President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday assured Nigerians of the Senate’s commitment toward a viable pharmaceutical industry where capacity and products will meet the health challenges of the citizenry.
In achieving this, Senator Saraki said the 8th Senate will through review of existing legislations, reposition the manufacturing sector of the economy to favorably compete in the international market.
Addressing the executives of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) led by its Chairman, Mr. Okey Akpa in his office, Saraki said Nigerians must be able to access affordable drugs.
He said local capacity in the production of drugs within Nigeria should be redefined. “This sector requires necessary support from the government, no doubt about this. We must give priority to our pharmaceutical industry. Medicine is a security item and should be prioritized in like manner.
“I don’t think a country yearning for development should still wholly depend on other countries for the supply of their drugs. We must ensure that patronage is given locally and with our large market of over 170 million people, this industry should be able to compete favourably.
The 8th Senate will support you. I want the industry to work closely with relevant committees in the Senate to see how we can get things right,” Saraki urged.
Earlier, the Chairman of PMG-MAN, Mr. Okey Akpa told the Senate President that the pharmaceutical companies in the country have the capacity to produce all essential drugs to meet the need of citizens, pointing out that 35 per cent of drugs in the country are currently produced locally.
Akpa lamented the challenges facing drug manufacturers in the country, saying, “lack of raw materials and funding are major impediment that affect the level of productivity. A scenario where we are subjected to high interest rate. A special fund must be set up to encourage pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria.”
In a related development, the Senate on Wednesday threw its weight behind the reactivation of the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill. Saraki while addressing a team of Ukrainian National Foreign Economy Cooperation, led by Mr. Attah Achimugu, said the Senate is keen to support the new roadmap where commitments made are honoured.
He stressed that the purpose of the visit is to get clear picture of event and to right all wrong policies and inadequate processes which has made the Ajaokuta Steel Complx comatose.
According to him, “we are aware of the situation and we are ready to fix the situation. Lots of money have been sucked into Ajaokuta Steel but we still found ourselves where we are today. Our concern is how to get the Ajaokuta back and the Senate is ready to render what ever support is required yo see the company work.”
In his remark, the leader of the delegation, Attah Achimugu said the light section mill is fully ready and will commence production once the raw materials are available.
Achimugu stressed that the Memorandum of Understanding between his group and the Federal Government which was signed in 2013 paved the way for the smooth take off of Ajaokuta light section mill.
He said about 1,500 metric tones of steel billets are already in the country and once delivered, production will commence.