“Learning and Character: two Pillars of Success” – Okey Akpa
Mr. Okey Akpa FPSN, FNAPharm, is the Managing Director of SKG Pharma and Chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN). He recently addressed the Final Year students of Covenant University at a Town and Gown Interaction on Leadership, organized by the College of Leadership Development Studies. Among other things, he told the audience that Learning and Character are two pillars needed for success in life after school. In this interview with Media and Corporate Affairs, he shed more light on his presentation and possible collaborations with the University, among other things. Excerpts:
Question: Can you summarize all you told the students today?
Answer: All I told the students was to look forward to a positive life after their study. They should be positive and know that they have been well prepared to face the future after passing through one of the best universities that we’ve come to reckon with. I have no doubt that they have been prepared in both learning and in character, which are the two pillars that create success out there. Fortunately, for us, this university believes in those two pillars- Learning and Character. So, I told them in a nutshell that they should hold on and come out with boldness and confidence, and they will succeed out there because they have been equipped.
I went further to dwell a little bit on what makes for character and the values they must look for. I mentioned two words, which are Value and Service. I have tried to share with them that anyone who can deliver value will not lack success out there and anyone who is fond of service will always attract people. Also, they should be tenacious and never quit because it is not going to be easy all through. When you come out, there will be challenges. It is not everything you want, you get, but if you keep at it you will succeed. If you work on it, it will work. However if you quit, it quits, that’s it. Also, I have found the interaction very enriching, very rewarding and I must thank the University, the College, particularly Professor Obayan, and the Chancellor for creating this kind of atmosphere. The questions from the students were very insightful and that tells me the kind of minds you are grooming.
Question: How will you describe some of the CU graduates you have interacted with?
Answer: I found them very intelligent. They were very knowledgeable. One of the challenges we have is people coming to us and claiming they have read a course and know little or nothing about the subject. However, the ones from Covenant University were very knowledgeable. We also find that they have the fear of God in the way they conduct themselves. Sometimes almost being reserved, but I see it as the seed of the fear of God in them. So in all, I am pleased. As a matter of fact, we do ask some of them if they find what we are doing relevant; they should please knock on our doors when they are searching for jobs.
Questions: We do not have Pharmacy as a course in Covenant University, but in what other ways can you see Covenant University collaborating with your group or some of those organizations under your group as a result of this Town and Gown interaction?
Answer: As the Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, PMG-MAN, (the umbrella body of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers), I have the confidence that I will be speaking the mind of my colleagues to say yes, we are looking for quality human capital. We are looking for people with skills, knowledge, and integrity so it is not a bad idea to drop a mail to the group, requesting that some of the students who desire industrial knowledge be given opportunity for experience in some of these companies. That way, some companies will find it a lot more comfortable that this is coming from PMG-MAN.
All our members have highly equipped facilities- laboratories, and factories. It is not a bad idea to also occasionally bring the students around to see what it looks like. This can include students in Life Sciences, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and not necessarily Pharmacy. Students in Engineering can also come around; these chaps need to start seeing what a boiler, a big generator and in fact a factory flow looks like. You may just be surprised, the kind of interest they may develop just by walking around the factory. You never know who is going to say, “Am going to love doing this”, because these are young people, so it will be a good opportunity to work together.
Question: What can you say about this Leadership programme by the University? How do you see it bridging the leadership gap we have in the country and Africa generally?
Answer: I think it is a great innovation because I have always believed that leadership can be taught. I share that view as much as I also share the view that some people can be born with very great leadership qualities. For the University to create a curriculum around Leadership, for me that is great. Leadership is also something people should be conscious of. Putting the students through this kind of system, through a well structured curriculum, makes them to be aware that this is not something we take for granted. For those who have the qualities already, it only makes them better; for those who may think they don’t have it, it puts it in them. So, it is a great innovation.