National Agency for Drugs Administration and control, NAFDAC is one of the most popular agencies in Nigeria. It has been in the centre of public consciousness. Even though its activities do no longer attract the kind of press it commanded a decade back, its importance remains unshaken. How well do you know the agency? Here are five facts.
1. It is a military legacy
Although Professor Dora Akunyili’s name is commonly associated with NAFDAC, due to the fact that her leadership of the agency helped spur its emergence as a major player in the Nigerian public sphere, the agency is quite older than the beginning of her of tenure. NAFDAC was established officially in 1994. The formation can be traced to 1988 when the World Health Assembly made a resolution that directed countries to take the initiative in combating counterfeit drugs by creating an agency equivalent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency in the US.
In October, 1992, a governing council for the agency was formed. It was, however, in January 1993 that Degree 15, establishing NAFDAC was promulgated. The law has been variously amended and improved on. First, Degree 19 in 1999, then NAFDAC Act Cap N1 of 2004.
2. NAFDAC has overlapping agencies
The duties of NAFDAC while clear in themselves have no specific boundaries with more than a dozen agencies with similar, if not, identical mandate. The major examples of these agencies include Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) was established in 1971 more than two decades before the concept of NAFDAC became a reality. SON has the mandate to act as “the statutory body vested with the responsibility of standardizing and regulating the quality of facilities, materials and products in Nigeria, and instituting a quality assurance system for the certification of factories, products and laboratories.”
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This agency is different from NAFDAC in that NAFDAC only concerns itself with food and drug. SON concerns include non-edible goods such as paint, cream, furniture, wears, electronics etc.
For the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), established in 1992, they are mandated to: “Eliminate hazardous products from the market, provide speedy redress to consumers’ complaints, undertake campaigns as will lead to increased consumer awareness, ensure that customers’ interest receive due consideration at the appropriate forum, and encourage trade, industry and professional associations to develop and enforce in their various fields quality standards designed to safeguard the interest of consumers.”
In plain English, the Consumer Protection Council has the duty of standing as referee between the customers and their service providers.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is a paramilitary organisation, established in January 1990 under Degree 48 and charged with the fight against hard drugs. All these organisations while laying claim to different mandates have more than just similar duties with NAFDAC. Sometimes, these duties overlap if not clash.
3. The Agency has produced mostly female DGs
Since the reorganisation of NAFDAC in 2001, the agency has recorded four Director-Generals. Of these, three of them are women. Dora Akunyili is the first of these DGs in the modern era. She was appointed by President Obasanjo in April 2001. Under her headship, NAFDAC became a force in the country as it took on the hitherto impossible fight of combating fake drugs in Nigeria. Dora Akunyili’s time in NAFDAC is well noted and well document. One indicator was in the series of awards and recognition that she bagged while she headed NAFDAC. These include being named in Time Magazine as “One of the eighteen heroes of our time.” Zenith Bank, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Transparency International, schools, organisations etc are on the endless list of her award-givers.
After President Yar’adua appointed Dora Akunyili the minister of Information and National Orientation in 2008, Paul Orhii was appointed as the Director-General. He was in office for seven years before he was fired by Buhari due to heavy corruption allegations. Orhii was the only male in the high office.
Mrs Yetunde Oni became the acting DG for the next eighteen months. She was replaced by Professor Moji Christianah Adeyeye professor of pharmaceutics, manufacturing science and drug product evaluation and an alumnus of Universities of Nsukka and Georgia, USA, and wife of Osun Central Senator Olusola Adeyeye.
4. NAFDAC has been marred with controversies
While Akunyili headed NAFDAC, the main fight was against fake drugs and fake drug syndicates. There were minor controversies but these were overshadowed by the sweeping reforms she was heading. However, Akunyili left NAFDAC in 2008 in controversial circumstances. She left to take charge of the ministry of information, a move that many saw as a ploy to remove her from NAFDAC without incurring public wrath. Professor Akunyili might have stepped on big toes that cost her her office. These, however, is small compared to the controversies that rocked NAFDAC under the leadership of Paul Orhii.
Paul Orhii was arrested more than once and questioned severally by the EFCC over strong allegations of embezzling NAFDAC funds so much that NAFDAC went from an agency that made an average of nine billion naira annually to one indebted to the tune of five billion naira.
NAFDAC is inactive on Social Media
The agency has a Twitter handle with more than 14 thousand followers. This handle, however, is unverified and has not made a post since April 2018. A bulk of its last posts are retweets. On Facebook where NAFDAC has over nine thousand likes, it has not updated its followers March 24, 2018.