By Sola Ogundipe
Months after the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), was ordered to vacate the nation’s seaports and borders, the Agency has been reinstated by the Federal government.
Confirming the development in a statement Thursday, the NAFDAC management said it received official notification to resume at the entry posts through a letter from the office of the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday May 16, 2018.
The statement said: “in collaboration with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) and with the active support of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Ministry of Transport has been returned to the seaports and borders to effectively control importation of unregulated products, falsified and substandard drugs, unwholesome foods, narcotic drugs and hazardous chemical substances and foods.
” NAFDAC received the notice yesterday (Wednesday), May 16, 2018 in a letter dated 29th March, 2018 from the office of His Excellency, the Vice-President, as part of the PEBEC reforms.”
According to the Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Christianah Mojisola Adeyeye, “thousands of Nigerians have died as a result of falsified and substandard medicines. Many are currently ill, most likely due to unwholesome foods, drugs and abuse of narcotics and controlled substances, such as codeine, tramadol, pentazocine, etc. “These are partly due to exclusion of NAFDAC from our ports since 2011. The recent documentary on codeine abuse brought more attention to the issue.”
Further, Adeyeye said: “Aside from the dangers posed to public health, involvement of our youths in abuse of drugs weakens our national development, economy and nation building as a result of accompanied side effects of abuse, i.e., disruption of life goals, ideals and families. Moreover, the threat to our national security, due to criminality and terrorism that often result from such abuse is obvious.”
The DG who has emphasised the need to return NAFDAC officials to the ports and borders in different fora, said this expectation received a boost in the communique issued by the Office of the National Security Adviser ONSA, at the end of the National Chemical Security Training Conference in Abuja on 16th March, 2018, themed “Towards a Secured Importation, Distribution, Storage and Use of Chemicals in Nigeria”.
“Our Agency will work with the Nigerian Customs Service, The Shippers Council and other sister agencies in ensuring that foods, drugs, chemicals and other NAFDAC regulated products that pose danger to our population are controlled at the point of entry.
“NAFDAC at the ports will ensure that dangerous drugs or substances of abuse, many times falsely shipped as building materials, electrical appliances, computer accessories, etc. will be intercepted at the point of entry.
“In addition, the presence of NAFDAC at the ports and borders will reduce significantly the evasion of payments of statutory fees for importation of regulated products, thus increasing the Agency’s internally generated revenue and that of the federal government,” the statement noted.
The Agency commended the Office of the NSA, the Chemical Society of Nigeria, The Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMGMAN), the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), Association of Pharmaceutical Importers of Nigeria (APIN) and other key stakeholders for recognizing NAFDAC as a key player in the national security architecture by this singular act of restoring the presence of NAFDAC officials at all designated Ports of entry and land borders.