NAFDAC, a Shadow of Itself Under Buhari – By Nonso Ozoemena
Dr. Dora Akunyili of the blessed memory would be rolling in anguish in her grave now. On 26th of December, 2003, she was almost killed by gunmen believed to be members of the fake drug cartels she busted. Dora was DG of NAFDAC then. Her appointments saw Nigerians heaving a sigh of relief that the problem of fake drugs will finally be solved. Was it? Yes, to a reasonable extent while she was in NAFDAC. These successes have a cost. The cost is that every now and then, a bullet would fly across her face in her car. Her family was in fear. She did not give up.
NAFDAC is supposed to be the last hope of the consuming man. Everything we consume in Nigeria, should be done in confidence, knowing that NAFDAC is working. Is that still the case now? Recently, the DG of NAFDAC, who personally is not doing badly, has lamented about the sorry state of the agency. “80 per cent of our equipment is no longer working and that is a major challenge to deliver on our mandate. The last time, the World Health Organization visited our laboratory in Yaba, they scored us zero,” the DG lamented.
Coming from the DG, one will understand that this is an agency gasping for the last ounce of oxygen, to survive. She is not looking for your pity or ours. She is simply stating that the FG is starving a quintessential body like NAFDAC of funds to keep combating fake drugs.
The FG understands that the nation’s borders are porous and largely unmanned. The FG understands that the nation’s customs services are highly understaffed. The FG however, while knowing all these, is devoted to killing off the one agency coming in between Nigerians and fake drugs. Recall that the biggest challenge of the nation regarding drugs, comes from addictions to codeine. This menace is too bad that even musicians sing confidently about it. Every shop in Nigeria is stocked with codeine and you wonder why the agency spends so much on making the media believe they are fighting this scourge.
Sometimes in November, a video circulated where people were using Sniper to preserve beans. Up till today, nothing has been done about it. Sniper is very detrimental to human health. Even if it does not kill now, an accumulation can lead to various forms of cancer. Is this what we are all joking with? Why has the defender of the sick in NAFDAC gone to? Perhaps it went with The OBJ/Atiku/GEJ administrations. If we are being honest, when was the last time NAFDAC confiscated and burnt a large chunk of fake products? All of these monumental feats of NAFDAC went with 2015. Now we are left with a shadow of what we had; a scarecrow named NAFDAC.
For the family of the Late Emmanuel Okwuke, Banana and plantain have become a symbol of death. No one that knows them would ever dare consume those fruits. Those fruits have become the messenger of death in their family. How would they have known that the fruit their late father consumed was ripened with carbide if the responsible agency did not tell them or do anything to stop it? Fake products, sniper-preserved products and carbide-ripened fruits have joined other scourges like killer herdsmen, Boko Haram and protest-hating soldiers, in dealing with the common man. One thing they all have in common, is Buhari. He is supposed to build from where previous administration left. Why then is everything falling apart? Why has the NAFDAC DG turned to a wailer overnight?
All we have heard is the DG complaining about the World Health Organization rating them zero in the latest accreditations held. This is not the NAFDAC we once trusted for better and efficient drugs. There has been a change in NAFDAC, and that change is not just peculiar to NAFDAC. Recall that the National Bureau of Statistics complained about lack of funds to publish the state of the economy. Why does the Buhari-led FG take special joy in strangulating agencies that cater to poor Nigerians the most?
Dora will be angry wherever she is, knowing that she could have died from those assassination attempts, for an agency that would later be treated like trash, become trash and rated like trash by the World Health Organization.
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