A civil rights group, Concerned Citizens of Nigeria (CCN), on Wednesday, staged a peaceful protest in Abuja, to register their displeasure with the decision of the National Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), to enforce the ban of production of alcohol in sachets and mini bottles.
The enforcement, perhaps, followed the expiration of five year window provided by NAFDAC and FCCPC, for the manufacturers of the alcohol to quit packaging the products in sachet and mini bottles, and migrate to larger containers.
Convener, Comrade Peter Harry, told journalists at the protest ground in Abuja, on Wednesday, that they are concerned by the effect of the decision of NAFDAC on the economy of Nigeria, job losses along the value chain, fate of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and consumers too.
He appealed to the relevant authorities, particularly the NAFDAC and FCCPC, to heed the advice of the National Assembly to suspend decision on the ban till further notice.
He also asked for other interventions on the matter to salvage the ailing Nigerian economy which members of Distillers and Beverages Association of Nigeria (DABAN), and other beneficiaries along the value chain are major players.
He, however, confirmed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Federal Ministry of Health; NAFDAC; FCCPC; Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employees (AFBTE) and DABAN, in 2018, to ban the packaging of high strength alcohol in sachets and small volume pets, with effect from 31st of January, 2024, but their findings indicated that the agreement was signed under duress, hence it should be disregarded.
“Besides, the lawmakers have given an order to NAFDAC to halt implementation of the decision. One could only imagine millions of jobs that would be lost to this ban if it were to be, except that alcohol is after all, not a contraband product.
“However, the ban which defiles all legal considerations is deemed null and void, unconstitutional, uncontemplatable and of no consequence. The primary rationale given for the ban is to discourage and reduce the abuse of alcohol by the youths, under-aged and some motorist, as well as reducing the environmental pollution impacts of the plastics and polythene wastes materials. These identified challenges can better be addressed in a more better way,” he said.
He, however, suggested an increased awareness about the hazards of alcohol abuse to human health with its attendant social vices. “This can be done by causing the producers to expose the dangers associated with the abuse of this product, by boldly printing and enumerating them on the packs, as it is done in the case of tobacco.
“In addition to that, government regulatory bodies should place more emphasis on regulation, monitoring and enlightenment, to educate the stakeholders and the public on the dangers of underaged consumption of alcohol and its sale in the motor packs.
“Other solutions are embarking on massive enlightenment campaign against alcohol abuse; strengthening of regulatory mechanism to ensure enforcement and compliance; collaborating with NURTW, FRSC, faith-based organisations in creating awareness on the dangers and vices associated with the abuse of alcohol; enlightenment campaign to secondary schools across the country, such as being done by NDLEA, to educate students on the dangers of alcohol abuse.
“There should also be stronger collaboration between government regulatory agencies for better result; identifying factors that could enhance irresponsible consumption of alcoholic beverages; identifying factors responsible for the under-aged drinking in Nigeria; as well as strengthening implementation structures through effective collaboration to ensure sustainability, regulating alcohol advertisement, among others.”
On the environmental impact, the Group insisted that alcohol sachets and pets packages constitute a minute percentage of the total waste released by the total packaged products across the country contrary to the information provided by some individuals and groups.