As the newly elected executives of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State Chapter, prepare to take over the reins of service, the outgoing chairman of the association, Pharm. Olabanji Benedict Obideyi, has urged them to continue with the dreams and aspirations of the forefathers of the association. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Pharmanews recently, Obideyi reminisces on the last three years of his administration, highlighting the successes and challenges. Excerpts:
How has it been as the chairman of the largest ACPN chapter in Nigeria?
It’s been interesting and quite challenging. For me, actually, it’s been a rare opportunity to serve the association and to also learn, because leadership is not something one learns in school. In the course of working, I have been able to learn a lot and gather experiences. So, for me, it’s been a worthwhile experience, especially knowing that I was contributing to the development of the association.
What were your motivations for taking up the exalted office in the first place?
Attending to the needs of the association, improving the standard of the association and attending to the yearning of our members, as well as contributing my quota to the progress of the association were part of my motivations for taking up the challenge to be the chairman. I think to a certain extent, I have been able to achieve some of these – maybe not up to the extent one would have wished due to some challenges, including the pandemic which crippled so many of our regular programmes and made our performance to be a bit low this year.
How many of your goals were you able to satisfactorily achieve?
I have been a cabinet member of the ACPN since 2012 when I became the secretary, after which I became the vice chairman. I later emerged the chairman about three years ago. So, I had witnessed about two administrations before mine. I had seen a lot – the challenges, the achievements and the lapses. Consequently, when I became the chairman, it didn’t take me much time before I get down to business.
At inception, we had a lot of goals and we were able to do a lot during the first and second years, except for this year when we had setbacks as a result of the pandemic. As I said earlier, my major goal was to protect the interest of the members and attend to their aspirations, which we were able to do. We instituted a policy that made it easy for members to acquire the pharmacy emblem and we enforced the monitoring, which to a certain extent addressed the issue of fake emblems.
We also, to a great extent, addressed the issue of harassment of our members by the law enforcement agents and regulators, especially during the codeine saga. Also, at the peak of COVID-19, as a responsible association, we contributed our quota to the containment of the pandemic by donating hand sanitizers and other items to all the local governments and local council development areas in the state.
Recently also, we conceptualised the idea of having a cooperative venture and government has given us the approval to go ahead.
Aside from COVID-19, were there other challenges that affected your administration?
None, really, as our members have been cooperating and have fulfilled all their membership obligations by paying necessary dues and other obligations. However, we could say that there were challenges in terms of funds because, as a result of the pandemic, so many of our programmes were unable to hold. Consequently, revenue generation dropped drastically this year. Our members of the executive have been working as a team and the general members too have been cooperating with us. So I would say it has been a peaceful house in the last three years.
There were lots of agitations and internal wrangling when you were coming on board. What is the situation now?
Yes, there were lots of agitations about our laws not being in tandem with today’s practice. So, when we came in, we sat over it and the AGM in 2018 mandated us to review those laws and today we have bye-laws that have addressed all the issues that led to that pre-election agitations.
Looking back, would say you are fulfilled being the chairman, ACPN-Lagos, for the last three years?
No leader, whether in an association or government, can confidently say he or she has been able to fulfil all of his or her aspirations, but I am fulfilled because I have done my quota. When a leader is elected or selected, they always have certain goals that they want to achieve, but at the end of the day – either due to time factor or other factors – they may not be able to achieve everything.
I won’t say we have fulfilled all our aspirations but, to a certain extent, without doing self-praising, we have not done badly. Within the short time, we were able to successfully amend our bye-laws; we visited all our zones; we set up a forum for timely information about regulatory and pricing for members; we worked together with donor agencies to build the capacity of members; we created an enabling environment for acquisition of emblems; we continually updated the database of members; we donated hand sanitizers to all the 57 local governments and local councils in the state; we facilitated the formation and take-off of ACPN Lagos cooperative society; and so many others.
We have no regrets, really, but some of our plans that could not be achieved due to certain constraints include delivery of an e-secretariat to the association, and resolving the problem of exclusion of our members from the Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme. This second issue was occasioned by our not being able to see the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, due to COVID-19 pandemic. But it is our hope that the incoming administration would work on achieving these among other plans they may be having in minds to execute.
What is your advice to the incoming administration?
To the glory of God, we have done our bit, so I would want the incoming administration to continue from where we stopped, and take the association to the next level. I would want them to continue in unity and oneness and carry everybody along.