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Let Us Breathe! - Labour Union protests at NAFDAC office over ban on sachet alcoholic beverages
 
By: Abara Blessing Oluchi
Wed, 7 Feb 2024   ||   Nigeria,
 

The Organised Labour on Tuesday, stormed the office of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, in Lagos State to protest the ban and shut down of production lines of companies manufacturing alcoholic drinks in sachets and small bottles below 200ml.

Led by leaders of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria and the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), Labour rejected the ban on the production of alcoholic beverages in sachets and small bottles by the Federal Government, saying no fewer than 45,000 jobs and billions of Naira investments are at the risk of going down the drain.

The protesting workers, who stormed NAFDAC’s office at Plot 1, Industrial Estate, Apapa-Oshodi expressway, Isolo, Lagos State, displayed placards with various inscriptions, to convey their grievances.

“NAFDAC, let us breathe,” one placard reads.

“Most of our jobs are at stake,” Olamide Somefun, Vice Chairman, Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association, Ota, Ogun State, said. “Many companies will fold up, especially those local industries that serve as raw materials to the producers.”

The protest comes after NAFDAC, led by its director-general Mojisola Adeyeye, announced the enforcement of the ban on February 1st, 2024.

The agency issued a five-year phase-out notice in 2019, aiming to completely eliminate these small-sized alcoholic beverages due to concerns about their accessibility to underage drinkers.

“The drinks come in pocket-friendly sizes, accessible and affordable,” Prof. Adeyeye explained at a press conference in Abuja. “Children easily fall for the packages, only to face the consequences in the future.”

However, NUFBTE members expressed their worries about the economic repercussions of the ban. “This is not just about our jobs,” another protester told local media. “It’s about the livelihoods of many families who depend on these industries.”

The ban had been agreed upon by a multi-agency committee in 2018, outlining a gradual reduction in production before the complete phase-out in 2024. NAFDAC emphasised that they had adhered to the agreed-upon timeline and did not renew any licenses for the banned products after January 2024.

 

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