From Chuks Moses, Awka.
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole has warned the drugs and allied products dealers/distributors in Onitsha, Anambra state, and at Aba, Kano and Lagos, to see the latest extension of the relocation deadline to December next year as the last.
These cities were chosen by the Federal Government in pursuit of its newly introduced Coordinated Wholesale Centre(CWC) policy in the country.
Leading a team of top Federal Government officials on a two day working visit to Anambra state, Adewole told journalists:”…Yes there are doubters who think the government was not serious with the policy but I have emphasized that this is the last extension of the relocation deadline.
“Maybe people still believe that the Federal Government is joking. Government does not joke.
“We do not want fake drugs or falsified labels, we just want genuine drugs and the only way to do so is centralizing the drug market so that we can determine what comes in and what goes out.
“I want everyone to get serious and start building at the new locations …”, the Minister stressed.
Prof Adewole expressed the latest government resolve at the Anambra International Market site for the construction of the Coordinated Wholesale Centre (CWC) for pharmaceutical products sales/distribution at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra.
He noted the Federal Government’s determination to end the sale of drugs in the open market by Dec. 31, 2018, having graciously extended the deadline for the last time from the initial July 2017.
“We have agreed to extend the deadline till Dec. 31, 2018 and that will be the last extension. We are irrevocably committed.
“By Jan. 1, 2019, if you are not here at the coordinated centre, then you cannot be anywhere. I am saying it with all seriousness that this is the last extension,” the minister stressed.
The Minister after inspecting and assessing the suitability of the new site, gave kudos to the Uche Eze-led Central Pharmaceutical and Allied Products Wholesales Ltd for their efforts and zeal in the acquisition of the location. He therefore approved the site for immediate construction of the prototype shops as already designed and approved for them by the FG.
In aninteractive session with the traders and other stakeholders including the officials of the state government, the host community of the new market site, pharmacists, medical doctors, pharmaceutical products manufacturers/importers/distributors, traditional rulers, the Minister charged all to work assiduously to meet the next year’s deadline as the FG was not going to extend it anymore.
Prof Adewole and his entourage that included the National Agency for Foods, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN) and others, at the end of the visit gave a pass mark to the traders.
He admitted that though not much structures were on ground, he was impressed with the new Oba site. “It’s beautiful and am reassured of the commitment by the stakeholders that they were going to meet the deadline of Dec 31,2018,” he added.
He confirmed that with the pace of activities in Oba, Anambra has overtaken Aba, Lagos and Kano in their efforts to comply with the relocation order and used the opportunity to urge all others to step up action as the FG would not extend the date again.
He commended the Anambra state government for supporting the project and being on the same page with the Federal Government on the project, urging the leadership of the drugs market groups in the state to settle their differences amicably so as to carry everyone along in peace.
While reassuring him of their commitment, Mr Uche Eze noted that, “we have concluded the documentations for the site, and have also cleared the land….
“It is of note that the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria(PCN) have inspected and approved the proposed site as being suitable for the erection of structures that will house the CWC
“The site planning has been completed. However the major work is in the erection of structures and I make bold to say that we are not relenting despite numerous challenges.
He also assured the Minster of their commitment to the actualization of the new Federal Government’s policy on drugs distribution.
The interactive session gave the traders and other stakeholders opportunity to ask the Minster all the questions that had bugged their minds concerning the new CWC policy.
Representative of Gov Obiano and Anambra state Commissioner for Commerce, Trades and Wealth Creation, Mrs Amaka Ilobi, assured that Gov Willie Obiano remains committed to providing all necessary enabling environment for the businesses to thrive in the state.
Engr Leo Okere, who is the Project Manager of Bukham Nig Ltd, developers of the Anambra International Market told journalists that they were eager to see all the various sections of the market roll off the ground for activities to begin to thrive, decongest Onitsha, yield more revenue for the state government, and create thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities to the unemployed in the state and beyond.
According to him, more high net worth groups, multinational companies and international agencies were already making committed inquiries on taking up locations in the emerging biggest market in Africa at Oba.