What is he complaining about?

Card - zero tolerance for buying and selling in the temple

Card - zero tolerance for buying and selling in the temple

Although, it is understandable how you might feel when you see your former clean car being plastered with variety of unwanted stickers by the new owner. But what can you do?

That was the case between the former President of United States of America’s Chief of Staff, Andrew Card and President Barrack Obama, when the former was chastising the latter for not wearing a suit jacket, claiming Obama’s attitude to stain the history-gained respect of the Oval office should be condemned.

In his words, “I don’t criticize Obama for his appearance, I do expect him to send the message that people who are going to be in the Oval Office should treat the office with the respect that it has earned over history.”

His love and respect for the coveted seat of the United States of America presidency is applauded, but it is high time this politicians realise that when the time comes to quit the stage, dont forget your props there!

By ol’Victor Ojelabi

Side Note: To read more, click http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/05/bush-chief-of-staff-to-ob_n_164286.html

WHEN THOSE THAT ARE PAID TO KNOW DON’T KNOW

Soludo - seeks solution

Soludo - seeks solution

Finally, Nigeria has admitted to the fact that she is not immune to the global economic crisis that resulted from the international capital melt-down, which has its origin in the United States of America’s mortgage crisis. The fact of the crisis seeping through our national border to affect our very existence has been known by many except those who should know and are paid to know, in the first place. And why they chose to play hide and seek, still confounds the logically minded. What is, however, important now is to look at ways we can salvage the situation so as to keep businesses going now that our pretensions have fallen flat on the face.

The world or Nigeria is not new to economic crisis which may result from any of the following situations either by way of shortages of goods or services as a result of over-demand, when companies can not meet up with supplies; or inflation when general price level for raw materials and finished goods rises faster and well above annual average; or as a result of recession or depression which is a situation given rise to by slow-down in economic growth, marked by a decline in orders, high inventories, low capacity utilization and lay offs of workers.

Nigeria in particular has experienced all the above stated factors over the years except, arguably, recession or depression. We have had a fair dose of shortages in the 80s may be as a result of the way the economy was being managed then with heavy government involvement. Just as we have had to perpetually contend with inflation which is still present with us till date.

Before this current crisis things have changed for the better in the way the economy is being managed. The economy has been deregulated. Government has divested from most of the concerns that hitherto created bottle necks in the supply chain of goods. How well this approach to running the economy has been is another kettle of fish, however. But of immediate concern is how we can best manage the present crisis.

Before proffering some strategic options, we need to ascertain that we have on our hands all the economic situations as in shortages, inflation and recession and or depression in Nigeria. It can be said that we do not have shortages as in the developed markets of the west, at least basic needs might be costly, but are available.

It is equally difficult to state that we are in a state of recession because the ingredients for recession are not too visible, at least, for now. Some countries in Europe have already declared recession. In Britain, prices of goods are already driving down.

Arguably, the only factor present with us is inflation and economic instability which has to do more with poorly formulated policies and halt-heated application of same. This situation has been long with us and is not about leaving us. So how do we manage it to our advantage, particularly the businesses?

The very first strategy to pursue in times like this is policy consistency. Nigeria has never had a stable policy on any thing. No one policy has ever lasted up to five years in operation. There are some that were even changed as soon as they were made. Policy inconsistencies and lack of basic guidelines in some key areas as well as official tardiness has combined to create instability in businesses’ plans. Just as lack of state plan from which business can draw from and decayed infrastructure has made the operating environment hostile. A good example of official tardiness that impact negatively on businesses is the ugly drama playing out at the port by the name ‘port congestion,’ which is another shame.

Strategic option number two is to look inward and take advantage of local resources both material and men, which is in abundance here. Let us look back to the nineties when our businesses suffered divestments by the west, leaving Nigerian managers in the saddle. Companies like Lever Brothers as it was then called, Guinness Nigeria plc, Nigerian Breweries to mention a few, did so well in their respective areas of business. They recorded growth and expansion to the envy of the run-away investors, now back.

Our businesses are not wanting in the area of product development with local content base. For example, in the 1980s, NBL came up with a soft drink called ‘Green Sandy’ which suddenly disappeared from the market without trace. The performance of our banks in this area is legendary. More of this innovation will leverage us from the hostile global economic environment where we are too technically weak to compete.

One other area to look at is pulling together of resources to fund some special projects of common value and interest just as the banks did in the area of security recently. Research projects in area of raw material sources could also be jointly funded.

Rather than raise prices endlessly, businesses should take the option of concentrating on those products that gives higher returns but at a moderate cost. For example, Cowbell Milk introduced sachet milk to reduce cost of packaging and yet, has everyone taking milk.

Lastly, it will be appreciated if heavy investment is made in the area of infrastructure. Our roads remain in pretty bad shapes. Energy power is completely out with PHCN refusing to give up power it has held on since it came to be. The education sector remains comatose. The communications sector is having a field day short-changing subscribers on the cheap excuse of having to cope with hash business climate.

Just how do we go forward and when are we going to behave?

Wrong time to go to America

This is not the best of times to desire the pursuit of the American Dream of great material attainments to the United States of America. The troubling statistics of damning unemployment rate reaching record peaks last week was exemplified at the North Carolina Employment Security Commission when a phone line problem combined with an overload of applicants for unemployment overwhelmed the computer system preventing some people from filing claims.

The phone line problem was fixed Sunday, when 74,000 people tried to access the system, and the ESC thought the overload problem had been handled as well. But the system failed again Monday when about 55,000 people tried to file either for new or continuing benefits.

Eighteen months ago, the Web site might have gotten 23,000 hits on a busy day, James said.

But the recession has taken its toll in North Carolina, where the jobless rate in November, the last month for which figures are available, was 7.9 percent. That was the highest since October 1983.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings jumped nearly 33 percent in 2008 amid a recession that’s expected to keep filings rising into the new year.

Overall consumer filings reached 1,064,927 last year, up from 801,840 in 2007, according to data collected by the National Bankruptcy Research Center and published by the American Bankruptcy Institute.

A recession that began in December 2007 has stretched many consumers who are turning to bankruptcy protection amid job losses, mortgage foreclosures and heavy personal debt.

SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL

Government is no doubt the biggest business in Nigeria, so it is in countries around the world. Exception is that in more economically developed lands, especially those that are inclined to the capitalist economic model, rather than government to directly engage in the economic arena, they provide an environment where individuals play the economy in pursuit of personal benefit for the good of society in accord with the policies and philosophy of government.

The Nigerian situation won’t pass the test of a capitalist model, what with the confusion that defines government roles in the productive and service sectors that had left public utilities in vicious spasm of a slow death.

The failure of the Nigerian government in business and provision of society’s essentials like potable water and electricity power is no longer controvertible, Nigerians have generally given up on their expectations from government in this regard, it is, however, troubling that government and its agencies now garb economic policy positions and thrusts with odious subterfuge and double speak.

Moments after, the economies of the United States of America and the United Kingdom went into a tailspin, even the most economically ignorant was able to conjecture that the global economy was on its way to a storm which consequences may surpass the storied damnation of the Great Depression that commenced in 1929. But officials of Nigerian government would rather see no evil, hear no evil. The two finance ministers and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria assured that the country was immune to the vagaries of the devastation that had begun to shake the economic foundations of the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.

Yet, signs of malevolent economic change were becoming obvious. Price of crude oil, the nation’s mainstay natural resource suddenly took a dive southward from high in the $150 per barrel of crude oil to $44. Reason for this is obvious, one needs not be a Keynesian to rationalize that developed economies that are the major consumers of crude oil disciplined their appetite for crude oil which in turn reduced the pressure on the demand with attendant fall in price. For Nigeria the implication is grievous, reduced revenue collection, cut down in GDP growth projection, a cascading fall in value of the naira, the national currency, the direct deployment of the $58.11 billion foreign reserve as intervention to save an imperiled economy. And eventually, a life of further distress for the average Nigerian. You don’t need to be a professor of economics to anticipate this turn in the economic sphere.

Already, the scenarios are playing out, the national budget for 2009 is a deficit budget due to anticipated reduction in revenue, three weeks ago, the Naira took a hiding from speculators and others when it lost more than ten per cent of its value to the Dollar in three days; just as there are discomfiting indications of distresses in financial institutions.

The CBN, after its Monetary Policy Committee meeting announced it was going to intervene directly in the daily two way quote foreign exchange market with fund from the nation’s foreign reserve.

Apparently, government and its agencies lack economic anticipatory skill. Soon after the first sign of trouble in the west emerged, a more focused government and its agencies would have cobbled a fiscal and monetary policy position targeted at the eventual impact of the roiling global economic scene on the country.

It is not too late, rather than the piece meal attention to specific worrisome spectre of economic emergency, it is better for the CBN, finance ministry and whoever, to evolve policies and measures with strong anticipatory ingredient to address likely troublesome financial and economic scenarios that may impact the country in the next 12 months.

As it is, we lost the opportunity to seize the initiative of building a bulwark against the negative consequences of the global economic downturn by acting the ostrich with its head in the sand even as trouble raged.

Certainly, responsible and responsive countries around the world are girding their loins in anticipation of a long tenor of battling with the economic crises. For Nigeria, the consequences of the global economic troubles are yet to fully manifest in the country, it would, indeed, be a matter of common sense to put together measures and policies that can help stave the negatives of the eventual infiltration of the global economic crises. This is a better option than to continue to beat the chest in the assurance of the community enjoying certain immunity from the global crises.

We all know that Nigeria is not exactly blessed with enduring economic structures and initiatives that have the capabilities to self correct in the face of a crisis that slowly but inevitably heads toward the country.

The ‘I Before You’ Syndrome

A System can be defined as units or parts (sub-systems) that interact with each part or unit to function as a whole. The units or parts are designed in a manner that makes its operations optimal with less grid-lock and distractions or un-necessary overlapping that will create bottle necks or tardiness to function effectively so much so that all the units that make a whole will almost automatically fit into place to give one big system.

A well managed system institutionalized becomes so functional that every body will on entry into the system know what to do and how to do it without relying on brain wave or native intelligence or worst still rely on the ‘thoughts’ of the man on the spot to carry out official functions as was the case with our military detractors, extended by our ‘Mr. know all’ General OBJ even when we claim to be operating a democratic system of government.

Some of the features of a functional system lies in its ability to be self regulatory, detects deviations from set standards which it allows for setting with ease in the first place and setting of further standards, makes planning easy and effective and gives enough room for appraisal of operations and above all brings about efficiency and professionalism because of its effectiveness. A good functional system even allow for accurate projections to be made in all the areas of society’s needs with precision.

System is so central to human activities that no plan no matter how good it may look like can function in a dysfunctional system though a functional system is a result of good planning. So total is a system that it is easy to discern a functional society viding the system in place thus allowing things to done in a particular way with character as the common denominator.

Whether in governance or business or even in our private lives, its none application gives room for dislocations through faulty assumptions that sometimes are very costly and fatal resulting to instability and social vices. A good example is our inability to have a budget on time. Inter and intra governmental conflict in the country is also another sore point of the confused situation we are into.

For a very long while now you see and hear Nigerians lamenting either through write-ups in the newspapers or comments on TV station(s) the break down of system in Nigeria or lack of it claiming that that is why nothing functions here. Often comparison is drawn between Nigeria and Europe and United States of America, places where in their reckoning things work. They are absolutely right except that no one so far has posited why theirs is working and ours is not.

What we have not been able to do like others we often refer to is that we have allowed institutions that should be nurtured and grown into functional systems to be revolved around individuals who are holders of those offices at any point in time. Rather than allow institutions to make persons we allow persons to make the institutions, a direct opposite of what obtains in the places we see and refer to as better than ours.

Bastardization of institutions started with IBB regime when the civil service was dismantled all because one man wants to remain in power at all cost and the rules will not fast track it hence total demolition of all the structures built over time that has given a semblance of system to our governance. Ask Gen. Gowon the usefulness of the civil service and see what a good system it was before IBB and all the rapacious regimes that followed later including Obasanjos’.

Now we today are celebrating the judiciary as the last hope of the common man with some even suggesting rightly too as the only institution or arm of government functioning. The fact is that is about the only institution spared by all the military regimes that has ruled this country even though it is for selfish reasons. The judiciary managed to resist or escape the over-bearing tendencies of the military for reason known to them.

Painfully though is the fact that Nigerians in more than so many ways contributed immensely to the destruction of our institutions through direct collaboration and or complacency. The attitude we exhibited in enthroning ‘me’ instead of ‘we’ that has seen individuals more powerful or relevant than the institution they head is what we are all witnessing in the case of Nuhu Ribadu and the EFCC and the police as institution.

The role of the media on this saga, who was supposed to educate on issues of this nature, is to say the least, is appalling. There is the suggestion going by the write-ups in the media that Ribadu is being given some bad treatment thus insinuating he is bigger than EFCC or that without him there will be no EFCC. And it is a shame that the watch dog role the media is supposed to play in ensuring public office holders account for their stewardship which Nuhu Ribadu has failed to do so far is being questioned shamelessly. We did it during the regimes of IBB, Sani Abacha, even Obasanjo. But they all have left office and Nigeria remains. Some sanity please.

It is my opinion that Ribadu should go and answer to questions being raised over his stewardship at EFCC. He should also realize that he is a police man first before being Chairman of EFCC and most importantly him as a lawyer ought to know and he should know that the police are an institution with its rules and regulation. The police have its own system still functioning. If for any reason he finds it difficult to operate within that system he should honourably bow out. The people urging him on knows this and will deny him soon, very soon.

By the way where is DSP Ogugbuaja?

OCEANIC BANK, BANK PHB AND STERLING BANK GET CBN LIFELINE

L-R, Cecilia Ibru, Oceanic; Francis Atuche, BankPHB; Yemi Adeola, Sterling

L-R: Cecilia Ibru, Oceanic; Francis Atuche, BankPHB; Yemi Adeola, Sterling

Nigeria’s version of the global credit crunch might have crystalised into a reality that may not be easily wished away. Reports from sources inside the Central Bank of Nigeria asserted that three banks in Nigeria have been given lifelines to shore up their liquidity standing. These banks according to the source are; Oceanic Bank Plc, Bank PHB and Sterling Bank. With the exception of Sterling Bank that secured a N90billion lifeline, the other two got N100billion funding in what banking industry analysts said is akin to a financial bailout for the banks.

This is coming on the heels of a meeting of chief executives of banks held on Tuesday, 15 October 2008. The high point of that meeting was the decision by the banks’ chief executives to formally request the Federal Government to intervene in the nation’s financial sector to forestall the effect of the ongoing global financial crisis on the system.

The committee of banks chief executives also agreed at the meeting to request the Federal Government to intervene in the nation’s financial market through a package of measures similar to those introduced in developed countries and that the Central Bank (CBN) should continue to support the interbank money market.

Reports indicated that the bankers would have preferred the United States of America and Europe’s option where government directly intervened to inject funds into selected crisis ridden banks and, in some cases, nationalizing the financial institutions that were strategic to the main-stream banking public but whose liquidity profile had become moribund.

Sources inside the Central Bank of Nigeria informed that the CBN Governor rather opted for the fiscal management approach. The CBN, had, before the meeting of the banks chiefs, granted the banking industry a concession through a circular directive of October 2, 2008 to restructure some of their capital market exposures to December 31, 2009. Interpreted, this concession allows banks not to make provision for non performing loans and other facilities that had gone into the nation’s capital market that had taken a dive for the deeps since March, 2008.

“Apparently, the concession was not enough to stave off the simmering threat of illiquidity banks were experiencing.” The CBN source said. “In response to the appeal of the banks chiefs, the CBN offered the option of an expanded discount window operation. The key elements of the expanded discount window operation provided the opportunity for banks that need to assuage their liquidity problems to use short term financial instruments, like overnight standing facility, treasury bills, federal government bonds and non-federal government securities as collateral to secure long term funds from the CBN. You know the CBN conducts liquidity mop up of the money market by selling treasury bills and also sell bonds to financial institutions, normally, treasury bills are due in 30 days while bond are due in period ranging from 90 days to 180 days. Now, to help the liquidity problems in the banking sector, the CBN, with the expanded discount window, allows the banks to present these short term instruments which the CBN will use as collateral to provide funds for them for repayment period of 365 days.” The source explained.

This option does not seem to have been effective, the Nigeria Inter Bank Official Rate, the rate at which banks lend themselves money, have continued to increase, spiking to as high as 21 percent last week. This may not be unconnected to the fact that just a few banks are in the position to lend money to needy banks. Fortune&Class Weekly reported last week that many banks chief executives continued to troop to First Bank Plc, to negotiate and secure funding to keep their operations going.

CHILD’S TEETHING PROBLEMS, MY PIKIN TEETHING MIXTURE AND WHERE MOTHERS GOT IT WRONG

Dateline 1990, locations, University of Jos Teaching Hospital and the University College Hospital, Ibadan; 109 Children died after administration of Paracetamol Syrup. This was 57 years after the infamous 1937 Elixir Sulphanilamide disaster in the United States of America in which 107 people died after taking sulphanilamide dissolved in diethylene glycol.

Eighteen years after, My Pikin Teething Mixture, a product registered by NAFDAC may have been fingered as the ‘killer‘ drug that has claimed the lives of not less than 25 children. The drug is manufactured by Barewa Pharmaceuticals Limited, a certified manufacturer by NAFDAC. The national drug law enforcer has, however, shut down the company in the wake of the death allegedly in consequence of the administration of the drug.

Barewa, has, since then, spiritedly defended the contents of My Pikin Teething Mixture as a Paracetamol based drug containing Paracetamol B.P. 120 mg and Diphenhydramine HCL B.P. 6.25 mg per 5mls. But a preliminary test carried out by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, has revealed that besides Paracetamol, the drug contains Diethylene glycol as against propylene glycol which is the commonly used excipient. Incidentally, Diethelyne glycol was also implicated in the 1990 deaths in Jos and Ibadan

What is more worrisome with this type of poisoning is the fact that the original chemical entity, Paracetamol is naturally poisonous to the kidneys and liver in high doses. Marry this with the toxicity of Diethylene glycol, what do you have? Bomb!! Instant death.

These, however, are 25 deaths too many. While we await the report of more detailed investigations from the appropriate authorities, so many questions are begging for answers;

Is the drug registered by NAFDAC?

Is the factory currently certified by NAFDAC?

When was the last audit of the factory carried out by NAFDAC?

When was the last time NAFDAC independently surveyed this particular drug in the market?

Has NAFDAC a structured process/procedure to routinely carry on surveillance on ALL products in the market or does the agency randomly pick products?

What do all the agencies, LUTH, UCH, NAFDAC want to achieve by ‘issuing alert’? What in specific terms have they done? What have they put in place to ensure positive outcome? What has been the distribution route of all products from this factory in the last Three months?

Does this ‘alert’ consider the chaotic nature of our drug distribution channels which the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria has been talking about over the last several years?

Over the years, regulatory bodies have scaled up their regulatory oversight on pharmaceutical excipients. Pharmaceutical excipients – are inactive ingredients used to formulate active ingredients into finished dosage forms

“…For example, excipients can:

• aid in the processing of the drug delivery system during its

manufacture,

• protect, support or enhance stability, bioavailability or patient

acceptability,

• assist in product identification, or

• enhance any other attribute of the overall safety, effectiveness

or delivery of the drug during storage or use…”

It may interest the Nigerian public to know that since 2007, European regulatory agencies have initiated steps to improve the quality and regulatory aspects of all excipients used in pharmaceutical products all over Europe because of the risks associated with pharmaceutical excipients. Some of the documented evidence of risk includes:

Fraudulent product obtained from broken supply chain and distribution routes leading to contamination cases and tragedies as outlined below:

1990 Nigeria: Cough syrup contaminated with solvents (47 reported deaths)

1986-1998 India and Bangladesh: Paracetamol syrup contaminated with diethylene glycol from propylene glycol origins (236 reported deaths)

1996 Haiti: Glycerine contaminated with diethylene glycol (88 reported deaths)

Potential exposure:

• Use of inappropriate grade of materials for critical route of administration (e.g. pyrogene-free requirements)

• Excipient variability between suppliers

It is a known general requirement of Good Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Practise to analyse ALL inputs to the production process. We need to know what is contained in the production process submitted by the company while registering My Pikin Mixture as submitted by the company and approved by NAFDAC. Is this process complied with by the manufacturer?

Some pharmacists have long questioned the rational for our regulatory body to continue to register teething formulations. Teething is a well known non specific condition that is common with children and the usual practise is to symptomatically manage the child.

‘We are confronted with cases of mothers using various teething formulations at once usually resulting in a child taking about 4X the dose of paracetamol’ says a colleague during our brain storming section on Teething mixtures some Six months ago. Cases abound where mothers administer these teething formulations (which usually contain Paracetamol 120mg/5ml) with standard Paracetamol syrup. This health risk is further compounded as they are both Over The Counter (OTC) medicines without regulatory restriction/control of use. While this school of thought has spoken against the outright ban of Paracetamol, some have advocated more stringent packaging alert and warning to parents


This should not be the time for agencies and institutions to trade blames or to start defending themselves. The Federal government should consider these deaths a national tragedy. The loss of defenceless innocent children is not taken lightly in countries where citizens are considered supreme

One thing is clear, the way NAFDAC is currently constituted underscores the fact the agency is a reactionary agency. The agency should be reformed to anticipate problems and prevent them from happening. Life is too precious to be treated the way we currently do, particularly that of Innocent Children

It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to protect the health of the Nigerian Population and I believe that this is one of the reasons NAFDAC was set up. Parents should not just take this as another case of an ‘act of God.’ They should consider this as another case of the carelessness of the state through her agencies against the citizen. This may just be an opportunity for the victims to challenge this callous act through our judicial process. This may just be the wake up call we need to usher in a new healthcare system that really cares for the Nigerian citizens

The dry weather is back again. This is usually the period for high prescription of chloramphenicol eye drop. Has this been prescribed for you. Below is the prescribed way to administer it for maximum benefit.

ADVICE TO PATIENTS

(1) Chloramphenicol Eye Drop;

1. Chlopramphenicol is an antibiotic used to treat eye infection.

2. It is important to use this eye drop as frequently and for as long as the doctor has prescribed and advised by your pharmacist.

3. Do not wear contact lenses while using this drug.

4. If using two drops, for each dose wait for a minute or two between applying the first and second drop. Using more than two drops will not help because the excess will run out of your eye.

5. Pressing your finger against the inner corner of the eye (by the nose) for about a minute after using the drops can help to stop the drops draining into your nose and throat.

6. Discard any unused and left over content three (3) weeks after opening.

7. You may feel a brief stinging after using this eye drop. If this is prolonged for more than three days or your eyes do not get better please see your doctor or pharmacist.