The Trade Union Congress and Food, Beverages and Tobacco Senior Staff Association on Tuesday held a peaceful protest against the National Agency Food and Drug Administration Control’s directive to shut down companies manufacturing alcoholic sachet drinks.
The protest took place in front of NAFDAC’s office at Plot 1, Industrial Estate, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Isolo, Lagos State.
NAFDAC in 2018, had given a directive to stop the production of alcoholic beverages and drinks in sachets and bottles below 200ml with effect from Jan. 31, 2024.
Also, NAFDAC had in January 2022 suspended the registration of alcoholic beverages in sachet as well as small volume PET and glass bottles below 200ml.
This led to a two-day enforcement exercise which was recently carried out in Ota, Ogun State, leading to the shutting down of some factories.
The Vice-President of TUC, Emmanuel Idogen, said that a lot of people had already been rendered jobless from the factories shut down by the regulatory agency .
Idogen said that though he was not against NAFDAC carrying out their duty, but to shut down the livelihood of thousands of people at a time of economic hardship was inhumane.
“We all know the economic hardship we are facing in the country presently. Price of fuel has increased, prices of food are increasing on a daily basis and there is inflation.
“Some of the people earn their living to feed their family and dependents from the factory that you have shut down.
“Invariably, there will be more families exposed to hunger and I believe this will have a negative impact on the society,” he said.
The vice-president said that many companies in the country, as a result of the harsh economic indices of doing business, had been under strain due to limited available jobs.
“And now, you want to lay off thousands of workers into the labour market that is already overstretched.
“What do you expect them to do in order to feed and cater for the needs of their family?
“We are appealing to NAFDAC to suspend the directive to shut down the production of alcoholic sachets drinks for the posterity of the masses,” he said.
Idogen said that the Lagos State government raised the motion that alcoholic sachets were the cause of blocked drainage systems in the state.
“What about others like nylon bags, plastic bottles and other things blocking the drainages.
“To label alcoholic sachets as the sole contributor to the blockages of drainage would be unfair,” he said.
The vice-president also said that alcoholic sachet drinks was affordable and economical in quantity for those that don’t have enough money but still wanted to enjoy alcohol consumption.
“When you talk about the purchasing power of the masses, sachet alcoholic beverages are still more available for easy purchase.
“It is not everyone that has money to buy the expensive bottle so why are you trying to make life difficult for the common man on the street?” Idogen said.
Similarly, the Secretary of FOBTOB, Anthony Oyagua, said that no fewer than 5,000 members had been put out of jobs and sent into the labour market.
“The labour market is already saturated and you have piled more problems on our nation’s economy by sending more people into that same market.
“This does not represent President Bola Tinubu’s agenda for the renewed hope,” he said.
Oyagua said that the action would affect workers, suppliers, customers and most especially the local, state and federal government whose revenue drive will also drop in tune of billions of naira.
“We appeal to NAFDAC to help take a second look at this policy of government and help save our industry from imminent collapse and protect the jobs of millions of Nigerians nationwide,” he said.
The Director, Drug and Evaluation Research, NAFDAC, Kayode Amuda, said that the agency’s focus was to shut down the alcoholic line production because of its negative effects on the society.
“Our critical focus is to protect the health of the nation because a lot of our children and youths have been made redundant as a result of easy access to these sachet drinks.
“We have been on the front burner of this message for long and have been telling the manufacturers about this impending change but we keep on shifting the goal post.
“However, we have to take a step toward enforcement and address this because it is ruining the life of our children and youths in the country.
“Our focus in NAFDAC is to put a stop to the production of alcoholic sachet beverages,” the NAFDAC representative said.