MAN, DIBAN Task FG to Reverse Ban on Alcoholic Beverages in sachets, Pet Bottles to Save ₦800bn Investment
By Azeez Disu
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN) have revealed that about ₦800bn worth of investment and 5.5 million direct and indirect jobs may be lost if the federal government fails to reverse the ban on production of alcoholic beverages in sachets and pet bottles not less than 200ml.
They disclosed this at a joint press conference held at MAN House, Ikeja, Lagos on Friday.
Noteworthy, the National Agency for Food and Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC), the government agency that initiated the ban, said the ban is in line with the agreement reached by a tripartite committee set up in 2018 by the federal ministry of health. It added that it commenced the enforcement February 1, 2024 to arrest the growing trend of underage alcohol consumption.
MAN and DIBAN said that they needed to reach a common ground which would address both the health of the underage and that of the business concerns in the wine and spirits sector.
The Executive Secretary DIBAN, Sir John Ichue who said the investors in this sector had invested over ₦800bn into the business and “there are 5.5 million direct and indirect jobs that may also be in jeopardy if the ban by NAFDAC is allowed to stay.”
He said some of the money invested in the sector by the investors are borrowed from banks, adding that many of them have procured raw materials that would last them for the next four to five years.
Sir Ichue said more than 25 companies in wines and spirits sector in the country may be forced to close shop if the President did not intervene in reversing the ban.
Speaking earlier, the Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir said “The Association is deeply concerned about the ban imposed on spirit drinks in sachets and PET bottles less than 200ml. More disturbing is the fact that adequate consideration was not given to the impact such move will have on the manufacturers, the workers, the citizenry and the economy.
“Going down memory lane, the imposed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently want to enforce has lingered since 2018 when the agency raised a concern, which the players addressed through research and campaign. The concern was not a problem created by the producers and could be solved by collaboration by all stakeholders”
On his part, the Chairman of DIBAN, Chief (Engr.)Patrick Anegbe, who is also the CEO Intercontinental Distillers, said the association had always preached responsible drinking and had mounted media campaigns on radio andTV kicking against underage taking alcoholic beverages in sachets.
He noted that the association is on the same page with NAFDAC, stating that the same objective could be achieved through access control rather than outright ban.
He noted that through access control mechanism, “the underage will be be safeguarded, businesses will remain and our members and suppliers in the value chains in the sector will retain their jobs.
“I also called on the President to intervene immediately, otherwise many jobs are on the line. Some of us the investors have invested heavily in the sector.”
Also expressing his angst over the ban, the CEO 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 encouraging those in 200ml and above.”
While he agreed that alcohol like any other products must be consumed in moderation, he added that “If we take away the size from responsible drinking, we are not being fair to anyone”, so therefore the ban is unfounded and unfair.”
Another investor, Mr. Wale Majolagbe who is the CEO of Grand oak industries, also echoed his colleagues in the industry, stating that the distilled wine and spirits has not been fingered as leading to deaths of anyone, but people had reportedly died from consuming undistilled drinks.
While he said that NAFDAC was not only insensitive to the hardship Nigerians are going through, she added that the DG, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye might be working in variance to President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda by imposing this ban.
“What would happen to the investment that the manufacturers have made? The machines used for the production of these products cannot be used for other products. The President should rise up and stop NAFDAC because the ban is not giving the government good image.”