Acting Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Mrs. Yetunde Oni has stressed the determination of the agency to rid the country of spurious, substandard, falsified and falsely- labeled and counterfeit medical products and food. She disclosed this at the weekend during a courtesy visit to the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. According to her, the visit is part of efforts to enrich the existing relationship between the agency and her stakeholders in the state adding that the task of safe guarding the health of the nation, which is the key mandate of NAFDAC, is one task that NAFDAC cannot accomplish alone.
Mrs Oni stressed that the agency is working tirelessly to end the practice of street hawking of drugs and described the culture of patronizing the drug hawkers as a major problem ravaging the state even as she asked the governor to support the agency in its efforts to put an end to the abuse. Although a hawker may claim that he or she has genuine drugs in his or her wares, but whether we like it or not, the drug loses potency because when they are hawked they are not hawked under the right storage condition and so, over time, they loss their potency. They could have been of the right quality at the beginning, but having lost potency, they become substandard products and we don’t want that. Another major challenge facing us today is the upsurge in drug abuse among our youth, who are the future of tomorrow and it is gratifying to note that Kano has taken the lead and is doing a lot in the area of rehabilitating our children who have taken to drugs, she stated.
At NAFDAC, while we are committed to making available control medicine for medicinal and scientific purposes only. We recognized the fact that controlled drugs can be diverted to illicit use and abuse. This is why we need your assistance to intensify surveillance and continuously monitor the supply, distribution chain for transparency and integrity. She further appealed to state government to avail the agency with office accommodation in the headquarters of her two senatorial districts. There is the need for NAFDAC to be established in two other senatorial districts within Kano State. When we have these offices, NAFDAC will be closer to the grassroots to perform our regulatory functions and rid Kano State of the menace of counterfeit and unregulated products, she explained. We have the workforce that could be moved to the places. Kano State will be used as a pilot because what we are doing here today, we are going to replicate in all the states of the Federation, she said.
I pray Your Excellency to look into these problems of lack of office accommodation, lack of operational vehicles to cover the vast terrain of the state and the unfriendly work environment characterized by intimidation and harassment on staff on the job, she said. She also noted that, whether we like it or not, the kind of job we do in NAFDAC is hazardous in nature. Oftentimes, when our people go out, they are attacked because we don’t carry arms. We are not an agency that is allowed to carry arms and so we depend on the support of the police. So we beg you to attach police officers to us. We don’t have that now she noted. She equally applauded the state government for inaugurating the Kano State Task Force on Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods adding the successes recorded by task force in cleansing the Kano State drug market is attestation of the determination of the commitment of the state government in ensuring that the people have only the right quality drugs. She, however, regretted that NAFDAC is not included in the task force in the state while appealing that the agency be reinstated into the team to perform its functions and roles along the members of the taskforce.
In his remarks, Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje stressed that there is a need for a strong presence of NAFDAC in the state given the fact that highly populated areas are attractive to illicit drug peddlers. Here in Kano, we constituted a task force, which is working hard and so far, we have destroyed hard and expired illegal drugs worth billions of Naira and also we have inaugurated a Consumer Protection Agency, which is also interested in items that our people consume. I am happy when you announced that you will want to open two offices in two senatorial districts and coincidentally, the headquarters of those senatorial districts are major routes of getting into Kano or going outside Kano to other states of the federation he stated. The North Senatorial District the headquarters is in Bichi and in Bichi is the route for those who are coming from Katsina, from Niger Republic. And the other headquarters is Rano. Rano is the route for those who are coming from Kaduna, Plateau State among others. I believing that by establishing those offices, you are increasing our efforts to control the menace to control the drug peddlers. Drug peddling is an international problem. It is not a problem to Nigeria alone or to Kano State alone. In fact, it is one of the problems of mega cities. Nigeria is trying, but Lagos and Kano, we require a lot of protection. Otherwise we may result into becoming Mexico, he stated.
He pledged to provide the agency with office accommodation in the two senatorial districts and the task force would work close with NAFDAC and urged the agency to avail the Task Force with credible representative. Earlier in the day, the Acting Director of NAFDAC held a meeting with the staff of Agency in the zone. The meeting which was held at the Federal Secretariat in Kano afforded her the opportunity to harp on the agency’s mandate and the need to provide for effective and efficient implementation of the mandate in the state. She appealed to them to imbibe a culture of discipline, sincerity and fair play and to work assiduously for the attainment of the collective goals of the agency. Saying that the time is right to change, she reminded them of the change mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, saying that it is a privilege to be part of the change agents.