The move made by the Federal Government through the National Agency for Foods and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to ban the manufacture, distribution and sales of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below has sparked off protests from the stakeholders.
The Stakeholders that have openly protested the ban include the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria and concerned citizens represented by the Food Beverages and Tobacco Senior Staff Association and National Union of Food Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) as they stormed the NAFDAC Complex office, Isolo, Lagos in thousands on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 carrying placards with various inscriptions condemning the ban.
One of the primary concerns voiced by protesters is the staggering impact on employment as they said with over a million jobs at stake, the ban threatens the livelihoods of countless breadwinners who rely on the alcoholic beverage industry for their income.
Speaking with journalists, one of the protesters, Adeolu Badejoko said in a country already grappling with high unemployment rates, the move by the NAFDAC risks exacerbating the job crisis and pushing even more individuals into the oversaturated Nigerian labour market.
“Beyond the immediate economic repercussions, there is a genuine fear that the ban could inadvertently contribute to an increase in criminal activities, such as kidnapping and robbery”, he said.
He said the unemployment has long been identified as a catalyst for crime, and removing a significant source of employment could potentially drive desperate individuals towards illicit means to sustain themselves and their families.
Another protester, Muideen Kolawole said the government must carefully consider the broader societal implications before implementing a measure that might inadvertently compromise public safety.
He said the ban may have adverse effects on the informal economy, where many small-scale businesses operate within the alcoholic beverage sector.
“These businesses, often run by local entrepreneurs, contribute to the economic fabric of communities and provide a source of income for numerous families. Disrupting this ecosystem without adequate alternatives could lead to a domino effect, impacting various sectors connected to the alcoholic beverage industry.
A Public Affairs analyst based in Lagos, Comrade Ojo Olorunmola said while NAFDAC’s intention to regulate and ensure public health is commendable, it is essential to strike a balance between achieving regulatory goals and safeguarding economic stability.
He posted that rather than an outright ban, a collaborative approach involving industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and the government could be explored.
“Government’s blanket ban is not in the interest of the masses especially workers in the alcoholic beverages industries and petty traders and distributors who earn their living through the banned products.
“There should be a mitigating measures against unemployment before government can take such harsh decision. There is high unemployment rates in the land, government should create enabling environment for job creation before such decision.
“I call on the Federal Government to reverse the decision and ensure that the suffering masses are not further suffocated.
“Government should equip NAFDAC and Environmental officers to be up and doing in enforcing the necessary regulations guiding the production and distribution of the alcoholic beverages rather than ban the products.
“This would allow for the development of comprehensive regulations that address health concerns while preserving jobs and mitigating potential social consequences.
“It is very obvious that the ban on alcoholic drinks in sachets proposed by NAFDAC has sparked legitimate concerns regarding unemployment and its potential contribution to increased criminal activities.
“As the government contemplates regulatory measures, a holistic and consultative approach is imperative. Striking a balance between public health and economic stability will ensure a more sustainable and effective solution for all stakeholders involved”, Olorunmola said.
Lagos Post Online