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Rejoinder: Ban On Sachet Alcohol Is In Order – Opinion

A reader has written a rejoinder to the special report titled, SPECIAL REPORT: NAFDAC Ban On Sachet Alcohol And Impact On Govt’s Revenue Stream, Consumer Behaviour, published in the Tuesday edition of RovingNaijaReporters.

In the rebuttal, the contributor argues that there is a lot of merit in the ban placed on Sachet alcoholic drinks by NAFDAC. Below is the submission forwarded to our editor.

If I am permitted to have a say on this, this write-up cannot be an expert opinion, for one may need to query the area of expertise it seeks to cover.

An expert would have known that the alcoholic drinks whose packaging in sachets is being banned are wholly produced in Nigeria and will still be available in Nigeria. What is being outlawed is sachets to pave the way for packaging using safer materials. Thus, no job will be lost except for counterfeiters and unsafe packagers, who will be out of business.

This expert opinion even contracted itself when it says, among other things, that “However, with NAFDAC’s clamp down on this production package, players in the industry are of the belief that there will be a paradigm shift in consumer preferences towards other alcoholic beverages or non-alcoholic alternatives, depending on availability and pricing”.

Of course, there will be a shift to safer and environmentally friendly packaging materials or healthier non-additive drinks, but all are still being manufactured in Nigeria. This is not a loss but a gain, as addiction will also reduce while the packaging will be healthier.

Anyway, the drinks were not banned. However, the packaging, which made them easily adulterated and readily available to underage citizen and their production, which makes them susceptible to counterfeiting using miniature sealing devices, is what is being regulated through the sachet ban.

Bringing the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria into the opinion is disingenuous as any well-informed expert opinion writer would have known that the regulations, though at the instance of the government to protect the health and safety of the consumers, would have had inputs from relevant stakeholders such as manufacturers, retailers, consumers, security agencies and the general populace. The reality is that manufacturers would have been experiencing a decline in sales arising from the counterfeiting, along with attendant abuse of the consumption of their products.

Besides, the opinion conveniently ignores the easy access and addiction to alcoholic drinks by underage citizens, as well as the unhealthy effect the packaging materials may have on alcoholic drinks. These negative impacts are what the regulator wants to stop, for it is only a healthy citizenry that can guarantee the economic well-being of a nation. Visits should be paid to health facilities and addiction management centres to understand the need for the ban to curb the rate of addiction and stop the havoc and road accidents caused by easy access to such drinks by adults who ought to know better.

The government would be shying away from its responsibilities if it failed to tackle the menace and safeguard lives. Outlawing sachets as packaging materials for alcoholic drinks will be the most straightforward form of enforcement as the law will enable those miniatures’ production and sealing devices to be seized while their importation for such purposes would be banned. Anyone caught violating the regulations would bear the cost of enforcement.

Protesting against the sachet ban is like protesting against motorcycles being used for conveying passengers on the expressway despite statistics pointing out that it is a significant cause of high fatalities and accidents. We should appreciate the government and stakeholders whose support and insistence that the regulation should be enforced, as their action resulted in the shift to tricycles and the attendant reduction in highway accidents.

In conclusion, we must all know Nigeria is not a banana republic where regulators implement policies without stakeholders’ involvement. Regulators do involve stakeholders and experts when regulations are being crafted. Yes, we may not be perfect, but every Nigerian has a role to play to make the country better. Such roles include supporting government policies that are geared towards curbing crimes, taming addictions, making our homes safe and protecting our family members from hazards and accidents associated with easy, uncontrolled access to alcoholic drinks.

Mr. Anonymous

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Olusegun Fayose

Olusegun Sunday Fayose, founder of RovingNaija.com is a Marketing Communication executive with experience in Corporate Communication, Public Relations, Branding and Advertising. He is also a seasoned media professional with roots in print, broadcast and online journalism. Segun, who last managed the Group Corporate Communication function of MultiChoice Nigeria, is upbeat that through responsible, fair, accurate and courageous reporting; and the support of readers, followers and patrons, Nigeria takes a step closer to a regime of accountability, fairness and equity in governance.

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