An institute established more than 36 years ago to develop drugs, biological products and pharmaceutical raw materials from indigenous resources in Nigeria is presently hampered by lack of funds.
Due to the paucity of funds, the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, NIPRD, located in the Idu Industrial Layout of Abuja, has been without electricity for over nine months since the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company cut off power supply over the failure of the institute to settle its debts.
During visits to the institute by a reporter on Wednesday, the place was in darkness due to absence of electricity. Its Director General, Karyinus Gamaniel, said the lack of electricity was an evidence of the challenges facing the institute.
He said although it needs electricity to operate, it has no fund to settle its electricity bills.
“This institution has not had power supply for over nine months. Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) packed up the power connections of the institution since early part of 2016.”
The professor of pharmacology explained that in the past few months, the institute has tried to improvise with a generator.
“We did a kind of rationalization for the past two months in which by 10 a.m. the generator supplies power for few hours. Prior to this, no power supply in the institution”, he said.
The Director-General added that 95 per cent of the challenges of the institution is due to underfunding as overhead expenses are hardly met.
He added that budgetary allocation to NIPRD is never enough, and even the budgeted sum only partially disbursed.
A review of the health ministry’s budgets shows that the institute was allocated N922.6 million in 2014, N716.7 million in 2015, N675.1 million in 2016, while N711.6 million has been proposed in the 2017 budget currently before the National Assembly
Mr. Gamaniel, however, said the allocations, though not enough, were never fully released to his agency.
He said the situation had gotten worse, adding that whereas about 80 per cent of the appropriated funds used to be released, only a fraction of what was appropriated had been made available in the past three years.
He said the reason why the public has not heard of the achievements of the institution is due to poor funding.
“It’s not like the institution is not really working, we are focusing on our priority.
“People don’t know much about the institution because communication itself is not cheap. We need adequate funding to do that,” he said.
Efforts to contact the health ministry on the poor funding of the institute were unusccessful. The ministry’s spokesperson, Boade Akinola, did not pick or return calls to her phone nor respond to a text message.
NIPRD was established in 1980 to develop drugs, biological products and pharmaceutical raw materials from indigenous resources.