Being text of book review delivered by Pharm. Ahmed I Yakasai, FPSN, FNIM, FNAPharm, FPCPharm immediate Past President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), and Founder/Chairman, Safe Medicines Foundation on the occasion of the 25th anniversary celebration of NAFDAC, held on March 26 and 28 in Abuja and Lagos respectively.
It gives me great pleasure and honour to stand in front of you today to review this unique book, “NAFDAC AT 25: Historical and regulatory antecedents. “ that chronicles the journey of NAFDAC since inception 2 and half decades ago which was designed and printed by Pacific Printing Press, Abuja, first published in 2019 with ISBN: 987-887-942-034-9
The book titled “NAFDAC at 25: Historical and Regulatory Antecedents” chronicles the journey of NAFDAC since its emergence 25 years ago, its achievements, growth, learning curves, trials, challenges and prospects. It is a celebrative chronicle of the effective regulations of the food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals, and packaged water in Nigeria.
The book covers 9,125 days of NAFDAC’s selfless and unwavering service in the food and drug regulation and control, detailing some of its important events and activities, the significant milestones, challenges and future aspirations.
The decision of President Ibrahim Babangida’s administration to create NAFDAC was informed by the desire to ensure a more effective control of food, drugs and other regulated products. While inaugurating the Governing Council of NAFDAC in December, 1992, the Late Minister of Health, Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti succinctly defined the primary functions of the Agency thus “NAFDAC as an agency is being inaugurated today, to give a frontal attack to the health problems arising from foods, chemicals, drugs, and similar regulated products without the inhibition of the civil service setting”.
It is the duty of government at all levels to protect the health of its citizens. The challenge in this regard, apart from that of providing treatment facilities for the sick, is to prevent the hazards arising from unwholesome foods, substandard and adulterated drugs, toxic and corrosive cosmetics and chemicals as well as contaminated water. It is pertinent to mention that until 31st December, 1992, that responsibility rested squarely on the Department of Food and Drugs Administration and Control of the Federal Ministry of Health. The birth of the National Agency for Food and Drug, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as a parastatal of the Ministry was necessitated by the need to overcome a number of difficulties which had militated against the attainment of the goals under the former Food and Drug Services department in the Ministry.
The book consists of six chapters with a foreword written by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, Federal Republic of Nigeria while Preface done by my good friend Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole, FAS, Honourable Minister of Health and indeed brief historical background presented by the Incumbent Chairman of the NAFDAC Governing Council, Honourable Inuwa Abdulkadir.
Chapter one covers the pioneering efforts of the Pioneer Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Gabriel E. Osuide and former Minister of Health, Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti in establishing the Agency.
This Chapter also reflects on the problems that confronted the agency during the tenure of Professor Osuide as the pioneer Director-General, and the regulatory battles fought then. Like closure of the big multinational companies in December 1993, confiscation of 28 lorry load of fake drugs imported by a Chinese Pharmaceutical company in Lagos and the encounter with a powerful mono sodium glutamate (white Maggi) company.
The Agency learnt a hard lesson to the effect that being born was no guarantee of survival. There were some organizations birthed alongside the agency that were not that lucky, dying a slow natural death. It took excellent midwifery skills, combined with political adroitness of Prof. Osuide and his team to ensure survival of the newly formed Agency.”
Professor Gabriel Ediale Osuide is a brilliant and unassuming leader and my teacher in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1980 who laid a Solid Foundation for NAFDAC which has stood the test of time. His selfless service, dedication to duty, transparency, hard work, leadership style, sterling qualities and legacies has been attested to by staff and stakeholders.
Chapter Two of the book is on the sacking of the interim management committee which ushered in a new Director-General, Professor (then Dr. Dora Akunyili), who waged a ferocious war against drug fakers, internationalised the campaign against drug faking through sustained and massive public enlightenment campaigns. Akunyili’s tenure was characterized by monumental achievements in terms of infrastructural development, staff training and discipline. She introduced the Overseas Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) that radically transformed the fortunes of NAFDAC; jump-start the regulatory and enforcement activities. The assassination attempt on her life and series of attacks on NAFDAC properties hallmarked the golden era of Akunyili’s revolution at NAFDAC.
Chapter Three covers the emergence of Dr Paul Orhii after the departure of Akunyili who was appointed Minister of Information and Communication in the Yar’Adua government. Dr. Orhii a Russian trained Physician, biomedical scientist and licensed Attorney and Counsellor at Law in USA assumed duty at a time the food and drug regulatory agency had carved a name for itself in the country. During his tenure NAFDAC experienced a great leap forward in terms of massive infrastructural development, the introduction of cutting-edge technologies, intensive local and international collaborations, sustained arrest and trial of drug barons, attempt at reviewing the law to give bite to the mild punishment for counterfeiters in existence then, among other remarkable strides he took.
Dr. Orhii’s exit in February 2016 paved the way for the ascension of Mrs. Yetunde Oni as the Acting Director General of NAFDAC. Mrs. Oni was hitherto the Director of Administration and Human Resources. Her tenure witnessed a pragmatic and conscious effort to consolidate successes recorded during Orhii’s tenure, bridging the existing administrative and regulatory gaps, instilling discipline and strengthening the efforts of the laboratory services directorate to attain international accreditation. She retired in September 2017 and the most senior Director, Mr. Ademola Magbojuri took over the mantle of leadership as Acting Director General. Mr. Magbojuri’s tenure was short-lived with the appointment of Prof. Moji Christianah Adeyeye and subsequent assumption as substantive Director General of NAFDAC on 30th November, 2017.
In Chapter Four, the tenure of Professor Moji Christianah Adeyeye, the current Director General of NAFDAC, an Emeritus Professor of Pharmaceutics and Drug Products Evaluation is the subject of attention. She was Professor of Pharmaceutics and Manufacturing for over 2 decades at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, P.A USA. Prof. Adeyeye’s impeccable and intimidating curriculum vitae speaks volume about her visionary, dedicated, dogged and result-oriented leadership since her assumption of office. Administrative restructuring, entrenchment of Quality Management System, International best practices, attainment of Global Bench marking, staff training, discipline and promotion, ethical re-orientation and fiscal discipline, retooling and upgrading the Laboratories, rebuilding and redesigning of the website, decentralisation of registration processes and stakeholders’ engagement hallmarked her nascent administration as Director-General of NAFDAC.
Chapter Five, talks about collaboration, both locally and internationally. This depicts in a brief and clearly expressed manner the various support and assistance rendered to NAFDAC by Sister Agencies like Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN)/SON, Security Agencies, Donor Agencies and International Development Partners. This has resulted in the current enviable mark in the achievement of the Agency’s mandate.
Chapter six wraps up the book. It focuses on the threats, intimidation and hazards encountered by NAFDAC’s regulatory officers in the course of doing their work. The chapter recounts the ordeals and tribulations of regulatory officers who experienced dangers and threat to their lives on routine inspection and enforcement activities on a daily basis. The threat climaxed with the attempted assassination of Late Professor Dora Akunyili.
Let me use this medium to appreciate the contributors to the book NAFDAC at 25 for giving a treasure to guide the system in the journey for the next 25 years. To navigate the future we must understand our past. I also salute the initiators and prime movers of this book, and the management staff of NAFDAC under the watch of Professor Moji Christianah Adeyeye under whose tenure this beautiful work is published.
The success of the last 25 years were possible because of the determination, commitment and sacrifices of the past leadership of NAFDAC, we can fast track the success story of this institution by imbibing the character and characteristics of our founding fathers, the belief that all things are possible for those who do the right things and doesn’t give up in the midst of challenges and uncertainties that are inherent in delivering the mandate of NAFDAC.