Posted by News Express | 7 October 2012 | 4,349 times
For some time now, Dr. Paul Orhii, Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has been saturating the media with vainglorious praise about his ostensibly matchless performance in office.
At every given opportunity he tries to give the impression that he has exceeded the track record of his celebrated predecessor, Prof. Dora Akunyili. The reality on ground is, of course, different, despite the claims of Orhii, who even buys newspaper space to advertise himself.
While Akunyili has wisely ignored Orhii, disenchanted Nigerians are beginning to voice out their frustrations about the resurgence of fake drugs in the market while NAFDAC has apparently gone to sleep.
Among such Nigerians is legendary columnist Bisi Lawrence, a distinguished former newspaper Editor. Below is what Bisi Lawrence had to say in a piece entitled “The waning glories of NAFDAC” published in his column In The Passing Scene in the SATURDAY VANGUARD of yesterday, October 6, 2012, and illustrated with Akunyili’s photograph:
NAFDAC once dazzled our eyes by its operations .. Its charismatic Director, Dr. Dora Akunyili, captured the affection of many Nigerians, though there were some who were very eager to see her off the scene.
What made her so popular was ironically none other than what those other people found so detestable in her.
As the official in charge of the protection of the people’s health through the prohibition of fake and dangerous drugs, she pursued her mission with admirable zeal and courage, in a transparent and forthright manner.
Products had to obtain the NAFDAC’s seal of approval to find a shelf in the open market. She also took the fight to the den of the importers of fake drugs, smashing several crooked establishments and burning their vile produce.
It was not an uncommon practice for these dealers in dangerous drugs to import them by personally traveling overseas to order these lethal items. They would then fly back to Nigeria to see the items through the ports to the warehouses.
But Dora’s operatives waylaid them at the ports, scaring them away and setting their harmful goods on fire in public. Some items escaped, of course, but only to find themselves pursued to the warehouses where they too ended up in ashes.
Ironically again, most of the perpetrators of this crime came from the same section of the country with the “Iron Lady”, as she soon became known. That fact however did not help the criminals.
They tried the usual dirty “honey” way, without any result. Dora would not play ball. They even resorted to the way of the “final solution”, but she survived their plots of murder to even take them to court.
Perhaps the results from the courts were not as rousing as one would have expected, but she was not fazed even by the threats to her life. She carried on with the good work and the result was great in its impact on the quality of the supply of medicines and drugs throughout the country.
Looking ahead, she then went to contest for the senatorial seat in Anambra State, and there came the backsliding fortunes of safe medicine everywhere.
The change at the helm was accomplished with the usual hoopla that can be produced by those who are professionals at it, and there was the normal eager expectation.
Nothing happened suddenly; in fact, everything appeared to be going at the usual pace. The news of prohibited and unapproved medicines had subsided before Dr, Akunyili withdrew, and nothing occurred to bring it up noticeably again.
But silently, surreptitiously, all sorts of queer medicinal products began to be imported into the country. Vigilance was visibly relaxed, especially at the ports where we only really import, rather than also export products anyway.
The legitimate importers seemed gradually overshadowed and aIl sorts of illicit operations became stronger. On the home front too, new medical products were being manufactured freely.
The main sources of these illegal products are in the Asian countries, mostly around China and India. But almost every country gets to play a part since the Nigerian entrepreneurs are the motivators. They go out and encourage the manufactures of the counterfeit drugs for which they pay very little and sell at a huge profit, not caring about the health of their hapless customers.
It is said that they seem to quote false NAFDAC registration numbers some time ago, but they seldom bother about such subterfuge any longer.
They just put the articles out, stark and plain, just like that without any inhibitions. The rest is left to the man who believes he has bought a malaria remedy and winds up with a massive sore throat, or something more serious, or much worse.
Malaria just came to mind as a very common malady. In fact, the claims of some of these devilish drugs boggle the mind. Some are supposed to cure diseases that are declared incurable, like.
AIDS, for instance. But there is a twist to the situation because, surprisingly enough, a few of these preparations actually do carry a NAFDAC registration number. How safe are we now? Dora, where are you?
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