NIGERIA – The Nigerian House of Representatives and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have resolved to lift the ban on the sale and consumption of sachet alcoholic beverages, citing the need to alleviate economic pressures. 

Philip Agbese, the House deputy spokesman, announced the decision, clarifying that the lifting of the ban is temporary and will remain in effect until the economy recovers from its current strain.  

The initial ban was imposed by NAFDAC due to concerns over drug abuse, particularly among young Nigerians. 

The House of Representatives had earlier mandated its committee on NAFDAC to investigate the circumstances leading to the ban on February 7, 2024.  

The motion was moved by representatives Paschal Agbodike and Philip Agbese during a plenary session. Following the investigation, the committee met with NAFDAC officials, resulting in the agreement to lift the ban temporarily. 

Agbese stated, “We all agreed at the meeting that at a certain stage in history, we must move on with our counterparts across the globe. Nevertheless, at the moment, we agreed with NAFDAC that there would be a temporary lifting of the ban until the economy regains its strength.” 

He further explained that the decision was reached after extensive engagements with stakeholders, including NAFDAC, the organized private sector, civil society organizations, and other interested parties. 

The stakeholders highlighted that the timing of the ban was not suitable given the current economic realities, the five-year moratorium granted by NAFDAC to the private sector, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Part of the recommendations before the parliament was that the ban was not timely given the current economic realities and coupled with the fact that the five-year moratorium granted by NAFDAC to the private sector, the advent of COVID-19 and other economic realities we are facing today did not permit the operators in the industry to comply with their terms,” Agbese added. 

Following the final meeting with NAFDAC leadership, there was a consensus to suspend the ban in the interest of the nation’s masses and considering the prevailing economic conditions. 

The ban, which was effective from January 2024, sought to address health concerns associated with the consumption of cheap and easily accessible sachet alcohol, believed to contribute to excessive alcohol consumption and related health problems. 

However, industry players argued that the ban would lead to substantial economic losses and job cuts in the beverage sector.  

The temporary lifting of the ban is expected to provide some economic relief while allowing time for a more comprehensive solution to the public health concerns raised by NAFDAC. 

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