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Protest looms over NAFDAC’s ban of sachet alcohol nationwide

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Protest looms over NAFDAC’s ban of sachet alcohol nationwide

The House of Representatives has instructed its committee on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control to investigate the circumstances surrounding the ban imposed on the production of beverages in sachets and small bottles by the agency.

This came after a motion was put forward on the floor of the Green Chamber by Paschal Agbese during Wednesday’s plenary.

The Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria has expressed its intention to take their concerns to the National Assembly regarding this issue.

NAFDAC’s Director General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, had recently announced the agency’s plans to enforce the ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.

In response to this, members of the DBAN protested at the Lagos office of NAFDAC on Tuesday to voice their opposition to the ban.

Both the Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association and the National Union of Food Beverages and Tobacco Employees have rejected the plan, citing concerns about potential job losses.

Joining the conversation, the Vice Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Lagos Chapter, Emmanuel Edoghe, emphasized the importance of NAFDAC reconsidering its decision on the ban.

He brought attention to the fact that these companies complied with NAFDAC’s regulations when they were granted their production licenses.

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“We bought the machines and materials certified by Standards Organisation of Nigeria. The complaint was that children and taxi drivers are taking the drinks but they did not consider the purchasing power of the public because the economy of Nigeria is tense at this time.

“Now, they shut down factories and about five million workers are going to be out of job, directly and indirectly.”

Leading the debate on the issue on Wednesday at the House of Assembly, Agbbodike said Section 88(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution empowered the National Assembly to conduct to look into such an issue, given its potential impact on the economy.

He said, “NAFDAC had announced its decision to stop the registration of beverages in small sachets and bottles in January 2024 while the Director General of the agency informed the public that the agency would ensure that the validity of renewal of already registered products would not exceed January 2024.

“The decision to ban the registration of beverages in small sachets and bottles runs counter to the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and runs against the Economic Recovery Plan of the current administration.”

According to him, the House is worried that given the numerous economic challenges confronting poor Nigerians, “the ban on the production of the said beverages will wreak more havoc and cause job losses for over 50 per cent of the workers in Nigeria.”

“The need to encourage the sustainability of Small and Medium Enterprises, which are the greatest employer of labour in Nigeria, employing over 84 per cent of the workforce in Nigeria, NAFDAC’s policy to place a ban on the production of beverages in small sachets and bottles will be counterproductive.

“The decision to place a ban on the production of beverages in small sachets and bottles will encourage unscrupulous elements to go about the production of such drinks and products without recourse to NAFDAC.

He further explained that the ban on the registration of beverages in small sachets and bottles will worsen the poverty situation in the country.

The motion was subsequently referred to the Committee on NAFDAC for further legislative input.

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