Editorial

June 25, 2024

NAFDAC’s ban on sachet alcohol

NAFDAC warns Kebbi manufacturers against use of cancerous chemicals on consumables

Unless wise counsel prevails, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, may begin its threatened nationwide enforcement of its ban of sachet alcohol.

This will be in total negation of the compromise brokered by the House of Representatives between the Agency and industry stakeholders in February 2024, whereby a five-year moratorium was agreed before the ban could be possibly activated.

The Green Chamber of the Federal parliament had waded into the thorny issue in response to the outcry by sachet alcohol manufacturers and merchants, who emphasised that it would negatively affect their operations and lead to massive job losses.

The resort to miniaturisation of product sizes such as sachet alcohol, was a survival measure that Nigerian manufacturers settled for, to continue making their products accessible to the poor masses.

This trend became more visible after the COVID-19 pandemic which imposed heavy tolls on the economies of countries, industries and consumers, especially the poor. The situation was compounded over the past year when draconian economic policies drove prices beyond the reach of the average Nigerian. Miniaturisation has even been extended to staples like yams. Sellers now slice yams into smaller pieces to enable people who cannot afford whole tubers to buy in slices. How else could people cope with this hunger?

We suspect that people who for selfish reasons are biased against alcoholic beverages have seen an opportunity to vent their malice without considering the wider economic implications of an outright ban on sales of alcoholic drinks in sachets. May we remind such people that alcohol production and consumption are not against the laws of Nigeria.

Banning any size of its package is a violation of the right of Nigerians to buy and consume any size of alcoholic beverage of their choice. It is also a sabotage of our national economy, and must be dropped forthwith. Why should it be okay for a person to buy a bottle of alcoholic beverage and illegal to purchase the same product in a sachet?

It is understandable to restrict the sale and consumption of alcohol in motor-parks. But even this cannot stop a commercial driver who is determined to abuse alcohol from doing so. There are many ways to kill a rat.

In more advanced countries, law enforcement agents use equipment, such as breathalysers, to detect alcohol on the breaths of drivers and take appropriate measures under the law. All these unchewed and improperly-analysed “bans” are impulsive resorts to military mentality. Governance is not a military operation.

Law making and implementation must target the best good of the greatest number of the people. We can control alcohol abuse, especially by drivers, while still allowing the industry to boom for our overall economic well-being. That should be NAFDAC’s objective.

NAFDAC must be called to order!