A United Kingdom (UK)-based Nigerian pharmacist, Mr. Peter Iyoko, has said Nigeria must enhance the standard of consumable goods it is exporting to Europe in line with international benchmarks. This, he said, will keep Nigeria in a position to earn steady foreign exchange from non-oil products.
Iyoko, a former Students’ Union leader at the University of Jos (UNIJOS), spoke against the backdrop of the rejection of some Nigerian products exported to Europe, particularly beans. He said the inability of the National Agency for Food, Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC) to ensure the products were safe for consumption may have led to their rejection by European countries.
He said: “Let me speak in my capacity as a businessman with many years of experience on rules and regulations guiding the export of consumable goods. One thing that could certainly be responsible for the rejection of any products is the standardisation of such product. If any product, especially consumable goods, falls short of the international standard, it will be rejected from the point of entry for human safety and security.
“For Nigeria to avoid re-occurrence of rejection of its products being exported to Europe, a holistic approach is required to ensure all rules and regulations guiding production, preservation and packaging are adhered to. NAFDAC needs to raise the bar for the manufacturers and ensure packaged food products being exported are up to international standard.”
Iyoko called for the repositioning of NAFDAC, saying the agency was overdue for reforms. He said NAFDAC needed to take advantage of technology to digitise the records of consumable materials being produced in the country.
He said: “If I were to be the Director General of NAFDAC, I would improve on the standardisation of all drugs and other consumable goods, right from the production point to preservation and distribution with absolute commitment to rid the system of expired and harmful food products. The system needs an overhaul in the area of delays to registration of imported items and the certifications of production plants.
“There is need to digitise the records of imported drugs and food products in Nigeria, so that it will be easy to identify and recall products that have expired. Arrangements could be made for refund on the cost price of the products or a certain percentage of the loss incurred by the importers. This can strategically be done with NAFDAC also generating revenue.”
He said expired and fake drugs still flooded Nigerian markets because of the laxity in employing digital technology to record goods brought to the countries by importers.
He added: “We need to know that repackaging of expired drugs for human consumption is worst than terrorism and kidnapping. People involved in this wicked act should be treated as common enemies. NAFDAC must be up to the task to protect the market from adulterated products.”
Iyoko said Nigeria needed to step up standards if it wanted to continue to export its products to the UK, especially as Britain prepares for post-Brexit era. He said there was high probability that Britain would introduce new trade regulations and import rule, adding that any country that wanted to sell its products in the UK may be subjected to stringent trade rules.
Iyoko said: “The outcome of Brexit discussion should bother countries that may want to maintain trade with the UK. The system has set up an arrangement for the direction to go, but there should be a cause for alarm because both Britain and Europe can exist independently. But, there may be new regulations on trade and UK would announce its own standard. Countries that want to export to the UK would have to be subjected to these new rules.”
The former students’ leader urged students and youth to be focused and continue to support the Muhammadu Buhari administration on its anti-corruption war.
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