Producers, workers protest ban of sachet alcoholic drinks
By Femi Akinola
Barely twenty four hours after the Federal Government banned sales and consumption of all types of alcoholic drinks in sachet, scores of owners and workers of the companies that produce the banned alcoholic products stormed the headquarters of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Lagos, and staged a peaceful protest.
The protesting manufacturers and workers of the banned products protest under the umbrella of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association and National Union of Food Beverages and Tobacco Employees.
They displayed different placards on which various messages were written against the ban of their products. They want the ban lifted as quickly as possible.
The protesting people sang different solidarity songs in in support of continuation production of the banned products just as they claimed that should the ban stays as pronounced by the NAFDAC boss, over 500,000 people will be thrown into the job market.
They choruses in unison that the move by the Federal Government will crippled the sector and it will also lead to economic losses for their workers and distributors. The protesters noted that in the coming weeks, the adverse effects on producers of the banned drinks in sachet will be unbearable fir both the producers, workers and retailers.
They demanded that government should come up with stringent regulatory and quality control policies put in place to take care of people who are producing fake drinks including those who trade in adulterated drinks.
They argued that by doing that, there will be no room for adulteration of standard drinks that pass through quality control mechanism.
The Vice Chairman, Lagos Council of NUFBTE, Comrade Emmanuel Idogien, in a press statement made available to news men after the protest said the impact of the policy on families and economy in general will be severe if not properly checked.
Part of the statement read thus: “As we speak, over 500,000 persons are on the verge of losing their jobs as a result of the move by NAFDAC. Already, many companies supplying raw materials to the industry are feeling the heat. Production has stopped in many places and this is a dangerous situation for us, the workers, who have families to feed and cater for.”
Idogien stressed further saying, “ We are not against NAFDAC safeguarding the health of Nigerians. What we are saying is that rather than throwing away the baby along with the bathwater, new strategies can be adopted by the agency to regulate and monitor quality control in the industry. This will sanitize the system and ensure the safety of consumers as intended.”
He however, noted that if the ban on sachet drinks by NAFDAC is uphold and enforced outrightly, government will indirectly empower counterfeiters to run riot and put people’s health at risk, apart from attended job losses.
He called on NAFDAC to rescind the decision on total ban because of the far-reaching implications.
NAFDAC has on Monday, through its Director-General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, announced that enforcement will begin on the ban on importation, manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET and bottles of 200ml and below as a result of the non-registration of such products by the agency.