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Combating the Harmful use of alcohol in Nigeria

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Governments and agencies like the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) have also sustained campaigns against drinking and driving in a bid to curb road accidents.

The campaign has been premised on the fact that taking alcoholic drinks before or while driving predisposes drivers to possibilities of having road accidents. But quite a number of drivers have not heeded the warnings of the campaign.

For many Lagosians, the sight of a bus driver or any other local transporter with a sachet of bitters or unfiltered whiskey hanging between his lips is a most familiar sight.

It’s part and parcel of the many bizarre rituals that power the city’s transporters, policemen and street urchins on their daily grinds.

For many of their passengers, it’s not an action they approve of, but it’s one that needs to be tolerated. If they are to get to their destinations with as little fanfare as possible.

As a defense, many transporters, street urchins and road workers say the mini drinks help to cope better with the road rage the city is familiar for.

But ‘coping’ comes at what cost?

According to National Bureau of Statistics data, in 2021 no fewer than 6,205 persons died in road accidents.

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has further noted that 90 per cent of road accidents in the country occurred as a result of alcoholic drinks and hard drug consumption

Apart from the obvious dangers of drinking high level alcohol like immediate loss of life, there are also health issues associated with the abuse of alcoholic drinks.

This situation has not been helped by the availability of assorted alcoholic drinks in sachets and small bottles in recent years. This, experts say, is already fuelling a surge in alcohol-related deaths, warning that Nigeria could have an explosion of health complications linked to alcohol abuse in coming years.

According to the WHO, at least 62,172 alcohol-related deaths were recorded in 2016 in Nigeria. The WHO report captured liver cirrhosis, road traffic injuries, and cancer as major causes of these alcohol-related deaths.

Based on the WHO data, Nigeria was ranked the seventh African nation with a high death rate attributable to alcohol, coming closely behind Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’ Ivoire, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Burundi, and Burkina Faso.

In order to cut down on such incidents, the National Agency For Food and Control (NAFDAC) in January 2022 banned the use and sale of alcohol in sachets, small volumes and glass bottles below 200ml.

In a statement by the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, explained that the development was part of the agency’s decisive move to reduce availability and curb abuse of alcohol in the country. However, since the announcement little or no enforcement has taken place to curb the selling of alcohol in sachets, and small volumes.

Governments and agencies like the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) have also sustained campaigns against drinking and driving in a bid to curb road accidents.

The campaign has been premised on the fact that taking alcoholic drinks before or while driving predisposes drivers to possibilities of having road accidents. But quite a number of drivers have not heeded the warnings of the campaign.

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