Codeine Politics: Northern Group Demands Reversal Of NAFDAC's Shutdown, Calls For Broader Stakeholder Engagement To Tackle Menace

By Uchechukwu Ugboaja - Abuja

In the wake of the recent announcement by NAFDAC to shut down the operations of Emzor Pharmaceuticals and 2 Others over the continuous production and sale of codeine contained syrup, a prominent Civil Society Group known as Northern Patriotic Front, (NPF) have joined the voices of many well meaning Nigerians to condemn the shutdown of Emzor Pharmaceuticals Ltd. & 2 Others by the National Food & Drug Administration and Control, (NAFDAC) over the BBC report on codeine abuse in the North.

The group is calling for an immediate reversal of the I'll advised policy while insisting that the solution does not depend on any reactionary response by NAFDAC, but within a broader stakeholders engagement on the issue at stake which has been an age long challenge of the region.

Describing NAFDAC's action as unfortunate the NPF claimed that the regulatory agency's hasty decision is capable of derailing gains of President Muhammadu Buhari's job creation policies which is aimed at increasing local manufacturing of products, goods and services consumed by Nigerians. With Nigeria's GDP on the slow rise owing to the recently exited recession, the government have continued to emphasize its commitment to encouraging local manufacturers and industries.

Reports have it that about 25,000 Nigerians stand the risk of loosing their livelihoods as a result of the shutdown of the entire production lines of these pharmaceutical companies over the abuse of codeine. In view of this, the Northern group said that it has since contacted NAFDAC requesting their collaboration to embark on advocacy with regards to the age long issue of drug abuse in the North.

Mr. Ali Abacha and Executive members of Northern Patriotic Front (NPF) during the press conference held in Abuja.

Speaking exclusively to Uchechukwu Ugboaja, the President of the group Mr. Ali Abacha said, "A broader stakeholders involvement is needed to resolve this issue and this will include the traditional rulers, religious leaders, the regulators, manufacturers and civil society groups in tackling the menace of codeine or drug abuse especially in the Northern region."

In a video exclusively made available to, the NPF claimed that, "The action of NAFDAC is ill advised and capable of derailing gains of President Buhari's administrations job creation drive, because of the thousands of jobs that will be threatened, in view of this our advice to the agency will be to to call for a major stakeholders collaboration to tackle the deep root causes of this codeine abuse menace amongst our youths."

In the wake of this shutdown, many well meaning Nigerians have not stopped giving their opinions especially on the social media, one of them is Senator Shehu Sani, the vocal human rights advocate from Kaduna state who criticised the move, describing it as an act of overzealousness on the part of the government agency. For the Senator and many other Nigerians, shutting down the production plants of these companies will not necessary end the scourge if the motivation for addiction itself is not tackled through adequate youth focused advocacy, enlightenment campaigns, and awareness on the menace of drug abuse in general.

He made his opinion known in a tweet on his verified twitter handle @shehusani where he said, "The shutdown of Emzor and two other pharmaceutical companies by NAFDAC is an overkill. Issues of violations if actually true, can be penalized with proportionate sanctions. Such reputable companies doing legitimate business & employing thousands of Nigerians must not be ruined."