A joint news conference was held in Lagos on Friday by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN) to express their worry over the ban on alcoholic beverages in sachets and pet bottles less than 200ml.
They said that the ban, which was imposed by the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and would take effect from Jan. 31, could make them lose over N800 billion worth of investments in the food and beverages sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NAFDAC said that the ban was based on an agreement by a tripartite committee formed in 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Health.
Mr John Ichue, the Executive Secretary of DIBAN, urged the Federal Government to persuade NAFDAC to lift the ban.
He said that this would prevent a huge loss of money invested in machines, raw materials and financial resources and also protect 5.5 million people who depend on the business for their livelihood.
He said that manufacturers respected NAFDAC and wanted to work with them to address the issue of underage drinking of alcoholic beverages and the business interests of the wine and spirits industry.
He said that some of the investments in the sector were loans from banks and that many of the companies had bought raw materials that would last for four or five years.
He said that if President Bola Tinubu did not step in to reverse the ban, more than 25 companies in the wine and spirits sector might have to shut down.
Mr Patrick Anegbe, the Chairman of DIBAN and the CEO of Intercontinental Distillers, said that the association had always advocated for responsible drinking and had run media campaigns on radio and television to discourage underage drinking of alcoholic beverages in sachets.
He said that DIBAN cared about the health of underage drinkers of alcohol beverages.
Mr Gandhi Anandan, the CEO of Stellar Beverage, said that the ban could lead to irresponsible drinking and make people drink more if they could not get smaller quantities.
He said that alcohol, like any other product, should be consumed moderately and that taking away the size option was not fair to anyone.
Mr Wale Majaolagbe, the CEO of Grand Oak Industries, said that no one had died from drinking distilled wine and spirits.
He said that NAFDAC should be sensitive to the difficulties Nigerians were facing and not impose the ban.
Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, the Director- General of MAN, said that the association was very worried about the ban.
He said that the ban would have a negative impact on manufacturers, workers, the public and the economy.
He said that after previous concerns, stakeholders worked together to educate the public on responsible drinking by supporting the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC to carry out advocacy, messaging, training and education.
He said that during that time, DIBAN spent over one billion naira on campaigns to stop underage drinking of alcoholic beverages and encourage responsible drinking among adults.
He said that they also made strategic efforts to find out the factors that cause irresponsible drinking of alcoholic beverages and the factors that lead to underage drinking in Nigeria.
He said that they also implemented strategies based on best global practices and national priorities to strengthen regulatory activities (e.g. access control) and strengthen implementation structures through effective collaboration to ensure sustainability.
He said that before the companies invested in the packaging, distribution, logistics and advertisement.