Workers in the food, beverage, and tobacco sector rallied in Lagos, expressing concern over imminent job losses due to the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control’s ban on sachet alcoholic drinks.
Organized by the Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Senior Staff Association and National Union of Food Beverages and Tobacco Employees, the protesters highlighted economic setbacks caused by NAFDAC’s decision.
They advocated for alternative regulatory measures, suggesting that stringent quality controls would be more effective than an outright ban. Additionally, they warned that the ban might empower counterfeiters, posing a potential risk to the health of Nigerians.
In a statement released after the protest, Vice Chairman, Lagos Council of NUFBTE, Comrade Emmanuel Idogien, said the impact of the policy on families and economy in general will be severe if not properly checked.
He said, “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 to.
“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.
“But if this ban is enforced outrightly, apart from the massive job losses, we would have empowered counterfeiters to now run riot and put the health of everyone at risk.
“We are therefore calling on NAFDAC to rescind the decision on total ban because of the far-reaching implications.
“There is hardship in the country already, Nigeria cannot afford to have over half of a million people thrown out of employment at once. Let us think about the dependents of these workers who will suffer greatly if this situation persists. We must not allow this.”
NAFDAC through its Director-General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, on Monday 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.