Chief Bunmi Olaopa, is the Chairman of the Great Ife Faculty of Pharmacy Alumni Association (GIPAA).In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Chief Olaopa revealed some interesting features of the forthcoming GIPAA conference, as he urged all members to be in attendance.
As the chairman of the forthcoming Great Ife Convention, what are the preparations towards the programme?
The year 2018 Great Ife Faculty of Pharmacy Alumni Association (GIPAA) Convention is coming up on 22 to 27 of May, 2018 in Ife. It is divided into two parts; one is the academic session, which will run from Monday to Wednesday and the non-academic aspect of it, will run from Thursday through Saturday, in order for people to leave on Sunday.
We are expecting attendance from the diaspora and not just those of us in Nigeria; we have alumni who are residents in the US, UK and other countries. This is the first formal meeting we will be having, after the 50th anniversary, which attracted a lot of alumni then.
What year was the 50th anniversary?
That was in the year 2013. So, this is the very first time that we will be going back to Ife and will stay for 2-3 days. This will allow alumni members to visit the faculty and seek first hand areas of support that GIPAA can give to the faculty, so that we can retain our pride of place in the training of pharmacists in Nigeria.
GIPAA has been very active of late, through the various sets. We decided to adopt a set model, whereby every set can pick a project of their choice in the faculty. To date, we have had some sets like the 1988 and 1991 sets, which have refurnished the two major faculty lecture theatres, another set donated a 150KVA generator to the faculty and another set has beautified the frontage of the faculty.
So, we realised it is easier for birds of a feather to flock together, meaning it is easier for each set to come together and do something for the faculty. Aside from this, there are other areas where all of us will have to collaborate as a body and not as sets, to confront the current problems facing us. We are talking of areas like making sure we have enough reagents in the laboratories.
There are five laboratories that can be refurbished at the cost of 10 million naira each, which means, we are talking about 50 million naira. If we decide to raise this amount, it shouldn’t be difficult for a faculty that has been in existence for over 50 years. We are hoping that during this reunion, issues like this will be tackled and solutions will be proffered.
We are also aware that the faculty is getting ready to start the Pharm.D programme, and a lot of preparations need to be made towards this. We need the clinical simulation laboratory, which will cost about 16 million naira. There is also the need to recruit more staff in this area so that, we won’t just start and stop, as we have less than two years to accomplish this.
We believe that coming together will make it easier for us to generate more ideas on how to tackle these problems. We know that we have the electronic media with which we communicate, we have the Whatsapp and e-mail, but it is never the same as seeing one another face to face and exchange ideas.
Again, I think the arrangement is okay, because at least almost everyone of us goes back home to our villages by December to see old friends, in the same vein, there will be lots of socials also taking place during these three days. Thus, we look forward to a lot of the alumni members attending.
Do you have any idea on how many members are likely to be in attendance?
Been the very first one, we think people should be excited to come and we believe that not everyone will stay for three days. We are expecting about three to five hundred members to attend.
What is the plan to accommodate members for the event?
There are a lot of hotels in Ife now, and we have already published the lists of available hotels through the social media. Yes, there will be enough accommodation for them, because we have the Conference Centre, to accommodate faculty alumni, and the university alumni also have a hotel accommodation.
Are there any prominent figures in Nigeria that you think would be coming?
Yes. You will realise that the Great Ife was the first to produce pharmacy students in Nigeria and many of them have matured into big men. Even from the alumni itself, we have quite a number of people that we hope to attend.
We expect eminent pharmacists like Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi; Joseph Odumodu, the former DG of SON, Dr Ifeanyi Okoye, CEO, Juhel Nigeria Ltd; Sam Nda- Isaiah, publisher, Leadership Newspapers; Jimi Agbaje; Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi, managing director, Pharmanews Ltd and many others are expected to be there. Many of them that are now owners of big businesses as well as those that are not even practicing pharmacy will surely be present.
They were present during the 50th anniversary and we are expecting to see them again. The reunion lecture would be given by Prof. Fola Tayo, as the Managing Director of May and Baker, Nnamdi Okafor, and Managing Director of Drugfield, Pharm. Olakunle Ekundayo, would be delivering lectures during the sessions of the programme.
Are there no alumni that are capable of delivering the lectures?
There are so many alumni members that are more than capable to give the lectures, but we want to learn from others and see others’ performance.