The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN) have said that investments worth over ₦800 billion may be lost if the ban placed on alcoholic beverages in sachets and pet bottles not less than 200ml by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is allowed to stand.
They disclosed this yesterday during a joint press conference on the ban held at MAN House, Ikeja, Lagos State. To avert this colossal loss on investment in machines, raw materials, and finances, they called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to prevail on the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, to reverse the ban and save the jobs of 5.5 million direct and indirect people currently earning their livelihood from the business.
They argued that they were not in any way fighting NAFDAC, noting that they needed to reach a common ground to address both the health of the underage and the business concerns in the wine and spirits sector.
Executive Secretary of DIBAN, John Ichue, said investors in the sector had put over ₦800 billion into the business, and “there are 5.5 million direct and indirect jobs that are in jeopardy if the ban by NAFDAC is allowed to stay.”
He said that some of the investments were loans from banks, adding that many of them had procured raw materials that would last them for the next four to five years.
He said over 25 companies in the wine and spirits sector in the country may be forced to close shop if the President fails to reverse the ban.
On his part, Chairman of DIBAN, Patrick Anegbe, who is also the CEO of Intercontinental Distillers, said they have always preached responsible drinking, adding that they undertake media campaigns on radio and TV to kick against underage drinking.
He noted that they were on the same page with NAFDAC on the issue of underage drinking, stating that the same objective could be achieved through access control rather than an outright ban.
“Through access control mechanism, underage will be safeguarded, businesses will remain and our members and suppliers in the value chains in the sector will retain their jobs. I also call on the President to intervene immediately otherwise many jobs are on the line. Some of us have invested heavily in the sector over the years,” he said.
Also expressing anger over the ban, the CEO of Stellar Beverage, Gandhi Anandan, noted that the ban was misplaced because “it may trigger irresponsible drinking as NAFDAC banned alcoholic beverages in sachets and pet bottles not less than 200ml but encourages those in 200ml and above.”
While he agreed that alcohol, like any other product, must be consumed in moderation, he added that “if we take away the size from responsible drinking, we are not being fair to anyone and this ban is unfounded and unfair.”
Speaking in the same vein, the CEO of Grand Oak Industries, Wale Majolagbe, stated that distilled wines and spirits had not been revealed as leading to the death of anyone even though people had reportedly died from consuming non-distilled drinks. He accused NAFDAC of being insensitive to the hardship Nigerians were going through.
“What would happen to the investments manufacturers have made? The machines used for the production of these products cannot be used for other products. The President should stop NAFDAC because the ban is not giving the government a good image,” he said.
Yesterday, angry protesters took to major streets in Ikeja, Lagos, to express their disappointment over the ban. Comprising workers from the Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association and the National Union of Food Beverages and Tobacco Employees, they held placards with different inscriptions as they marched through the streets and later converged on the MAN building in Ikeja.
They condemned the ban, describing it as inhumane and likely to throw many workers into the job market. Speaking at the MAN House, MAN DG, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, lamented that consideration was not given to the impact the move would have on manufacturers, their workers, Nigerians, and the economy as a whole.