The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, expressed concern at the rising cases of the influx of fake and substandard drugs into the country from the nation’s ports and borders.
The House subsequently resolved to investigate the development with a view to nipping it in the bud and rid the country of fake and substandard drugs
This followed the adoption of a motion moved at the plenary by the House Minority leader, Honourable Ndudi Elumelu who lamented that many Nigerians are dying from kidney and heart-related disease as a result of the use of such substandard drugs.
He pointed out that the relevant agencies such as National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), who should affect the duties of checking the inflow of such drugs, had been expelled from ports and borders since 2011 by the then minister of finance.
The minority leader noted that the reasons for expelling NAFDAC and SON no longer exists as goods are now cleared electronically, he wondered why the agencies have not been cleared to resume duties at the ports and borders as no other agency has the mandate, capacity and know-how to effectively check the influx and circulation of substandard drugs.
He called on the relevant committees of the House to interphase with the minister of finance to rescind the decision and allow both agencies to resume their duties.
Supporting the motion, Honourable Nasir Ahmed stressed the importance and timeliness of the motion as the battle against fake drugs has come nearer home than previous years.
He called for the same seriousness as the fight against the importation of illegal weapons to be attached to the importation of fake drugs as they are equally as lethal.
While contributing, Honourable James Faleke stated that the filling of form M was critical before the admission into the country of imported products, and the provision of the product certificate clarified before the form M was then approved for products to be admitted into the country from the ports is also mandatory, these he said are already laid down measures aimed at ensuring products’ quality.
He stated that if every product at the port has to be individually certified; then the goods would be stranded at the ports indefinitely to the detriment of the importers, the consumers, the economy of the nation and the drive towards the federal government’s aim towards the ease of doing business.
Honourable Faleke, therefore, called for a reorientation and recertification of the agents worldwide so that they may be more effective from the source of production.
Also, Honourable Leke Abejide, who stated that NAFDAC and SON are still represented at the ports and have a single Internet window for analysis of data shared, called on the CBN to correct the list of 41 items for importation and ensure the form M be enforced instead of some products coming through import permits which do not ensure product quality.
Deputy chief whip, Honourable Nkeiruka Onyejeocha in her debate called for the same zeal on behalf of the relevant agencies as was obtainable when the late Professor Dora Akunyili was at the helm of NAFDAC.
Also supporting the motion, Honourable Ossai Nicholas Ossai stated that since the instrument of the Law authorises NAFDAC and SON to be present and functioning at borders and ports, the executive order should not be used to truncate provisions of the Law in this respect. He called on the House to ensure the provision of the Law is respected.
Honourable Toby Okechukwu stated that the SON has on several occasions been hindered from accessing the ports contradicting the legal backing they have.
While ruling on the motion, the Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila stated that the section of the law cited by Rep. Okechukwu “gives SON the right to access the ports to function, and not to reside permanently at the ports.”
The motion was eventually voted on and adopted and was referred to appropriate House Committee for further legislative action.