Move Back To Nigeria: The Patriotic Pharmacist Says “I’m Very Optimistic About Moving Back to Nigeria”

Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2013 at 10:00 AM

By Titi Adanne Owoyemi

Move Back to Nigeria is a new series on BellaNaija. The aim is to encourage young and not-so-young professionals in the diaspora who are trying to make the decision of whether to move back to Nigeria. In collaboration with the brilliant team at MoveBackToNigeria.com, we hope to bring you a weekly interview with individuals who have successfully made the leap. The idea is to share their successes and their challenges as they made the decision.

A lot of Nigerians in the diaspora have questions about making a change at home in Nigeria. Many suggest really good ideas on how to make things better; others would like to contribute to making a difference back home but are just not sure where to begin.

This week, we excitedly bring you a feature on a young Nigerian pharmacist (he  has chosen to remain anonymous) who is moving back to Nigeria to pursue his dreams in the health sector and beyond. Read on, to hear him talk about his career so far, his hopes and plans for his pharmaceutical practice and his take on the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria. We hope you enjoy reading his story.

Thanks for agreeing to speak to us. Could you kindly tell us who you are?
I’m a young Nigerian pharmacist, living and working in London, England and looking to move back to Nigeria in the next few months. My interests range from sports to music and everything in between.

When did you leave Nigeria and why?
I left Nigeria for the UK in 2001 for educational reasons.

Can you shed some light on these educational reasons?
Sure. I left Nigeria after secondary school to do my A Levels in the UK and subsequently attend university there as well.  I studied pharmacy at Cardiff University and graduated with a Masters in Pharmacy.

Did you always know you wanted to be a pharmacist?
Not necessarily. Whilst I was proficient in science subjects, I was not always sure of what science I wanted to practice. My dad then decided on pharmacy and I’m happy to say it’s turned out to be a worthy decision.

That’s certainly fortunate. So how did your career in pharmacy begin?
Well, it’s a seemingly convoluted path so do bear with me as I narrate. In the UK, after studying pharmacy, there’s a 1 year mandatory ‘pre-registration’ program (similar to the housemanship in medicine) which involves 1 year of working, shadowing a pharmacist and a very challenging professional exam afterwards. I undertook mine at Tesco Pharmacy, thankfully passed the exams and then registered as a pharmacist in the UK. I then went back to Cardiff University for another Masters degree, this time in Strategic Marketing as I felt that my business skills were lacking and I needed to remedy that. This I did for long term reasons because, I knew I would one day be going back to Nigeria to set up a pharmacy and I wanted to have the entrepreneurial skills necessary to market my drugs. After this degree, I got a job at Superdrug which lasted only briefly as the visa rules got changed and so I had to prematurely leave the UK for Nigeria.

Although I was somewhat disillusioned at the prospect, I decided to use the opportunity to undertake the NYSC program. However, when I got home, I realised that I was misinformed about the NYSC procedure, particularly as it applies to graduates of medicine and pharmacy. You have to register as a pharmacist and then take a 6week course which is rotated nationwide and runs once annually, before being eligible for NYSC. I had unfortunately arrived months before the course and did not relish the prospect of waiting idly which led me to decide to come back to the UK for a third Masters degree, this time in Global Affairs at the University of Buckingham. I did this alongside a part-time pharmacist job in Boots and I stayed with them, even after the completion of my course while planning another move back to Nigeria; this time much more thought out and researched. After Boots, a better opportunity presented itself at Sainsbury’s Pharmacy and I took it and that’s where I currently work as the pharmacy manager.

You’ve mentioned a few times, your unwavering intent to return to Nigeria. Why this mindset?
Moving back to Nigeria should be a decision based on personal circumstances. After all is said and done and despite the very well documented infrastructural and societal challenges in Nigeria, there’s still nowhere like home. I have a very good job in the UK and live a comfortable life but I feel that going home now is the right thing to do, for me.  I would like to be closer to my family, most of whom reside there and I would also like to set up my pharmacy practice in Nigeria, God willing. It is where I want to be and where I am happiest.

Whilst I’m there, the intent is to get some hands on work experience, register my company and prepare for NYSC. Another reason is that there is a huge influx of pharmacists into the UK and so the money is not even what it used to be. The sector here is also getting very saturated for instance, because of EU laws, pharmacists from eastern Europe can come to the UK, shadow a pharmacist for a month and then get their license irrespective of whatever sort of training (or not) they may received in their home countries.

That’s understandable. You have discussed setting up your Pharmacy in Nigeria, can you go into some detail and tell us what this would entail?
My background in pharmacy and business has prepared me for this and it is something I want to do for a myriad of reasons. Operating a small, retail pharmacy is a profitable venture, it is also one that by its very nature will meet a very basic human need as I plan to site it close to schools, hospitals and potentially also specialise in certain medication(s), be a distributor, supplying private and public establishments and much more. I’m very optimistic about moving back and while I am very aware that things don’t always turn out as planned, particularly in the uncertain Nigerian terrain, I’m just hoping for the best.

This naturally leads us to the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria and bodies like PCN & NAFDAC. What are your thoughts regarding these regulatory bodies?
The pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria is definitely progressing.  However, I feel we need to start manufacturing more medicines in Nigeria. The obvious infrastructural challenges certainly pose obstacles to this but it’s an area that should be better explored. We need more companies like Emzor, Orange Drugs and so on as a lot of medicines are currently imported from India and China which is not the route I would personally take if given the opportunity. There is more that can be done to increase our production especially considering we have the raw materials in abundance and a good example of this is maize starch which is a major component of most medicines.

The regulatory agencies like NAFDAC (National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control) and PCN (Pharmacists Council of Nigeria) need to be empowered and constitutionalized so as to be more effective and also to eliminate the crippling bureaucracy.  There are existing policies which go a long way towards curbing illegal practices. Many people are not aware of the existing industry rules and this is due to the fact that they are hardly enforced. One such rule is one in which if a businessman wants to set up a pharmacy, there must an in-house pharmacist who must own at least 40% of the business so as to ensure best practice. The PCN also needs to organise more public enlightenment campaigns for citizens to be aware of the laws and policies. For instance medication like Valium and Lexotan by law are prescription only in Nigeria but a lot of people flout these stipulations.

What unique opportunities exist in the industry for people who may also be considering a move back?
There are many opportunities that abound, just take the size of Nigeria into consideration. There are 36 states in Nigeria with each one presenting a unique opportunity to whoever is interested and with the wherewithal to power the interest. For instance, I know someone who lives in Delta State but chooses to travel to the neighbouring Edo State to purchase medication for her kids when the need arises. There might be pharmacies close to her but she chooses to go all the way and it may be a function of the origin of the drugs sold by the pharmacies. She may just prefer European brands such as GSK or Roche to the Asian brands which are what abound in Nigeria and so here exists an opportunity for a business venture. Also, the WHO states that the fake drugs market In Africa is worth millions of dollars and we have a lot of people coming in from neighbouring countries like Ghana and Cameroon to buy medicines in Nigeria and so this is another opportunity to come in and present an ethical and alternative change.

This is all very enlightening and you’re clearly very passionate about this cause. Where then, do you see yourself and potentially, your pharmacy in 3 to 5 years?
Hopefully in a stable and successful position.  I intend to eventually expand and open more branches of my pharmacy as well as be a key player in the sector. I have already started the legwork and so with hard work and God’s blessings, the sky is just the foundation.

That’s certainly positive. On a final note and as you’re somewhat in the transition process, what would you say to people considering a similar move?
You need to know before you go. Do not just make hasty decisions. I see a lot of people you’ve interviewed on the MoveBackToNigeria.com website who’ve successfully made the move back home are either in the finance sector or the engineering sector and that’s understandable as those sectors are currently enjoying a boom. It is not the same for the health sector and anyone who does not do sufficient research will most likely encounter problems. Doctors are not doing so well back home except those who run their own clinics.

Another point to remember is that you need to be open-minded and not compare Nigerian systems to those in the west. It’s also important to be patient and hardworking and eventually, things should pay off.

 Thank you very much for your time and best wishes moving forward.

Photo Credit: dreamstime.com
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Movebacktonigeria.com is the fastest growing online community of Nigerian professionals living, studying and working in Diaspora. Our primary objective is to connect Nigerian professionals with various opportunities in Nigeria, ranging from recruitment drives to information & support regarding relocation processes and financial & tax advice. We also feature social interest topics such as what’s on, where to live, how-to survival tips and so on. We consistently engage with and feature young Nigerian professionals in our weekly interviews and also regularly publish social interest articles relevant to the general public. We welcome everyone to our online discussions & fora and also invite you to air your views & suggestions on topical and trending matters.’ For more information and further inquiries, please contact titi.owoyemi@movebacktonigeria.com

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  • 31 Comments on “Move Back To Nigeria: The Patriotic Pharmacist Says “I’m Very Optimistic About Moving Back to Nigeria””

    Comments
    • Zero July 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      Correct guy….

    • Naija Boy July 5, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      Good to see our Health Care professionals coming back home.

    • Eve July 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      I’m a bit curious why BN did not attach some of his pics like the previous interviews. Would be nice if you ask me.

      • Lucylink July 5, 2013 at 12:45 PM

        Maybe he didn’t want his picture to be included in the article. His picture is not necessary for this story.

    • Hephzibah July 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      Mehn guy i hail you no be small thing. Welcoming you home. May God’s blessings continually be yours.

    • Bevshine July 5, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      You are Welcome back home

      bevshineevents.blogspot.com

    • Dare to be beautiful July 5, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      Nice but can we have a followup interview 3 years from now . I am sure he will be back soon by the time the Nigerian system frustrates him . Best of Luck .

    • seyi July 5, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      ol boy calm down. the one who wear their passions on their sleeves and expect so much from what is on ground are the ones that get deflated fast. Do you research properly as you strike me as someone who doesn’t know too many people in your industry. If you don’t plan to be in the corporate, regulatory or business end of the industry where you can dictate or have access to cushionable salary, then you have to think well about coming into the nigerian market without very strong experiences to back you up and leverage against those that are already on ground. As you said, it is a PERSONAL choice and at a ‘personally dictated’ time but my advice is to work on yourself, your entry and longevity strategy. Don’t be fooled by the glossy pictures and the hype in some news articles, NIGERIA IS NOT BEANS!!! (from a repartriate navigating the waters)

      • jane July 5, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        bless your soul mehn! you are spot on!

      • Tunde September 7, 2013 at 9:55 PM

        hi Seyi,

        I found your comment interesting. Could you please tell me about your experience as a repatriate to Nigeria. I would like to compare notes with you.

      • anonymous February 27, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        Very good point made. Reading the interview I can see no ground work research has been done from The point of NYSC for Pharmacist, local manufacturing and reasons behind high importation from Asia. Best advice I have for you to be successful in the Pharma industry especially in Nigeria is to put in all your effort or nothing.

    • nich July 5, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      it would always be those leaving in the uk and europe that would be returning home ………even when i was in nigeria i noticed this…….those in america never returned home.

      • BM July 6, 2013 at 2:37 AM

        Hmmm….not true hon. Perhaps that’s from your perspective. I was in the states for a bit and I made that move…so have all my siblings and quite a few of my friends have either made the move completely, are half in, half out, in the process of moving or “surveying the land”. It’s been a long, craaazzyyy road with it’s highs and lows but I’m still here :)

        Great job Mrs. O!!!!! You know who this is ;).

    • Mary July 5, 2013 at 5:31 PM

      Where are those in America and Canada ? Only UK

      inionlinenews.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Styleatl July 5, 2013 at 10:05 PM

      1. If you were a pharmacist in the US, you would not be thinking of moving to Nigeria
      2. You are not a pharmacist in diaspora, you just went to study and must return home per Visa.
      3. Young Nigerians who r citizens/green card holders of US have too good paying jobs to just think of leaving for naija.
      4. The ones in US that leave 1. Don’t have good jobs 2. Have papers issue.

      • chizy July 6, 2013 at 9:51 AM

        You r so rite,u know wats happening here. Why would a young pharmacist in d us earning abt $50 per hour move 2 naija,2 do wat? Its not like he’s gonna do something new except opening a pharmarcy ?

    • NNENNE July 6, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      Am impressed. Hope it works out for him.
      A family friend of ours, a pharmacist, tried to set up a business at home ,get it running , then return. He took a loan from the bank to actualize this. They embezzled all his money. It left him frustrated and bitter.The poor man gave up.

    • mujer casada July 6, 2013 at 3:05 AM

      I like the concept of going home. However, no novelty in his business model. He will be just one more pharmacy in Nigeria except he can tell people he has degrees from Cardiff. good news is that there are too many death merchants selling kidney killer drugs that people would be very glad to make their purchases from a pharmacy with a graduate from UK. There are other innovative things to do though but I am done offering free consulting. Sorry.

    • Tosin July 6, 2013 at 7:27 AM

      Good luck!
      Move back if you want to. It worked for BellaNaija. It’s working for me :) It’s not for everybody, but me I be bush girl mehn I no fit let cold finish me for abroad.

    • lulu July 6, 2013 at 8:20 AM

      if i hea say i leave yankee go 9ja.. 9ja is a vacation spot 4 me cnt leave there anymore.. this article sef cnt motivate me 2 cme back gave up dat green booklet (passport) a long tme every thing is unstable apart from the entertainment industry which is lukin promising at the moment but until then, gudbye nigeria even my ancestors ll understand..lol

    • lol July 6, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      @lulu and styleatl…tru talk o.some in the us that have tried regretted it and some doctors that tried had to come back asap.i tell u if the naija nurses and doctors in US all leave for naija,US don finish be that.Nigeria get complexity problem,I studied Med outside naija and went back to do housemanship just for a year,come see their headache and beefing,abeg nobody begged me before i carry my load and left. God help that country.If it were to be a white person that goes to naija,it wont even take them time to make him the MD of the hospital if possible but if it were to be a well experienced Nigerian,going back home,nothing for him or her. So whenever you plan on moving to Nigeria,think twice and consider your profession before making any drastic decision.Goodluck

    • Olu July 6, 2013 at 6:38 PM

      I can’t believe I just read an interview about a guy, whose name the interviewer completely omitted. That’s a major blunder!
      And BN interviewers need to stop passing an ‘approval phrase/statement’ at the end of the interviewee’s response to almost every question. That’s not sound journalism.

    • ch July 6, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      Did I miss sth here? What kinda article does not have the person’s name even if it’s a fake name and “not real name” is bracketed? Not good enough bella naija, after reading the 1st 2 questions, I became uninterested but had to post this comment.

    • Concerned9ja July 6, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      I tire for 9ja sef…exporting it’s best brains and getting half baked expatriates in return..having them in charge of the country’s services at the same token spitting in the face of its own Professionals at the top of their game in the Diaspora..
      It’s a disturbing re-occurring trend that 9jas back home due to their inferiority complex wouldn’t allow for a conducive playing field for Diasporans..
      What I find disturbing is them turning up their nose and say “now you want to come home abi”…its our fatherland we can come and leave whenever we like..and people forget we can ply our trade wherever we like however since 9ja is our fatherland its a natural pull…but no one is going to indulge in that bit of nepotism when they already in relative comfort..
      Most developed and developing Countries know the value of nurturing their best brains and attracting top notch foreign Professionals..but we rather crucify our own..
      My advice is with your have a blue or red passport you have your get out of jail card…so there’s nothing stopping you from exploring the option of doing something back home..personally I do intend to give it a good go and don’t entertain listening to people’s failures..we all not the same our experiences would differ…
      Just make sure you have enough cash to sustain you during the experimental period..

    • Boluwatife July 6, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      Remember to check out movebacktonigeria on facebook at facebook.com/movebacktonigeria and on twitter @movebackto9ja. like our page and follow us.

    • Soraya July 6, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      Fair play to this man and his achievements BUT (and this a BIG BUT) me thinks he is moving back home to get MARRIED!

    • Boohemian July 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      Well, he has been managing his stay in the UK by going from one program to another and did 3 masters program. Well, he cannot continue to live like this, so it is safer to move back home. And i do not see this article as one that would motivate anyone with proper papers and job to go home.

      I think it would be better to interview those who have actually made the move and have already recorded successes. As well as follow up on them a few years later. People move back to Nigeria from the west all the time but a majority of them do go back to the west again. So, nothing new about someone who is about to move.

      You can only motivate someone by showing them what others who have taken that root have achieved. Not by showing them someone who is planning to do so. How would you know he will be successful or not to encourage you to do so?

      And the fact that there is no name attached to the story makes it look more like fiction than a journalistic article.

      Like he noted, someone noted, he and some commenter noted, it is those in Entertainment, oil

      • Boohemian July 7, 2013 at 4:11 PM

        Ok, the last line was not supposed to be in my reply. I wanted to write something but thought i should end it and did not realise i did not delete that last line. Funny :)

    • sola July 7, 2013 at 7:31 PM

      I think the the person being interviewed probably wants to remain anonymous. that’s why those details are not in the article.

    • mee July 15, 2013 at 4:45 AM

      He doesn’t have a British passport or indefinite stay hence it’s preferable to return rather than paying huge money for Student Visa year in year out. Hence that seems to be the logical reason behind it. I wish you Mr Pharmacist good luck. If he had a british passport, it would be better. all the same it’s a gamble 50/50. Going back with all aspirations doesn’t guarantee Success. Some have taken decision such as myself (wink) to return home to contribute and a make it a better place whilst reaping associated benefits. As men of honor we………………..

      • anonymous February 27, 2014 at 9:56 PM

        ….join hands together