By Peter Egwuatu
Mr Nnamdi Okafor, Managing Director, May& Baker Nigeria Plc, is set to retire by the end of this business year, after almost a decade-long tenure laced with several milestones and further consolidation of the leading pharmaceutical company into one of few Africa’s globally certified centres of excellence in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Okafor, who was appointed in February 2011, will be retiring by December 31, 2020.
The Board of Directors of the Company has notified the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), of the impending retirement of Okafor and the commencement of a succession process by Mr Patrick Ajah, a vastly experienced pharmacist and business manager of nearly three decades experience. MrAjah who resumed on December 1, 2020 as an Executive Director, will work with Okafor for a 1month transition period and assume the leadership as Managing Director with effect from January 1, 2021.
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For nearly a decade, Okafor has come to be regarded as one of the most impactful leaders in the nearly eight decades of May & Baker Nigeria. Taking over from when PBT was barely a third of a billion naira, Okafor has tripled this having led May & Baker Nigeria to becoming a billion-naira-profit company, doubling the balance sheet size from N7bn to N14bn; doubling shareholders’ equity from N3bn to N6bn and also doubling revenues by 100% over his tenure and growing the business by investing in key infrastructure, research and innovation.
Other notable achievements during Okafor’s tenure include the turnaround of the cashflowof the company which was in dire straits at the beginning of his tenure. Net cashflow which was consistently negative in the first 5years due to high debts from banks was turned around in the second half of his tenure having paid off the banks and all short-term debts, injecting fresh equity capital through rights issue and accessing longer-term, low-cost debts from CBN intervention facilities. This has put the company on a solid liquidity position with adequate funds for future growth and expansion.
At a time that industry headwinds and macroeconomic challenges were forcing several healthcare companies to downsize operations, Okafor implemented major strategic plans that not only saw May & Baker Nigeria receiving the coveted World Health Organization (WHO)’s certification of global standards in manufacturing practices (WHO cGMP) for its pharmaceutical manufacturing complex (PharmaCentre) in Ota, Ogun State, but also becoming manufacturing partner for global pharmaceutical companies. The multi-billion naira PharmaCentre, which was commissioned in 2011, was certified with the WHO’s cGMP in 2014.
Besides annual thunderous applause from excited shareholders, many stakeholders had noted and awarded May & Baker honours for its efforts including the Award of Excellence in Pharmaceutical Research and Development by the Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Awards (NHEA). It also received Award for High Quality and Safety in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing from the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI); and in 2018 it received the presidential National Productivity award.
In a major global development, May & Baker Nigeria was selected by French pharmaceutical giant, Sanofi, for a domestic manufacturing contract. Under the agreement, May & Baker Nigeria, in partnership with Sanofi Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Sanofi, would be using its manufacturing facility to produce 5major product brands of Sanofi for sale in Nigeria and the West African market.
As the pharmaceutical company of choice, Okafor’s tenure has seen May & Baker Nigeria at the forefront of Nigeria’s quest for local sufficiency in healthcare and pharmaceutical production. The company and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) are collaborating for commercial production of anti sickle cell drug, while the company has also partnered with the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), for its nutraceutical products.