Manufacturers under the aegis of the National Association of Industrial Pharmacists (NAIP) have made a clarion call to the federal government to declare a state of emergency in the manufacturing sector.

In a recent interview with Pharmanews, Pharm. Moses Oluwalade, managing director of Miraflash Nigeria Limited, an indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturing company, explained that, given the right attention and support, the manufacturing sector had the potential to yield billions of dollars in annual revenue.

“There should be a deliberate effort to encourage manufacturers by creating an enabling environment for them and opening up channels for loans at affordable lending rates. We are advocating for a special fund that local manufacturers can access,” he said.

Oluwalade noted that the main reason many big companies were folding up was because of unfavourable operating environment.

While expressing firm confidence that the local manufacturing holds the key to Nigeria’s future, the pharmacist canvassed that certain drastic measure must be put in place to promote the sector to rapidly develop the economy.

“We want the present administration to declare a state of emergency in the manufacturing sector and provide an enabling environment so that more companies can come up,” he said. “Instead of providing jobs in other countries, we can actually create jobs here in Nigeria for our populace.”

Shedding more light on his position regarding the Nigerian business landscape, Oluwalade said: “There are several businesses that have closed down due to hostile environment. When I say hostile, I mean no light, no water and no good road. If these problems are properly addressed, more businesses will thrive. At the current rate of lending in commercial banks, no manufacturer will survive. The interest rates have to be reasonable for manufacturers to survive.”

It would be recalled that Miraflash was one of the two local pharmaceutical companies selected by Standford Seed Innovation Programme (West Africa) in March 2015 for transformation of developing economies through the scaling of medium to large companies by intensive training and development of manpower and structural capacity.

Concurring with him, Dr Lolu Ojo, immediate past chairman of the association in Lagos, argued that the manufacturing arm of the pharmaceutical sector was long due for such considerations.

Ojo noted that local manufacturing was quite a difficult terrain, particularly given the many hurdles that must be surmounted in the Nigerian environment.

The managing director of Merit Healthcare Limited observed that it was quite easy to import products and make quick profit, but strictly warned that this should not be the focus of an economy aspiring for growth.

“We cannot continue to live on commerce to the neglect of industry,” Ojo cautioned. “Whether we like it or not, we must have factories like Miraflash that can produce locally. Even if it is intermediate production, once it is mastered, we can start primary production, using available locally sourced raw materials,” he said.

Ojo futher said that he agreed with the notion that the time was ripe for Nigeria to consider declaring a pharmaceutical village where local pharmaceutical production would be stimulated.

“All these monies being used or not being used to buy arms could be used to set up a pharmaceutical village. Let it be divided into industrial plots, encourage people to come, provide amenities and loan out money at five or six per cent, the sector would develop massively,” he said.

The ex-NAIP boss also emphasised the importance of government patronage of locally-manufactured products, noting for example that if the Ogun State government decided to buy pharmaceuticals from companies in the state, there would be more than enough of multivitamins, ampiclox, ampicillin, among others that are used in the state.

“That, to me, is how to make manufacturing attractive and I believe this development will make more people to come on board,” he said.