A notable coalition of civil society organizations made their grievances known on Wednesday by staging a protest at the National Assembly over the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control‘s (NAFDAC) recent prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages in sachets.
The protest, orchestrated by the Coalition Against Economic Saboteurs, saw participants bearing placards with the message, ‘Let The Poor Live,’ signifying their opposition to the ban.
Adam Matazu, speaking on behalf of the coalition, vehemently criticized the decision by NAFDAC, particularly targeting the agency’s Director-General, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, for what he described as “anti-people policies.”
The protestors demanded the immediate removal of Prof. Adeyeye, accusing her of implementing measures detrimental to the well-being of the less privileged and the economic landscape.
The groups argue that the ban on sachet alcoholic beverages could precipitate adverse economic consequences, potentially leading to the closure of industries engaged in the production of these items.
They contend that such a policy would not only exacerbate the existing challenges within the Nigerian economy but also jeopardize the livelihoods of those dependent on the sector for employment and income.
Moreover, the protestors raised allegations against multinationals, accusing them of leveraging Prof. Adeyeye to undermine small businesses and local manufacturers.
Matazu said, “Today, we address a matter of grave concern, the recent decision by the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control, Prof Moji Adeyeye, to ban the sale of beverages in small sachets.
“We view this policy as a direct assault on the livelihoods of millions of Nigerians, a move that will not only put countless citizens out of work but also exacerbate the existing problems of insecurity and unemployment in our nation.
“We strongly condemn this ill-thought-out policy, which seems disconnected from the realities faced by the ordinary Nigerian citizens.
“NAFDAC leadership abandoned their core responsibility of focusing on issues that truly threaten the well-being of our people, such as the inflow of fake and substandard drugs, we find the Director General choosing to target a sector that provides employment for many Nigerians and serves the needs of millions of families.”
Matazu added, “Prof Moji Adeyeye’s tenure at NAFDAC has, regrettably, been marked by disappointments and failures to deliver the desired results.
“Rather than ensuring the safety of our food and drugs, we have witnessed a surge in counterfeit beverages, creating a pervasive doubt about the authenticity of what our citizens consume.”
Another speaker, Ben Omale, also called on all stakeholders to unite against the leadership of Adeyeye.
He said, “We demand her immediate suspension from office by the President to avert further damage to our economy by causing job losses, and business closures.
“It is imperative that NAFDAC should be led by someone who prioritises the real issues affecting our nation’s health and economic stability.”
NAFDAC had on Monday announced the enforcement of the ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.
Adeyeye said, “As of January 31, 2024, there is no alcoholic beverage in these categories registered by NAFDAC. I also want to inform you that the agency has started enforcement actions to enforce the implementation of this policy.
“The window period given to manufacturers by NAFDAC to sell off all alcoholic drinks in this category elapsed on January 31, 2024.
“To this end on the first day, after the elapse of the window period, the agency commenced nationwide enforcement actions on February 1, 2024 to enforce the implementation of the new policy.”