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Wake Up, NAFDAC!

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In the recent past, the sales of counterfeit drugs in patent medicine shops across the country by those ubiquitous medicine dealers, have reached a frenetic and feverish pitch. Yet, the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was set up to halt the manufacture and sales of adulterated drugs in the nation’s cities, towns and villages.

Yes, it is an incontrovertible fact that the fight against fake drugs has over the years been a national question in the nation’s polity. Well, the effort of officials of NAFDAC to reduce to the barest minimum, the sales of counterfeit drugs, appears not to have yielded the desired result.

Sadly, Nigerians and indeed residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, may have been stunned to hear that over 90 per cent of the pharmaceutical and patent medicine stores in Port Harcourt sell fake drugs to members of the public. This is indeed, unfortunate, to say the least!

Mr Momodu Segiru, Director of the Port Harcourt Inspectorate Directorate of NAFDAC, said the discovery followed a mechanical test carried out last Monday on  drugs in circulation in the Port Harcourt metropolis, and announced that the test was part of the agency’s nationwide sensitization campaign to ascertain the level of fake and substandard drugs in circulation with the aim of mopping up dangerous drugs and identifying their sources.

According to Mr Segiru, the exercise was also to demonstrate the use of the “true scan” equipment for on the spot testing of drugs, and noted that the machine  (true scan) has indeed, brought some speed and accuracy in NAFDAC’s operations, as massive failure was recorded in Choba, Mile One and some other areas of Port Harcourt.

To the chagrin of NAFDAC officials, it was also discovered that all the drug stores tested in Rumuokwurusi and Woji areas of Port Harcourt, recorded failure in one drug or the other, an obvious indication that very limited wholesome drugs are in circulation in Port Harcourt and its suburbs.

Oddly enough, with the discovery that over 90 per cent of drugs sold in patent medicine shops in Port Harcourt are fake, it is certainly not an overstatement that the life of most residents are now in great danger, apparently caused by those ubiquitous patent medicine dealers. Indeed, it also rubbished the image of NAFDAC, as the agency charged with the responsibility of policing the manufacturers and wholesalers of fake drugs in the country.

The question now is: What were the officials of NAFDAC in Port Harcourt doing when the spate of fake drugs in circulation got to 90 per cent level? Undoubtedly, this is an indication that the agency’s personnel are not doing enough to nip in the bud the antics of adulterated drug dealers.

Again, if 90 per cent of the pharmaceutical and patent medicine shops in Port Harcourt sell counterfeit drugs to members of the public, then only heavens know the spate of fake drugs being sold in the 23 local government areas of the state. This is why NAFDAC officials must wake up from their stupor and move into the grassroots in order to halt the trend.

All said, not too long ago, NAFDAC shut over 200 patent medicine shops in Cross River State, as announced by the Deputy Coordinator of NAFDAC in the state, Abdulkarim Razaz. He said in his office in Calabar that the campaign against fake and adulterated drugs would continue as long as patent drug dealers did not discontinue in the nefarious trade of selling fake drugs.

While commending the effort of NAFDAC officials for shutting down over 200 patent medicine shops in the state, one is at a loss to understand why over 200 patent medicine stores were still operating in the state right under the nose of officials of NAFDAC serving in that state

Beyond that, the authorities of NAFDAC must spread their dragnets to all the nooks and crannies in the state in order to apprehend more patent medicine stores, still selling fake and counterfeit drugs. This, would in no mean way, reduce (drastically) the danger being faced by consumers of fake drugs in the state.

Obviously, Rivers and Cross River states are not the only states enveloped in the sale of fake and counterfeit drugs. Therefore, NAFDAC authorities must beef up their investigations into the existence of patent medicine shops, dealing on fake drugs in the country.

One’s position on this touchy issue is premised on confirmed reports that the nation’s cities, towns and villages are again facing the emergence of patent medicine shops, selling fake drugs, few months after the exist of the immediate past director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Dora Akunyili.

That being so, one believes that the time has come for the authorities of the agency to set up a technical committee in every state of the federation, that would monitor (on regular basis) the sale of counterfeit drugs in the cities, towns and villages across the country.

Yes, NAFDAC’s desire to win the war on fake drugs, can only be achieved if the agency carries its investigations to the villages because, it has been confirmed that counterfeit drugs are sold with ease in the nation’s villages than cities and towns.

Friday Nwinudee

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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