Business

Much ado about industrial chemical use, regulations

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and manufacturers of chemical products in the country have agreed to explore the international market in order to enhance the nation’s foreign exchange earnings and serve as catalyst for industrial growth. TAIWO HASSAN reports

The alarming rate of unregulated and adulterated chemical product usage in the country’s industrial sector has become worrisome for the Federal Government and members of the organised private sector. The time has therefore come to safeguard public health of many Nigerians by ensuring that only the right quality chemicals are produced, imported, exported, distributed, sold and used in the country. Piqued by lots of complaints and the need to save the country’s economy and forestall turning the country into a dumping ground for adulterated chemicals, NAFDAC hosted a virtual chemical manufacturers’ stakeholders’ meeting aimed at sensitising, enlightening and creating awareness on the current trends in the regulation of production of chemicals with emphasis on the need to be listed as a chemical manufacturer in Nigeria.

Economic role

Obviously, chemicals, no doubt, play a pivotal role in the economic development of any country. Nigeria as an economy in transition has many needs for chemicals for her numerous industries in the manufacturing of goods for local consumption and export. With this, there is need for penetrating the international market. This move would further enable the industry to grow with more Nigerians gaining employment opportunities as a sequel to the expected expansion in the operations of the manufacturers and invariably the accompany development of the real sector of the economy. With the agitations to boost chemical trade in the country, it is obvious that some of these chemicals are now produced in the country and this creates an heightened concern for government’s regulatory agency and Nigerians. Aptly, NAFDAC is expected to play a leading role in strengthening chemical safety and security.

Collaboration

In his speech at the virtual chemical manufacturers’ stakeholders’ meeting organised by the NAFDAC, the Director- General of the Agency, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, explained to participants that the objective of the deliberations was necessary and critical in line with the current focus of NAFDAC’s management to bring the Agency’s regulatory activities in line with international best practices. She explained that the directorate had put in place effective regulations and guidelines for sound chemical management in Nigeria. ‘’This is achieved by ensuring proper utilisation of chemicals in a manner that reduces risk to health and environment and advocating for use of chemicals that are less harmful and hazardous,” she said. According to her, the time is due for the Agency to get rid of adulterated and unregulated chemical products from the system to give Nigeria a good image at the international level by eradicating the mindset as a dumping ground nation. Adeyeye, however, called for closer ties and collaborations with chemical manufacturers to ensure success in the objective to regulate chemicals usage in the country.

Portal for registration

Resident Media Consultant to NAFDAC, Sayo Akintola, in a statement issued in Lagos, quoted Adeyeye as saying that a portal had been created by the Agency for registration of chemical products for effective quality control and strict adherence to international best practices.

She admitted that chemical products manufactured in Nigeria would enjoy wider acceptability and high competitiveness with the NAFDAC registration identity. According to her, penetrating the international market would further enable the industry to grow with more Nigerians gaining employment opportunities as a sequel to the expected expansion in the operations of the manufacturers and invariably the accompany development of the real sector of the economy. According to the statement, the NAFDAC DG said that the NAFDAC Act empowered the agency to undertake appropriate investigations into the production premises and raw materials for food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water and chemicals and establish relevant quality assurance systems, including certificates of the production sites and of the regulated products.

Standardisation

It would be recalled that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON)’s Governing Council recently approved 96 new Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS) for national use, which cut across chemicals, technology, electrical/electronics, food/agriculture, textile/ leather and aervices. The approval of the standards were significant given the scope of their coverage, to include those that are essential for the production of medical and other supplies required for the management of COVID-19 such as syringes, face barriers, alcohol based hand sanitizer, medical electrical equipment, health and safety measures for tourism and hospitality establishments – post-pandemic (COVID-19) resumption amongst many others. Also, others of great economic, regulatory and industrial importance include standards for agricultural, petroleum and automobile gas products, electrical/electronic standards for smart energy meters and renewable energy, all of which support the Federal Government policies, strategic priorities and plans.

Last line

NAFDAC is clamouring for stakeholders in the industrial sector to be actively involved in the advocacy of the standards as well as the voluntary uptake by all relevant users in the overall interest of the nation, particularly in view of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

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