…Says itâ€™s another White Elephant project
By Sola Ogundipe
The proposed inauguration of a Food Commission through a private memberâ€™s Bill at the Federal House of Representatives has drawn criticism from theÂ Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).
PSN National President, PharmÂ Azubike Okwor, in a statement noted that although on face value the proposal looks attractive, it was â€œseriously and fundamentally flawedâ€ Okwor, in the statement noted that â€œIt is more responsible and reliable to depend on a system that guarantees delivery rather than one that is unsustainable.â€
His words: â€œThe PSN admonishes the National Assembly on the need to tread cautiously in evaluating the desire for a new Food Commission. The proposal will most likely amount to another White Elephant project. It is both unnecessary and diversionary at a time the main issue should revolve around putting the right people in charge of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC),Â to sustain the effort of its past leaders.â€
He saidÂ NAFDAC is today a strong national institution because of the track record of its Director General/CEO in the era between 2001 and 2008.
â€œThis type of virile and vibrant institution cannot be replaced by a thin structure with self serving objectives if performance is the yardstick.â€
He argued that globally, a recognised convention is to have the same regulatory agency streamlining activities in the food and drug sector in many countries of the world.
â€œThis is the trend from the United States of America, United Kingdom and even some of our West African neighbours like Ghana. The beauty of this structure is that it encourages easier logistics in the entire regulatory process in the food and drug sector.
â€œAt a time the Nigerian economy appears to be contending with a lot of hiccups, funding will be a major challenge for a proposed new commission when even older agencies continue to struggle to meet financial commitments. It must also be stressed that international funding from donor agencies cannot be guaranteed in a new commission when compared to a strong institution like NAFDAC which has built substantial goodwill overtime.
He said the notion that a proposed Food Commission can serve as an effective check against the outbreak of food and water related epidemics is misplaced as whatever the structure is being conceived to do, already exists through the network of food inspectors at NAFDAC. â€œThe outbreak of food and water related epidemics remains a fundamental problem arising from factors like the neglect of Primary Healthcare, poor infrastructural development at grassroot levels and other fallouts of a systemic failure at all tiers of government in Nigeria,â€ he noted.