A call for Patriotism: The story of Xechem Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Ltd. is one that Nigerian compatriots everywhere should spare a few moments to learn more about and understand its significance to the Nigerian nation. Due to our busy schedule what has been done in this article is to highlight in the first few paragraphs the challenge Xechem Nigeria faces today and we are all urged to think about this and offer suggestions as to how we can save the situation so that for posterity it will be on record that we did our best to improve Nigeria, now seen and known around the world as one of the countries with the worst reputation in corruption, accountability, decency, transparency, management competence, and patriotism. After reading the challenge, please spend a few moments to also learn about the background, purpose, hopes and aspirations of Xechem Nigeria. The story of Xechem Nigeria is beyond any single individual. It is a story conceptualized to project Nigeria as a country where something decent, inspirational and indeed great, can happen; and in future, we can all point at it with pride as a turning point in the effort to carve a new and inspiring image for our dear country.

The current situation: Recent developments have given some of us enough worry to believe that our hopes are about to be dashed to make Xechem Nigeria the pace setting example of a truly home grown Nigerian biopharmaceutical company that will make all of us proud

I learned a few days ago from an impeccable source that our Xechem Pharmaceuticals Nigeria, Ltd. is to be auctioned on March 16, 2009 by a Courthouse in Chicago, Illinois, USA! Xechem Nigeria will be sold to the highest bidder in Chicago, but it does not seem enough Nigerians are aware of this. Bidding for the company closes on March 10, 2009! My source indicates that the Platinumhabib Bank (Bank PHB) has requested approval to act as agent for Xechem International in soliciting bids in Nigeria. The same source also indicates that nothing shall prohibit additional marketing efforts or a motion to retain an additional broker. We do not have much time left! Xechem International, the parent company for Xechem Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Ltd., filed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy recently in the US and what we learned at the time was that the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing was not in anyway going to interfere with Xechem Nigeria, but the contrary is about to happen!

I paid a short visit to the Managing Director in his Xechem Nigeria office last December (2008), who was upbeat about a prosperous future for Xechem Nigeria under his management, and the fact that he will ensure that Xechem Nigeria is insulated from Xechem International woes. How then have we arrived at this point? We need someone to enlighten Nigerians on the planned auction of Xechem Nigeria, especially the implications for all of our hopes and aspirations to establish an exemplary biopharmaceutical company for Nigeria. Given that Xechem International has a right to sell whatever property it may own as part of the efforts to sort out the company’s bankruptcy problems, due process demands that Nigerians at home and abroad everywhere should know the circumstances surrounding the sale of Xechem Nigeria and make up their mind to bid or not bid for its purchase.   

It is also a good idea for all Nigerian compatriots to brainstorm on possible actions that must be taken collectively to ensure that Xechem Nigeria fulfills our hopes and aspirations of setting the pace in biopharmaceutical excellence. At least our former President (then number one citizen of Nigeria) felt that Xechem Nigeria was an initiative worthy enough for him to devote precious time and goodwill to launch NICOSAN on July 6, 2006, the product that emanated from the company. The former President was optimistic that Nigerians can match forward with the project. Is there anything we can do as Nigerians to save the trust?

What can you do?
•    Circulate this article widely to your friends including newspaper editors and fellow compatriots at least for the sake of awareness.
•    Encourage those in the position to do so to participate in the bidding process, so we can be sure this biopharmaceutical project ends up in the right hands in Nigeria.
•    Whoever succeeds in the bidding, let him/her seek the cooperation of well meaning Nigerians to work with him/her to develop this biopharmaceutical project into a symbol of pride for Nigeria
•    If you hold a position of authority in Nigeria, please seek audience with the management of Xechem Nigeria to learn how much they know about the auction planned for March 16, 2009 in the United States (Courtroom 682 of the United States Courthouse, 219 S Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA) and who the bidders are. We need assurance that the successful bidder shares in, and is determined, to pursue our vision of building through this project a center of excellence for the biopharmaceutical industry in Nigeria.

The Xechem story: Xechem Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Limited (Xechem Nigeria) was registered in Nigeria in 2002 as a subsidiary of Xechem International, Inc. with headquarters located at New Brunswick Technology Center, 100 Jersey Avenue, Building B-310, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901 USA. The company is engaged in focusing on anticancer, antiviral (including AIDS), antifungal and antibacterial products from natural sources including microbial and marine organisms, herbal-based drug research, development, manufacture and marketing in Nigeria and worldwide.

Location:     Xechem Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Ltd.
Xechem Research Park
Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO)
Technology Park, Sheda,
P. O. Box 200, Gwagwalada, Abuja, NIGERIA
Tel: +234-8066042108, 8072310655, 08057347443
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.xechemnigeria.com

Historical Background: The story of Xechem Nigeria is one that fits perfectly that popular adage: born at the right time, in the right place and for the right purpose! It is one that developed from great minds working together at the beginning with a common goal to impact life of many who have suffered from the agony of the dreaded genetic sickle cell anemia disorder that continues to rob many of the joy of long life and prosperity and indeed snuff life out of many prematurely. The sickle cell disease (SCD) has robbed nations of the much needed contributions of young men and women to buoyant economic growth and development. At the start of the 21st century, there could be no better place for Xechem Nigeria to be born than in Nigeria which produces approximately 40% of SCD sufferers in the world.

Xechem Nigeria came into existence as a spin-off from ongoing collaboration between Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and the (Nigerian) Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) that started in 2000. Shortly after the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) resolved in 2000 to pursue R&D vigorously in biotechnology, a delegation was sent to the United States to explore potential collaborators that would facilitate the implementation of government vision to use biotechnology as a key tool to drive science and technology in the country in the 21st century. At the end of their visit to major universities on the east coast of United States, the delegation recommended Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, as the foremost institution to advance government intentions. The government also resolved that the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO) is the major parastatal in FMST to lead the biotechnology collaboration with Rutgers University.

Prior to this development, Rutgers University and Xechem International, Inc., in New Brunswick, NJ (parent company for Xechem Nigeria), had been collaborating at various levels, specifically in biotechnology. In August 2001, a joint conference on biotechnology was organized at the then Cook College, now School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS), New Brunswick, NJ between SHESTCO and Rutgers University under the leadership of Dr. Soji Adelaja, (then Dean of Research at Cook College and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Cook/NJAES], later Executive Dean) and Dr. Albert Ayeni, (then Weed Scientist at Cook/NJAES; and later Cook/NJAES Coordinator of International Programs). Dr. Ramesh Pandey, then Chairman & CEO, Xechem International, Inc., represented his company at this conference. What transpired during and after the conference propelled Dr. Pandey to explore possibilities in biotechnology in Nigeria. Prof. Turner T. Isoun, then Hon. Minister of Science and Technology invited Dr. Pandey to Nigeria at the end of the 2001 conference. Dr. Pandey honored the invitation and paid his first visit to Nigeria in October 2001 in company of Dr. Albert Ayeni and John Luther Esq, then Xechem Intellectual Property Attorney. During that first visit, Dr. Pandey developed interest in exploring biotechnology in the special area of drug development in Nigeria. The first product of interest was NIPRISAN, which was introduced to Dr. Pandey by Dr. Ayodele Coker, then Director-General, SHESTCO and later by the NIPRD Director General, Dr. Uford Iyang.

Prior to the 2001 biotechnology conference in the United States and the visit to Nigeria in October of the sane year, Dr. Pandey practically had no knowledge of sickle cell anemia. He was astonished to learn from NIPRD of the dimension of SCD in Nigeria and disturbed to learn about the difficulty the institute has had with registering NIPRISAN and making it available to the public for SCD management. In spite of the not-so-favorable Nigerian reputation in the business world, Dr. Pandey promptly took on the challenge to license NIPRISAN and get it to the Nigerian and international market for SCD treatment worldwide. 

After several trips between the United States and Nigeria and many difficult challenges, on July 18, 2002, Dr. Pandey successfully concluded negotiation with NIPRD and the Federal Ministry of Health, on the transfer of exclusive ownership rights for R&D, production and worldwide sales and marketing of NIPRISAN to Xechem International, Inc. Shortly after, the Board of Directors of Xechem International, Inc., agreed to register Xechem Pharmaceutical Nigeria Ltd. in 2002 to develop NIPRISAN (now NICOSANTM) for marketing in Nigeria and worldwide.

From 2001 to 2006, Dr. Pandey pursued vigorously the implementation of the Xechem vision of making NICOSAN™ globally recognized as the solution to SCD, of which Nigeria has about 4 million sufferers out of an estimated 10 million sufferers worldwide.   

Some great minds that must be acknowledged in the Xechem Nigeria story include Chief (General) Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who, after formal briefing on the NICOSANTM project graciously endorsed the establishment of Xechem Nigeria manufacturing plant at SHESTCO, Technology Park, Gwagwalada, FCT. Also, the former Honorable Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Turner T. Isoun deserves commendation for his vision and unalloyed support since 2001. He invited Dr. Pandey to Nigeria with a strong belief that something great is in it for Nigeria. He kept the hope alive throughout his tenure in FMST. The then Honorable Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo also gave unflinching support for the NICOSAN Project. Dr. Charles Wambebe was the Director-General of NIPRD during the years of NIPRISAN development for sickle cell management. He provided the leadership that led to the patenting of NIPRISAN in Nigeria and around the world. Dr. Ayodele Coker, Director-General, SHESTCO, and Dr. Uford Iyang worked very hard to sustain Dr. Pandey’s interest in the NICOSAN™ project and must be commended for their tireless efforts. Several NIPRD and SHESTCO senior and junior staff (too many to list) also contributed immeasurably to the progress with Xechem Nigeria. Nigerians are indebted to these wonderful people for their valuable contributions.

In the United States, Dr. Soji Adelaja, former Executive Dean Cook/NJAES, Rutgers University, now Endowed Professor of Land Use Policy at Michigan State University, was a prime supporter and motivator of the NICOSAN™ project. He accompanied Dr. Pandey to Nigeria many times to help shape Xechem Nigeria and guide its operational strategies. Dr. Albert Ayeni, then Coordinator, Cook/NJAES International Programs, was also a prime supporter and motivator of the NICOSAN™ project. He brought Dr. Pandey to Nigeria for the first time in 2001 and accompanied him to the country many times to offer assistance at various levels. The goodwill of the then Cook/NJAES Administration for the NICOSAN™ project is also acknowledged. Mr. Isaac Inyang, former Senior Accountant/Consultant International Affairs with the New Jersey Commerce Department also offered tremendous services to ensure that the Xechem Nigeria vision became a reality. There are many more one would have an opportunity to mention in the future.

Management: Xechem Nigeria was under the management of Dr. Ramesh C. Pandey from 2002-2006 as Founder and CEO of Xechem International. Mr. Iretiolu Oniyide was appointed in December 2006 to take over as Xechem Pharmaceuticals Nigeria MD and has been managing company affairs ever since.

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