for Pharmacy now.

Why did you join politics in school?

We have very few or no pharmacist in the political space, so it’s very difficult to initiate and implement certain favourable policies for the massive growth of the pharmacy profession.

I have better plans and vision for the pharmacy profession in Nigeria, especially in the regulatory and administrative facets. At the state level, we have constantly been engaging the Bayelsa State Government regarding the growth of the pharmacy profession.

It is wise we start engaging more future pharmacists in the political space if we want a rapid advancement in the pharma industry.

It can be tough combining your studies with active involvement in other activities. How have you been coping as the president?

First and foremost, you need God. Leadership took a big part of me, I must sincerely confess. However, it has shaped me to the point where I am confident that with my political advocacy and involvement in politics after school. We can make a change in the pharmacy profession.

Well, as a young chap, who wanted to come out with good grades, I focused more on garnering knowledge and values in my early years of pharmacy school, before delving into politics in my penultimate year.

So I would say that, because my foundation was very strong, I didn’t need to struggle too much in my academics, and I already know what works for me to get my distinctions. I also have a group of friends that have been a major motivation for me in pharmacy school.

Time management is also a key factor, coupled with setting your priorities right. Know yourself, and work at your own pace. My dean, lecturers and the entire staff of the faculty have been a major support to my academic journey as well.

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What achievements have you recorded and what challenges have you encountered so far?

For the first time in five years, we are currently running a proper PANS government in NDU – the executive council, as well as the legislative arm, with the establishment of a good number of standing and ad-hoc committees. So we run an all-inclusive government.

I have been able to revive PANS in NDU after it was banned for five years, and I have been able to lay a concrete foundation, a blueprint. There was a huge gap between PANS-NDU and affiliate professional bodies and the major pharmacy stakeholder in the state, but we have been able to establish a solid relationship, by closing that gap. We paid courtesy visits, for the first time in five years, to all the relevant offices in the state.

We successfully organised a befitting orientation programme for our 100 Level students, the first time in five years. I am currently running a project, Mortar and Pestle, in front of our faculty. We initiated the renovation of our toilet facilities, and we bought some reservoirs for seamless use. We bought podiums in some of the classrooms, and I opened an official bank account for the association. Pharmacy is the only faculty in NDU that has been able to achieve that.

We have aroused and spurred the interest of pharmacy students to engage in politics. PANS-NDU produced a PRO at the university SUG, and we are currently reviewing our PANS-NDU Constitution, which will be a major achievement for my government. Also, we won a business pitch award at the Faculty of Nursing Sciences.

However, talking about our challenges, we have plenty of ideas but lack financial buoyancy. Funding is a major factor to achieve certain desires. Foundation is a very hard thing to lay. I suffered in laying the foundation, but the next set of leaders will enjoy what we have done.

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Are there peculiar challenges associated with studying Pharmacy at NDU?

The transportation system is a major issue we are faced with in the Faculty of Pharmacy, NDU. Shuttling between two campuses is no joke at all. We need more full-time staff in the faculty, as well as a permanent, all-inclusive faculty, with all classes and laboratories situated in one place.

Moreover, we need to redesign the academic calendar to enable us to go for our Industrial Training for, at least, three months. Irregular power supply, due to hikes in prices of fuel, coupled with network issues, have been a challenge for our researchers and students at the new campus site.

Many schools of pharmacy in the country are upgrading to PharmD. How would you react to this development?

Well, I must applaud the PCN for ensuring that we transition and upgrade to the PharmD programme in Nigeria, because that’s actually what is being awarded in other developed countries. So it’s impressive that the profession is growing, and we have moved away from the lick, stick and pour, to become more clinically-oriented professionals.

However, there should be room for massive, flexible conversion programmes for those interested. I believe it will contribute significantly to the healthcare sector, specifically the clinical pharmacists.

Where do you see PANS- NDU in the next five years?

The zenith – massive growth and advancement, to the point where the state government will be very much interested in investing more in our graduates.

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