NAFDAC, Reps Lift Ban On Sale Of Sachet Alcohol Drinks

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After months of placing an embargo on the sale and consumption of sachet alcoholic beverages in Nigeria, the House of Representatives and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have lifted the ban.
While announcing this in Abuja, Deputy spokesperson for the House, Hon. Philip Agbese said the sales will remain in effect until the economy recovers from the current downturn.
He added that the decision to temporarily lift the ban was reached following a meeting between the House Committee and NAFDAC officials.
According to him, “During the meeting, we all agreed that, at a certain point in history, it is essential to advance alongside our global counterparts. However, we also concurred with NAFDAC that there would be a temporary lifting of the ban until the economy recovers its strength.”
“There was a motion before the parliament to investigate the activities that led to the ban placed by NAFDAC on the use and sale of sachet beverages in the country. In its wisdom, the parliament delegated the House Committee on NAFDAC, led by Hon. Regina Akume, to investigate the matter and report back. The committee dutifully carried out its legislative function as mandated.
“We engaged with various stakeholders, including NAFDAC and the organized private sector. During our meeting, resolutions were reached based on submissions from stakeholders, civil society organizations, and other interested parties.
“The recommendations presented to parliament included the view that the ban was untimely given the current economic realities. The five-year moratorium granted by NAFDAC, the impact of COVID-19, and other ongoing economic challenges have made it difficult for industry operators to comply with the terms.”
“After that, the parliament in its wisdom adopted the House Committee Report as a whole. Following the questions we received yesterday (Thursday) after the final meeting we had with the leadership of NAFDAC headed by Prof Mojisola Adeyeye; we all agreed as a government, parliament at one end and the executive in charge of that agency to, in the interest of the masses of our country and the mood of the nation, that the ban be suspended.”
He explained that the modalities for lifting the ban will be publicly announced by July. He stated, ‘We have agreed to convene in July to finalize the details, with NAFDAC’s Director General expected to have outlined the temporary removal process by then.”
The lawmaker dismissed the idea that lifting the ban could lead to increased health risks associated with the sale and consumption of alcohol in small sachets.
He pointed out that cigarette packets display warnings in multiple languages indicating the health risks of smoking. Despite this, many people continue to purchase and smoke cigarettes. He emphasized that adults have the right to decide what they consume, citing it as a fundamental human right.
“I find it hypocritical to suggest that consuming the same content from sachet drinks versus bottles has vastly different health implications, when in reality, the differences appear to be very mild.”
He further stressed that the opposition to the ban was fueled in part by low-income earners who felt that NAFDAC had violated their fundamental human rights.
“In the presentations we received during the briefing, individuals earning lower incomes highlighted fundamental human rights issues, including discrimination, harassment, and victimization. If everyone has the right to choose and purchase gourmet bread with butter at supermarkets, we should similarly ensure that everyone can afford their basic necessities, like Agege bread.”
“We are aligned with NAFDAC now. The health concerns weren’t why the ban was imposed. Regarding children drinking sachet drinks, what about codeine and other cough syrups consumed by wealthy children? They’re still available in pharmacies without bans. This policy seems unfairly aimed at the poor,” Agbese expressed concern.”
It could also be recalled that the House of Representatives, on February 7, 2024, directed its committee on NAFDAC to investigate the circumstances surrounding the agency’s ban on the production of alcoholic beverages in sachets and small bottles in Nigeria.

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