The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has flayed state governors for not showing interest in the development of herbal medicine which it says has the capacity to create jobs, foreign exchange and generate income for Nigeria.
Describing the governors as lazy, the Director-General of NIPRD, Dr Obi Adigwe, criticised them for solely depending on monthly federal allocation rather than developing sectors that could internally generate billions for the states.
Dr Adigwe raised the concerns in an interview with journalists as part of events to mark the 2021 African Traditional Medicine Day, in Abuja.
He regretted that the herbal medicine sector is currently being neglected by state governors despite being a multi-billion dollar sector that can make every state financially independent.
The pharmaceutical expert, however, advocated the creation of farms for the cultivation and processing of herbal medicinal plants in Nigeria to encourage the local production of drugs.
The governors, Adigwe said, “need to understand the potential that is in their backyard. This is because a simple phyto medicinal project in their states will ensure that one million farmers, one million local women, one million youth are actively engaged in jobs and the products will yield output that can be exported or sold in the market once it gets NAFDAC registration.”
“We have engaged all the 36 state governors in Nigeria. I am disappointed with the level of response we have gotten. Only a handful of them recognizes the potential in the herbal medicine sector.
“There is no state in Nigeria that does not have plants that have potential to generate high-quality pharmaceutical products as well as earn revenue. “But many of these state governors are just being lazy looking for ready-made subvention from the federal government whereas the gold that is in their backyard if they harnessed will create jobs for their citizenry is just lying there doing nothing.”
While noting that India has tapped into its rich herbal medicinal plants and is making billions of dollars in foreign exchange for its people, Adigwe said Nigeria has more quality medicinal plants than India.
“It is on record that the number of plants in Nigeria that have ethnomedicinal and ethnobotanical potentials runs in thousands and less than 10 per cent of them have been harnessed. “And these potentials exist in every region and every state of the federation,” he noted. He revealed that: “We have mapped out three products per state which when they are developed, will not only generate high-quality products, it will also ensure that the local people in the rural areas have jobs.
“It will also ensure that you build their capacity because they will be able to harvest and process them in a manner that is internationally acceptable.
“It will also ensure that revenue is generated for the citizenry and for the government because they will pay taxes when they register with NAFDAC and when they sell it in pharmacy shops and when they export. We are sitting in a gold mine.”
He, however, advised the herbal medicine practitioners to develop themselves by improving their knowledge and also charged them to join the traditional medicine boards in their states for proper regulation.