The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has countered claims by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control that the recent implementation of the ban on sachet alcoholic drinks was a collective decision.
Speaking at a press conference held in Lagos on Friday, the Director-General of MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, insisted that members of the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria, a sub-sector under MAN, had repeatedly expressed reservations over the planned implementation of the ban.
NAFDAC had, in a statement released on Thursday, insisted that the ban, which affects alcoholic beverages in sachets and small-volume PET and glass bottles below 200ml, was a collective decision.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, said the ban was a collective recommendation of a committee and listed representatives in the committee as the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC, and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
She said, “It is also important to clarify that the implementation of the ban on alcohol in sachets and small-volume PET and glass bottles was not hasty.
“It is in line with the five-year phase-out plan of the affected presentations of alcoholic beverages, which started in January 2019 and ended on January 31, 2024.
“The five-year period granted to the industry stakeholders was a practical, reasonable, and sufficient time for full compliance with the phase-out of the production of alcoholic beverages in sachets and small-volume PET and glass bottles below 200ml.”
However, Ajayi-Kadir dismissed the claim by the regulator that the decision was a collective one.
According to the MAN DG, notwithstanding its earlier objections (to the immediacy of the ban), Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria participated in the preparation of a Memorandum of Understanding, which was then signed (with evident reservations) on December 18, 2018, between the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC, Consumer Protection Commission (now Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission) and Association of Food, Beverages, and Tobacco Employers and DIBAN to address the concerns raised at the time.
The goal, he said, was to enlighten citizens on responsible consumption, by supporting the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC to undertake the advocacy, messaging, training and education of the public.
Ajayi-Kadir said appropriate consideration was not given to the impact the ban would have on the manufacturers, the workers, the citizenry and the economy.
He claimed the ban, which sought to discourage irresponsible consumption of alcohol, would be counterproductive in the long run because bigger sizes encourage consumption of bigger portions, while small sizes encourage portion control.
He said that rather than ban products within the stipulated category, NAFDAC should intensify its activities and support in the form of access control and tighter regulations.
He said, “This is what the ban is going to wreck for no justifiable reason. It must be explicitly stated that moderation and responsible drinking promote good health. Small is good, if you buy small, you will consume a small.
“If you buy big, you will consume big; this is not healthy. Bigger sizes encourage the consumption of bigger portions, while small sizes encourage portion control. If you take away small sizes, you are encouraging excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
“To go ahead with the policy based on perceived danger, without empirical information and not minding the consequences, unfair to the industry operators and the thousands of workers that will lose their jobs and inimical to the Nigerian economy.”
The MAN DG also called on NAFDAC to encourage collaborative efforts to eliminate underage drinking or the use of alcoholic beverages.
Meanwhile, members of the Trade Union Congress protested on Friday against the ban on sachet alcoholic drinks imposed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration.
The TUC, alongside some of the affected businesses, took to the streets of Obafemi Awolowo Way in Ikeja, Lagos State, to demonstrate against the recently implemented ban.
The protesters, who carried placards indicating their grievance, said the ban had rendered them jobless.