The deputy governor of Imo State, Prof Placid Njoku, and the managing director of May and Baker Plc, Mr. Patrick Ajah, among others have said Nigeria needs to take an urgent step and reposition the manufacturing sector through the provision of favourable government policies and an enabling environment.
They said the manufacturing sector plays a crucial role to grow and develop any economy to become prosperous and Nigeria cannot be exempted.
These thoughts and perceptions were disclosed at the fifth anniversary of St. Racheal’s Pharmaceutical company and the formal launch of its new antibiotic brand, Azithromycin 500mg, in Lagos, on Wednesday with the Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun and the Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana, Mrs. Olatomiwa Williams, among others in attendance.
Speaking on the theme of the event, “Manufacturing Renaissance: A must for prosperity of Nigeria,” the deputy governor said Nigeria is not only blessed with huge population and resources that if well-utilised, would certainly translate to abundant wealth and prosperity for the country and its people but sad that the country instead, relies heavily on importation of products for local consumption not only in the pharmaceutical subsector but also in other sectors of the economy.
He said such development if not reversed, would continue to slow down Nigeria progress and put it far behind prosperous nations of the world.
According to him, about 70 per cent of medical and pharmaceutical needs by over 200 million Nigerians are being imported from other countries such as Germany, India, USA, China, Netherland and even Pakistan and so forth, and this leaves only about 30 percent being produced locally.
Giving example, he said Nigeria spends more than N200 billion to import malaria drugs and about N600 billion on antibiotics alone yearly, noting that such huge resources is tantamount to Nigeria funding other economies at its own expense.
He said there are many herbs all over the country for example with potential to effectively cure many diseases and generate huge incomes internally if research is carried out on them and developed into drugs but that they are wasting away for one reason or the other.
“So, we must change the narrative as we cannot continue to afford being dependent on other countries for our pharmaceutical needs.
“There is need to start something significant internally as we have a fertile environment for drug manufacturing companies and the journey must begin now,” he posited.
While commending St. Racheal’s Pharma for its contributions to Nigeria’s Pharmaceutical industry, particularly in terms of employment generation for the teeming youths, he asked the government , particularly at the federal level on their part, to create a better environment that would encourage more investors in the pharmaceutical industry.
On his part, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, a pharmacist cum politician, said the government would equally need to make the right policies and provide necessary support to drive Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry appreciably.
According to him, the industry records slow progress simply because many manufacturers find it difficult to break even let alone make profit due to unfavourable climate.
He said he, for example, had wanted to be a manufacturer of drugs locally and that he had started the process but he could not cope after a few years due to huge operational costs, especially on power supply and unfriendly government policies.
He noted further that for a whole one year, we didn’t have power supply from the national grid and that was after we had bought our own transformer and all that somewhere in Ogun State and we just had to shut down because we were not making profit.
He said there are so many Nigerian manufacturers with big dreams and potentials to do well but need support and an enabling environment to do so.
In his own presentation, the keynote speaker, Mr. Patrick Ajah, who is the managing director of May and Baker Plc, added that the high interest rates on loans, poor government regulations, extortions by government agencies and poor infrastructural facilities are other major obstacles hindering meaningful industrial growth and development in the country.
He said the huge resources being spent on vaccine importation alone for example, would be enough to produce vaccines locally, urging the government to engage in collaboration with the private sector and also make electricity supply, interest rates on loans and infrastructural facilities, among others friendly to local manufacturers.
He said such would boost youth employment and revenue generation for the government and also reduce crimes and criminalities in the country.
Welcoming participants earlier, the convener of the forum and chairman of St. Racheal’s Pharma, Mr. Akinjide Adeosun, said the essence of the discussion is to provide workable solution that would help to move the country’s economy forward appreciably.
He said St. Racheal’s Pharma is not interested in making money alone, but also in impacting lives in the community where it operates.
According to him, it is only healthy people that can translate to a healthy and prosperous country and that is why St. Racheal’s Pharma will continue to create jobs for many Nigerians and retain its earnings in the economy for further expansion and humanity services.
He, however, urged both the federal and various state governments not only to make primary healthcare and basic education free and compulsory for the citizenry, but also to make them functional and effective, saying every Nigerian irrespective of social status deserves to live quality life.
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