Alcohol ban: Manufacturers say 25 companies may close shop

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN) have said at least 25 companies may be forced to close shop if President Bola Tinubu does not reverse the ban on alcoholic beverages in sachets and pet bottles less than 200ml by the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

NAFDAC said the ban is in line with an agreement reached by a tripartite committee set up in 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Health.

The two groups said this at a joint news conference in Lagos on Friday where they expressed their opposition to the ban imposed on the production of alcoholic beverages in sachets and pet bottles of less than 200ml, with effect Jan. 31. 2024

But speaking at the press conference in Lagos, Executive Secretary of DIBAN, Mr John Ichue, said the ban must be reversed to avert colossal loss on investments in machines, raw materials and financial resources.

He added that 5.5 million people, directly and indirectly, earning their livelihood from the business will also be negatively affected by the ban.

He also said the ban may result in a loss of over N800 billion in investments across the value chain.

Ichue said manufacturers have great respect for NAFDAC; hence, there is a need to reach a common ground to address the issue of underage consumption of alcoholic beverages and business concerns of players in the wine and spirits sector.

“Some of the money invested in the sector was borrowed from banks, and many of the companies have procured raw materials that would last them for the next four or five years.

“More than 25 companies in the wine and spirits sector in the country may be forced to close shop if President Bola Tinubu does not intervene in reversing the ban,” he said.

The Chairman of DIBAN, Mr Patrick Anegbe, said that the association had always preached responsible drinking and had mounted media campaigns on radio and television, kicking against underage consumption of alcoholic beverages in sachets.

Anegbe, also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Intercontinental Distillers, said that DIBAN was concerned about the health of underage consumers of alcoholic beverages.

He, however, said that the elimination of underage consumption of alcoholic beverages could be achieved through access control rather than outright ban.

“Through access control mechanism, the underage will be safeguarded, businesses will remain and our members and suppliers in the value chains in the sector will retain their jobs.

“I call on the president to intervene immediately; otherwise, many jobs are on the line,” he said.

He appealed to Tinubu to consider those who had heavily invested in the sector.

The CEO of Stellar Beverage, Mr Gandhi Anandan, said that the ban might trigger irresponsible drinking and make consumers drink heavily if they could not have access to smaller quantities.

“While alcohol, like any other product, must be consumed in moderation, if we take away the size from responsible drinking, we are not being fair to anyone,” he said.

Mr Wale Majaolagbe, CEO of Grand Oak Industries, said that distilled wine and spirits had not been pinned down as causes of death of any individual.

“NAFDAC should not be insensitive to the hardship Nigerians are going through by imposing this ban,” Majaolagbe said.

Earlier, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director-General of MAN, said that the association was deeply concerned about the ban.

Ajayi-Kadir said that the bank would impact negatively manufacturers, workers, the citizenry, and the economy.

He said that following previous concerns, stakeholders collaborated to enlighten citizens on responsible consumption by supporting the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC to undertake advocacy, messaging, training and education of the public.

He said that during the period, DIBAN spent over one billion naira on campaigns to ensure zero consumption of alcoholic beverages by underage and promote responsible use among adults.

“Furthermore strategic moves were made to identify factors that affect irresponsible consumption of alcoholic beverages and identify factors responsible for underage drinking in Nigeria.

“We also moved to implement strategies guided by best global practices and national priorities towards strengthening regulatory activities (e.g. access control) and strengthening implementation structures through effective collaboration to ensure sustainability.

“Prior to the investments made by companies in the packaging, distribution, logistics and advertisement of their products, necessary approval was obtained.

“Government must be seen to promote and protect the growth of local industries and jobs and tackle fake, counterfeit and unwholesome alcoholic beverages,” he said.

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