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Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa: Wired to Lead

Having been born in August of 1950, Samuel Iheanyichukwu Ohuabunwa will be 70 tomorrow. Humble and God fearing, Mazi, as he is fondly called, is liked by friends and respected by peers for his selfless and untiring service to Nigeria.

Ohuabunwa loves writing and was for years a columnist for BusinessDay.

Tomorrow, he will call friends together on Zoom to honour God and also to launch his latest book, “Wired to Lead – life lessons from many years of organisational leadership.”

It is a 214-page book that begins with comments by four eminent Nigerians – Prince Juli AdelusiAdeluyi, the former minister of health who turned 80 last week; a retired Professor of Political Science, Uma O Eleazu, an elder of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria; Nath C U Okoro, and retired General ML Agwai. The forward is written by Vincent Anibogu, director-general, Institute of National Transformation.

The fifth comment comes, fittingly at the end of the book and it is that by Christopher Kolade, the respected former Nigerian Envoy to the UK, who notes that Mazi “committed himself, early enough to the faith that assured him that, indeed, he could do all these things ‘through Christ, who gives (him) strength’.”

In the opening Chapter, titled Experiential Domain, the author talks about his love and desire for work driven by an innate desire to contribute to changing things and making a difference, and underpinned by an unusually high dose of social conscience.

In Chapter 19, Mazi recounts the many awards he received while in service, including three from three different presidents of Nigeria. But, Mazi is quick to ascribe his attainments in life to the Grace of God.

Founder of Sam Ohuabunwa Foundation For Economic Empowerment, Mazi Ohuabunwa has transversed the business landscape, and at different times has been at the head of seven different companies and groups including the position of chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Specialist Limited; chairman Nigeria Economic Summit Group; president at Nigeria Employers Consultative Association; chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Products plc, and president Nigerian-american Chamber of Commerce.

Mazi Ohuabunwa is the current president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).

He received an undergraduate degree from Obafemi Awolowo University and has been honoured twice by the Nation – first as Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), in 2001, and then Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), in 2011. He has also received the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) Award, given in 2018.

Sam is a proven leader, Lay Minister, social worker, entrepreneur, nation builder, columnist and author – all rolled into one, as he credits all his successes to the Grace of God.

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa first studied pharmacy at the University of Ife (now OAU), graduating in 1976. He had a postgraduate training in Business and Organisational Management at the Columbia University, USA, and he is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School (LBS).

He joined Pfizer Products plc in 1978 as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, rising to becoming the chairman/ceo in 1993.

He was tested in 1997 when he had to lead the Management Buyout of Pfizer Inc. shares in Pfizer Products plc, transforming the resultant company – Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals plc, into a medium-sized Nigerian Research and Development (R&D) Based Pharmaceutical company.

He voluntarily retired from the company after 33 years of service. Eighteen of those years he spent on the CEO level.

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa is a Fellow of several professional organisations including the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (FPSN), the Nigerian Academy of Pharmacy (FNA. Pharm), the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (FPC. Pharm), the Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM), the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (FNIMN), the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (FNIPR), the Institute of Management Consultants (FIMC), and the Association of Corporate Governance Professionals in Nigeria (FCGP).

He was a member of the Presidential Advisory Council ( PAC) and served as a member of the Presidential Committee on Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, a Christian and Knight of Saint Christopher (KSC) of the Anglican Communion, serves as the National Coordinator – Strategic Operations of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI), Nigeria.

In addition to his long years of work in the private sector, he has had exposures to the working of the public sector. He was chairman, Governing Council, Abia State Polytechnic, chairman of Board of Abia State University Teaching Hospital, currently chairman, Governing Council of the Abia State PublicPrivate Partnerships and Investment Promotion Agency, and chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT), Gregory University, Uturu (GUU).

Throughout his career, Sam participated in several activities and was a member of several delegations that worked to promote the interest of his Profession and Society.

For his active participation and service in the profession and its activities, Sam has been severally honoured by the Society. Sam also received the Merit award of Lagos State PSN (1993); Award of Excellence by PSN Enugu (1994); Eminent Persons Award of the Nigerian Association of Industrial Pharmacists (1996); Professional Excellence Award of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (1997); Award of Excellence of PSN, Ebonyi State (1999); Icon of Pharmacy by the National Association of Industrial Pharmacists (2011).

He was honoured with the Fellowship of the Society (FPSN) in 1994 and has been invited to the prestigious fellowships of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists ( FPC. Pharm), and the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (Fnapharm). He is the life Patron of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students (PANS) National, and has supported PANS yearly since graduation in 1976.

Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, there has been an overflow of information on social media, websites and mainstream media about the virus.

The increased access to the information has led to a proliferation in sources of information, with the attendant consequence that it has enabled the spread of misinformation and fake news, says public health experts.

According to Vivianne Ihekweazu, managing director at Nigeria Health Watch, through Meedan’s public health experts, Nigeria Health Watch is filling the misinformation gap in Nigeria by debunking COVID-19 rumours in a timely manner. For Nigerians to stay safe and protect themselves from COVID-19, they need to be accurately informed.

Meanwhile, through a project supported by Meedan and launched in June 2020, Nigeria Health Watch counters misinformation and fake news about COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“Nigeria Health Watch leverages on Meedan’s team of public health experts who fact-check health rumours, responding and debunking them. The evolving nature of information about the virus has created a vacuum that is being filled with many unknowns, as a result leaving people vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation,” said Ihekweazu.

Ihekweazu explained that Nigeria Health Watch uses social and traditional media to disseminate the debunked misinformation in an engaging and informative approach. This is done by producing multimedia messages to reach different target audiences and especially communities at the grassroots.

“The platform that Nigeria Health Watch provides is important because it provides feedback for the rumours that are circulating around COVID-19,” she added.

Similarly, Meedan’s experts have debunked several common rumours, and pieces of misinformation on COVID-19. This includes the myth that malaria and COVID-19 are the same. This is particularly important as malaria cases peak at this period in Nigeria and both diseases have similar symptoms but have different modes of transmission and a misdiagnosis could have serious repercussions, harming people’s lives.

Other rumours that have been debunked include the potential for COVID-19 reinfection, drinking of alcohol to prevent COVID-19 and wearing gloves to protect against COVID19.

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