The response of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in Daily Trust on August 15, 2019 to an article authored by a PhD student from Milan, published in the same newspaper of August 9, 2019, was a great opportunity to put to rest, some issues that had been protracted. It confirmed to all and sundry that they are guilty of what Pharm Khalid raised because they could not dispute it with any cogent reason. The fact still remains that the PSN has been selectively confrontational with the government on issues of appointments that favour some sections of the country and there is no need to be politically correct when you are stating a fact.
I had the privilege of serving the PSN as a national financial secretary and member of its National Council for a consecutive seven-year period, as well as chairman of its Kano State branch, and currently part of a select group saddled with organising its annual conference holding in Kaduna in November.
In the PSN rejoinder, the most potent allegation was that Prof. Ahmed Tijjani Mora was suspended, stripped of his fellowship of the society and permanently placed on roll of dishonour by the Council and the AGM; and most importantly, the Federal High Court in Lagos had ruled in favour of the purported suspension, de-fellowing and placement on a roll of dishonour. This is the most important and critical allegation. It is a life wire that must take life if given life. If this is found to be true, the PSN has a good case; if it is false, then all their other allegations suffer integrity deficits.
After a slow and painstaking investigation, including robust fact checking, I was able to find out that there was a superior ruling by the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, dated February 10, 2012 in case No. CA/L/144/2011, published in All Federation Weekly Law Report that nullified all the claims the PSN earlier got by Justice Charles Efanga Archibong of the Federal High Court in Lagos in case no. FHC/L/CS/284/2010, the ruling the PSN rather generously depends on.
The judgement was read by Justice Rita Pemu while Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs presided. The appellate court ruled that the earlier judgement delivered in favour of the PSN was in direct conflict with Section 36 of the constitution on the right to fair hearing, as Prof Mora, Pharm Uche Madumere who at a point singlehandedly gave the Plateau State PSN a secretariat, and Pharm H. Isandylidighi only got to know of the PSN “punitive” actions on them on the pages of newspapers.
The purported reason for the disciplinary action on Prof. Mora was “glaring acts calculated to embarrass, ridicule and discomfit the PSN” and professional misconduct. The court ruled that the PSN had no jurisdiction over the matter, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) where Prof. Mora was the registrar and chief executive officer.
Justice Rita noted that the most important reason for voiding the decision to de-fellow and delist Prof. Mora was that the ruling the PSN keeps mentioning, rather generously, was neither delivered in court nor at the judge’s chambers, but at the judge’s secretary’s office,” a violation of the constitution, the grand norm of the Nigerian legal system, which is binding on all persons, courts and authorities in Nigeria vitiated the ruling.” What is intriguing is that the PSN was represented at the ruling by Jude Ezeamaechi while Prof. Mora was represented by Daniel Josiah. Both parties must have briefed their principals, yet the PSN keeps citing victory at the lower court, a victory one of the judges said, “does not exist in law and is null, void and of no effect.”
If you are defeated in a higher court but keep citing the verdict of a lower court, including to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, then you can do anything.
Their response was a display of arrogance, fallacies and rhetoric. They are arrogantly insisting that they know better than the president and commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and they are the ones to recommend, not the minister as provided by the law.
Is the president under any obligation to appoint the persons the PSN recommended? In any case, it cannot even be proven that they made the recommendation at the time they made the claim because they could have cited reference. And it was reliably gathered that the minister was not aware of their recommendations, which initially, they said was only one, from Kaduna State, but changed it to two in their response. It was just a calculated attempt to pitch particular sections of professionals against themselves. A new dimension they now introduced is questioning the competence of those responsible for screening candidates before they are appointed.
They were also rhetorical when they stated in their response: “It was convenient for Khalid to talk about those appointed chairmen of the PCN in the last 22 years, while failing to list the names of those who served as registrars.”
Was it not in the same article that Pharm. Khalid stated that for a continuous period of 66 years, both the registrars and chairmen were all from a particular section of the country? That the PSN is being managed by a cabal is obvious, from their response. Instead of mentioning the massive support given to the president and appointing Prof. Mora by the 37 directors of Pharmaceutical Services of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and the National Council members of the PSN at the last council meeting held on July 27, 2019 at Kaduna, they were making reference to past presidents’ endorsement of Prof. Mora’s rejection. The past presidents of the PSN are interested parties, they want to systematically curtail the authority of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as provided by the laws of Nigeria on appointment of the PCN chairman, and narrow it only to the recommendations of the past presidents of the PSN, whose mode of election is anything but credible.
They are currently desperately pushing for the signing of the Pharmacy Act. It is obvious that the leadership of the PSN blocked the inauguration of Prof. Mora as the PCN chairman of the Governing Council, just to pursue the president to sign a bill that will reduce the number of the members of the Governing Council of the PCN.
Obviously, they are trying to increase their influence within the Council before the inauguration. In a nutshell, the regulatory responsibility of the Federal Government would allegedly be mortgaged in the hands of a non-governmental organisation. And it will bring nothing but chaos, victimisation, syndicating and continuation of the cabal that has taken charge of a vital sector of the health industry, such that pharmaceutical products will be in the hands of ‘few’ persons, thereby endangering the entire health security of the nation through the monopoly of production of drugs (fake and genuine), distribution of same, as well as the preponderance of drugs of addiction in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, especially in most parts of the North.
The 37 directors of Pharmaceutical Services in the Ministry of Health in the 36 states and the FCT had written to the minister of health, fully supporting the appointment of Prof Ahmed Tijjani Mora as the chairman of the PCN by President Muhammadu Buhari following the recommendation of the minister in line with the relevant sections of the laws of Nigeria.
I challenge the PSN to bring a pharmacist who is more competent based on merit than Prof Ahmed Mora for the chairmanship of the PCN. It is rather curious that the PSN would find it convenient to question the academic, professional and career status of Professor Mora, 16 years after he was appointed the registrar of the PCN through the interview process.
Having achieved the status as the first Professor of Pharmacy Practice in Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, and having lectured in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for 33 years, with 41 years of post registration experience as a pharmacist, among other very important positions, the PSN has suddenly ‘discovered’ that he is not fit to be the chairman of the PCN, a responsibility they have no say whatsoever as far as law is concerned.
That the PSN is using shady and nebulous terms like “sacked” or “forced out” is very callous. Prof. Mora was not forced out as registrar of the PCN as his two terms of four years elapsed.
The mentioning of the North-South divide in Pharm Khalid’s write-up was not meant to whip up sentiment, but to remind us of the reality of the political perspectives, including professional associations in Nigeria presently, and which the leadership of the PSN had persistently avoided any discussion on, but rather uses it at its convenience. How else could one explain that for the period between 2006 to date, translating to 13 years, that the four out of the five presidents of the Society, including the incumbent, are Lagos-based pharmacists, except those from 2015 to 2018, when one other person outside of Lagos was ‘elected’ as president. As a matter of fact, for 9 years continuously, all the three PSN presidents from 2006 to 2015 were Lagos-based and ‘elected’ back-to-back. This is not what obtains in other professional associations. For instance, in the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA); Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE); Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), presidential positions rotate from North to South or from one geopolitical zone to another, but not in the PSN.
Umar, a pharmacist, is of the Drugs Manufacturing Unit, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano