In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Pharm. Sesan Kareem, prolific author and personal assistant to the PSN President, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, speaks on several pertinent issues in pharmacy education and practice – especially as it relates to young pharmacists in Nigeria. He also expresses his delight as PA to the PSN president. Excerpts:
What prompted your decision to study Pharmacy?
I have a rich background in natural medicine. My great grandma and my mum were vast in using herbs, leaves, vegetables and other natural medicines to help people live healthy. I saw an opportunity in pharmacy profession to leverage my lineage’s rich experience to provide efficacious and safe natural remedies for various ailments. That was why I decided to study Pharmacy.
Pharmacy has always been my dream course and I’m very proud to be a pharmacist, although, my parents – especially my mum – wanted me to study Medicine, because one of my distant uncles, Dr Sunny Kuku is a very successful doctor. He is one of the owners of the EKO Hospital. The truth of the matter is if I were to go back to university again as an undergraduate I would still have studied Pharmacy.
What has been your experience since you graduated from pharmacy school?
My experience since I graduated from pharmacy school has been diverse and rich. I worked for three years in community practice – JMK pharmaceutical limited, Magodo, as a locum pharmacist. I had my internship at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). I served as a youth corps member in Imo State. Presently, I’m in administrative practice, working for the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) as personal assistant to the President of PSN, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai.
I’m also an entrepreneur, author, trainer and youth advocate. I registered my company, Mareek Image Concepts (MIC) with the Corporate Affairs Commission in July, 2013. Our focus includes publishing, training and coaching. I’ve authored some books. I’m a wellness and healthy living facilitator for the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), an expert freelance trainer of the London Professional Training Centre (LPTC), as well being the convener, Motivating the Nigerian Youth, a movement that has trained over 3,000 young Nigerians on leadership and self-development for free.
What is your motivation for book writing as a pharmacist?
What really motivates me as a person is to help people grow, learn, develop and become better. I’ve authored and published five books – “Maximise Your life”, “Grab Your Destiny”, “Life Is Short, But It’s Really Worth It”, “With Patience You Are A Winner”, and “The Secrets Of A Fulfilled Life.”
I’ve just finished the writing processes of my sixth book – and my first health book – “The Secrets of a Great Health”. My third book, “Life Is Short, But It’s Really Worth It” was published by United PC., United Kingdom, and the book is available across the world. Others were published here in Nigeria. My purpose is to equip and educate people to discover, develop and deploy their inherent greatness in order to achieve their full potentials and make a difference. My values are service, sincerity, simplicity, ingenuity, constant growth, continuing development and team work. I hold on to the philosophy that man should beware of what lies before him, and what lies behind him, but, above all, he should beware of what lies with him.
You were appointed personal assistant to the PSN President, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, last year; how would you describe your experience so far working with him?
Honestly, it is a great honour to be appointed by my mentor, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, as his personal assistant. Pharm. Yakasai is an astute leader, a business tycoon, a man of the people with vast experience and incredible achievements; but above all, he is a perfect gentleman.
You know it takes only great leaders to attract emerging leaders (smile). I was informed by another mentor of mine, Pharm. Ifeanyi Atueyi, that I would be the first pharmacist to be appointed as personal assistant to the PSN president in the 89 long years history of the Society. That shows you that Pharm. Yakasai is a trailblazer.
My experience so far working with him has been exciting and challenging. I have learnt a lot and I am learning immensely from him. His managerial and leadership skills, boardroom presence and administrative prowess have helped me to become a better leader, manager, administrator and thinker. I also believe I will continue to contribute my own quota to make sure the vision of Pharm. Yakasai of taking PSN to the next level is sustained.
Furthermore, I believe with every fibre of my being that by the time Pharm. Yakasai will end his administration as President of the PSN, I would have become better in all ramifications..
What would you say are the challenges facing young pharmacists in Nigeria and how can these challenges be surmounted?
The number one challenge facing many young pharmacists in Nigeria is internship placement. Last year, I wrote a series of articles in Pharmanews on this and I proffered solutions. Let me paraphrase briefly some of my recommendations. One, exponential increase in the number of centres of internship placements; two, geometrical increase in the number of interns employed by tertiary and secondary health institutions; three, careful planning by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) on the population of young pharmacists expected to graduate each year with corresponding internship placements/opportunities, using the Law School as a model; and four, willingness of newly inducted pharmacy graduates to go outside their comfort zone for internship experience, stop putting money first when looking for placement and start as soon as they see any opportunity. My other recommendations can be read online.
The second challenge is the issue of “register and go” syndrome and the only solution to that is to encourage “register and stay” among pharmacists.
Thirdly, I believe as young pharmacists, we should put our resources, talents and expertise together. It is high time we started thinking of collaboration and partnership in order to achieve something substantial and tangible in the pharmaceutical sector – just as Fola Adeola, Femi Pedro and others did in the banking sector in the late ‘80s with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).
As a trained pharmacist, what is your preferred area of practice and why?
I’m currently practising as a pharmacist (smiles). However, going forward, my long-term goal is manufacturing of natural remedies of world class standard for local consumption and export across the globe. The reason is that the world is going green and the best cure to major ailments is in nature.
Natural remedies are safe and efficacious with fewer side-effects. Large scale manufacturing is also a very rewarding business, though it requires a lot of investment. In the medium term, I will look at importation of natural supplements and exportation of natural pharmaceutical active ingredients and excipients. In the short term, a world class community pharmacy.
However, I will still continue to write books, teach, train and inspire people because that connects me to the core of my existence.