Reps Intervene As MAN Backs DIBAN Against NAFDAC On Ban of Sachet Alcoholic Beverages

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The House of Representatives has said the decision to ban spirit drinks in sachets and PET bottles less than 200ml contradicted the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and against the economic recovery plan of the current administration to encourage the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which are the greatest employer of labour in Nigeria with over 84 percent of the workforce in the country.

The federal lawmakers stated that given the numerous economic challenges confronting poor Nigerians, the ban by NAFDAC will wreak havoc and cause job losses for over 50 percent of the workers in Nigeria, adding that the policy will be counterproductive.

Consequently, the House has mandated its Committee on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to investigate the basis and circumstances surrounding the ban imposed on the production of beverages in sachets and small bottles in Nigeria by the agency and call for it to be put on hold for being against the letter and spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

NAFDAC had earlier this week, citing negative effects on underage children as among the reasons, announced its enforcement of the ban on sachet spirit from February 1, after the expiration of the 5-year window given to the manufacturers which started in 2019 and ended January 1, 2024.

Its Director-General, Mojisola Adeyeye said the ban was not a sudden development but the outcome of the work of a multilateral committee that agreed that the ban would be in phases whereby production would be reduced by 50 percent by 2020 while an outright ban would be on January 31, 2024. Owing to this, Adeyeye said NAFDAC did not issue a renewal licence beyond January 2024 to any company producing the drinks in a sachet.

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The lawmakers’ position is trailed by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) which has raised concerns, stating that critical stakeholders including key members of the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN) also raised concerns in a letter dated 6th November 2018.

MAN, in a reaction signed by its Director-General, Segun Ajayi-Kadir said the association in the letter had punctured NAFDAC’s assertion that sachets spirits and PET bottles are responsible for the reported increase of alcohol use among the underage but a reflection of a systemic problem of much wider ramifications; and also that the alleged increase in the use of hard drugs to the production and sales of alcoholic drinks in sachets and small PET bottles is incorrect as there was no scientific or other studies have proven this claim.

In the alternative to the ban which will be counterproductive, MAN urges the government to intensify its activities and support in the form of access control and tighter regulations, as it advised that the ban should be reversed immediately and replaced with regulations and access control such as the Establishment of licensed liquor stores/outlets by LGAs across the country, Suspected underage persons (under 18) should be required to show I.D to purchase alcoholic beverages as practised in some other climes; and tightening enforcement by law enforcement agencies in addition to increased monitoring and compliance checks by NAFDAC, FCCPC and others to ensure strict product quality in terms of content and safety.