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RIGHTSView, By EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO: South-East markets and stereotype of fake drugs, products

By News Express on 09/04/2016

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When a person described as an ‘academic expert’ speaks, the audience expect nothing short of affirmations and assertions that are flooded or loaded with evidence-based and scientifically-verifiable conclusions built from the viable premise  of sound logic and highly-regarded reasoning.

Academicians, as some would call them, must not write or speak like the road-side akara seller, who speaks from the spur of the moment, or guided wholly by impulse and lack of deep meditation.  

So when on Monday March 21, 2016, I picked up copies of newspapers and read some sensational claims by a university lecturer, Prof Justitia Nnabuko, that the South-east is flooded with fake pharmaceutical products and substandard goods, I expected to read a piece that was  embedded with unassailable logic devoid of fallacious affirmations and lazy road-side stereotypes.

I must say that utter disappointment flooded my subconscious, when it emerged that this professor was economical with facts and figures. Above all, the lecturer did not draw up a comparison between what products are sold in the South-East when juxtaposed with the ones sold elsewhere. Unless and except the news reporter from New Telegraph,  who claimed to have reproduced her lecture, muddled up the facts and published a version that does not represent her thoughts totally,  then she might be pardoned. But from the text of that report, there are clear signs that what the newspaper reported is the summary of that inaugural lecture. Therefore, it is safe to evaluate that lecture from the perspective the New Telegraph captured the event, since the reporter remains an eye witness. The newspaper quoted the university teacher, who is said to be the Dean, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) with this highly-explosive but vexatious claims of existence of large consignments of fake products in the South-East, while delivering the 104th inaugural lecture of the university.

Nnabuko regretted that despite committed efforts of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and other regulatory agencies, some desperate businessmen were still flooding the country with sub-standard products. According to her, “NAFDAC is rated as one of the top 18 medical regulatory agencies in the world and the fourth in the African continent.

“However, monitoring of pharmaceutical activities has not yielded the much desired transparency in the activities of drug firms as drug products registrations have not been effectively achieved in the South-East zone of Nigeria. Many pharmaceutical facilities and drug products were yet to receive authentic registrations. The lives of the regulators had been threatened in the course of carrying out monitoring operations.”

She also lamented that there were so many quacks in the marketing profession who, she said, aid fake drug dealers to market fake drugs to the unsuspecting members of public.

“Given that lots of quackery takes place in business, there are ethical standards, which marketers are expected to apply, but many people pushing products and services are not professional marketers and many organisations use them.”

After a meticulous perusal of this jaundiced conclusion, I said in my mind:  ‘here they go again with deliberate demonisation of a region of the country with deliberate falsehoods and jaundiced/warped ideas that primarily de-markets the South-East zone and helps in perpetuating the lack of proper industrialisation in the South-East of Nigeria.’  This professor has insulted the intelligence of right-thinking persons who are committed to the gospel of scientific truth. The lecture is littered with intellectual potholes and factual inaccuracies, because of some inherent contradictions and illogicalities therein. Why single out South-East, when it is a fact that Nigeria is a country governed by common law; and that the South-East is not that lawless section of this federation for a researcher to draw a conclusion that national regulatory frameworks and legal mechanisms to check the circulation of fake and substandard products have failed to work only in that region of Nigeria. How come the North-East of Nigeria that is in turmoil does not have fake products, but the South East of Nigeria with the largest concentration of armed law enforcement agents is now the place with the highest quantities of fake products in circulation in the open markets? This professor needs to return to the classroom to learn few more steps on how to conduct evidence-based research.

The question to be asked is: How come the lecturer made no effort to understudy what products of similar attributes or ingredients that are obtainable in other parts of Nigeria before settling for a better and balanced viewpoint? At one hand, the lecturer praised the regulatory agencies for doing good jobs in the area of sanitising the markets from being saturated with adulterated pharmaceuticals. But, on another breath, the lecturer claimed regulatory failure exclusively in the South-East of Nigeria.  "Nothing can be and not be at the same time.” So, if NAFDAC is so highly-rated, why is it difficult for this same agency to effectively police the quality of products in circulation in only one part of Nigeria?  It's either that regulators such as Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control are in league, or conspiratorial friendship, with producers of fake products to make sure that the South-east markets are saturated with these products. This lecturer forgot that articles of trade sold in the South-east aren't bought or made in the South-East only.

Again, who told this teacher that the South-East is the only place flooded with substandard products, when most of us here in Abuja are lamenting that substandard products have flooded the place. This teacher is, indeed, talking nonsense. And as Fela, the iconic musician, sang a long time ago: “Teacher don’t teach me nonsense.”

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via doziebiko@yahoo.com

Source News Express

Posted 09/04/2016 7:20:24 PM

 

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