· To promote local manufacture
· Says imports poison local markets
By Codratus Godson
The leadership of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Rivers/Bayelsa chapter led by the senator, Adawari Michael Pepple, have outlined how the regulatory agencies especially the National Agency for Foods & Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDCA), can promote local manufacturing by being pro-export than pro-import.
At a meeting held in Port Harcourt last week Friday, September 27, 2019, Pepple said; “We seek help to totally eradicate substandard foods and drugs because it is not good for local manufacturers to strive and labour only for importers and smugglers to destroy all the efforts through dumping of substandard products. They simply poison the market.
“We ask that you help us know the standards that you set for each product and reduce pressure on us at the ports. Also seek ease of overlapping functions at the ports. We believe common understanding will help. Try and give adequate support to local manufacturers to compete with foreign ones, else, they foreigners will take over our local markets.”
He said they were in the NAFDAC zonal headquarters to seek understanding for both organisations because MAN was born in May 1971 to press for policy. “We are here to interface with you to reduce friction and to seek the same kind of rapport that exists between MAN and NAFDAC at the national level (headquarters, Lagos).
“You know us and where we produce but you do not know where foreigners produce back in their countries.’
Pepple said the coming of the African Continental Trade Agreement (AfCTA) would need huge support from all agencies to position Nigerian producers to fight for market share in Africa without borders. “Help us here in the south-south/East to compete in the coming AfCTA era so that our goods can be competitive too. Open a common desk in MAN PH because in the era of open borders, its good quality products that would stand out to fight back.
“We advocate stiffer regulation over narcotic substances so that only approved hands will have access to them. This is because, our society is going down due to drugs. Join the drive for Make-In-Nigeria. Our products are better. You can see Nigerian made cables as an example. We are very ready to work with you. We are the ones that can create jobs in the economy, not the government. We control the value chain that spins the jobs.”
Responding, the south-south regional coordinator of NAFDAC, Isijola Subulade, urged the manufacturers to send information against fake products for action. She warned them against using middlemen and self-appointed consultants in dealing with NAFDAC.
She said most victims recover after losing millions of naira to the fakes for fees that may be as low as N50,000. She said the duped manufacturers and producers often weep after realising the truth. “Their eyes open when they have been thoroughly duped. They end up crying in my office”.
She said: “Middlemen and counterfeit consultants have caused havoc, but if you walk in straight, we counsel you aright. We feel sad that many companies have lost huge sums getting it wrong”.
She told MAN members in the region to embrace the NAFDAC offices at both state and zonal levels and work closely with the officers and stop patronizing quacks, fakes and clerks that mess them up. “Also, give us information of fake products so we can act swiftly”.
She said the gain of working with NAFDAC from conception stage when land is about to be acquired is to get sound counsel on things such as whether the location is too close to the cemetery, source of gas, bad water sources, etc. “We can advise you to get another place and enhance approval processes instead of having to invest hugely only to find that the location alone makes the product not certifiable”.
On demand for making the standards known to MAN, Subulade, a pharmacist, referred all manufacturers to the NAFDAC website where all information is easily available. “You can then approach us for further clarifications and guidance as you progress”.
She made it clear that the NAFDAC Director-General, Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, a professor, who was appointed on November 3, 2017, has demonstrated enough passion for up-scaling local production and export over import and dependence on imported foods and drugs.
She said only a well-regulated local manufacturing environment could guarantee export quality goods for the sake of global competition.
In her vote of thanks, the assistant zonal coordinator, Mercy Constance Ndukw, said; “If you do not come to us, we would come to you. Its good you did. Its NAFDAC that stopped what they call ‘For Export’ marked on many imported goods. Our former DG, the late Dora Akunyili, went to them and admonished them saying if what they produced was not good for their consumption, they should not send them to Africa. They now began to mark it “For Free Sale”. You must consume what you produce.
“The FG applies increase in tariff to discourage import and promote local products. It is smuggling that makes foreign ones cheaper. Rip off by fake consultants is a havoc. What is important is ensuring that the facilities meet standards. A lot of staff members get sacked from time to time for this. So, its good MAN came to rub minds with us.”