In its renewed efforts to rid the nation of falsified and counterfeit medicines, unwholesome food and cosmetic products, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC has commissioned 73 brand new HILUX utility vehicles, saloon cars and staff buses to enhance operational efficiency.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said provision of the vehicles would put a permanent end to the hitherto practice whereby clients would bring their vehicles to ferry agency staff to site for inspection.
According to her, the inspection exercise is already compromised ab initio when staff of a regulatory body would have to depend on their clients to transport them to the factory to be inspected.
Prof. Adeyeye, in a statement by the Resident Media Consultant to NAFDAC, Sayo Akintola, in Lagos, on Sunday, explained that 20 Toyota Camry 2021 brand for some directors were commissioned in Abuja, while ten 60- Seater Coaster and Hummer buses were commissioned at the Oshodi office complex of the Agency. Forty-three (43) Hilux vans were commissioned at the Investigation and Enforcement Directorate in Apapa to enhance the enforcement & inspection and the regulatory activities of the Agency.
‘’Our staff deserve the best. And the welfare of our staff is our priority’’, she said, adding that the four (4) Coaster buses and the six (6) Toyota Hiace buses commissioned in Oshodi would serve as staff buses to make life more comfortable for the workers in their day-to-day commuting to and from the office.
Prof Adeyeye, who recalled that she met a total debt of N3.2 billion when she resumed as DG about four years ago, said the debt was paid back barely a year after she took over.
She said she took some excruciating cost-saving measures which earned her a lot of funny appellations by the staff such as ‘’ we can save N1m from this N5m request to buy a vehicle’’ amongst others.
‘’The money we saved is the money we use for what we need and not what we want’’, she said, adding that ‘’when we spend money for wants the nation suffers the consequences. Not just the nation now our staff will suffer the consequences.’’
‘’That’s why we started saving money despite the fact that I met N3.2 billion debt. And within one year we paid N3.01billion.
Prof Adeyeye explained that the Agency is going through its World Health Organization WHO audit now, and it’s being judged on seven regulatory functions or a group of activities.
‘’There is one big area called regulatory inspection. This includes visiting companies to see whether they are compliant with their Good Manufacturing Practices’’, she said, stressing that ‘’ It’s vehicles that will take our staff there’’.
According to her, regulatory inspection includes good distribution practice, meaning all the distributors that handle NAFDAC regulated products have to be visited to see where those products are being kept whether they are going to break down before they get to the retailer.
She recalled how the Agency was able to burst a syndicate that brought 30 containers of Tramadol to the country about three years ago through a tip off by the Presidency.
She said the Ports Inspection officers of the Agency kept vigil for days at the ports before the consignments worth over N2 trillion were apprehended and contents destroyed. ‘’The containers were labelled for bonded terminals. We wouldn’t have been able to do it. It is vehicles that officers of Inspection Directorate used to keep vigil at these ports’’
The DG further explained that the officials of the Investigation and Enforcement Directorate would make use of the utility vehicles to pursue peddlers of contraband, counterfeited products across the nooks and crannies of the country. ‘’It is not a luxury for us. This is not the end of it. Each state should have at least three Hilux vehicles’’.
Prof Adeyeye also noted that the new vehicles would be useful for the officials of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Directorate saddled with the responsibility of inspecting food, water and related products to ascertain their wholesomeness for human consumption with clients scattered all over the country.
‘’About 70 percent of our activities are field work. It is vehicles that they need. Before I came, companies were sending vehicles to come and inspect them. Who doesn’t know that that is the end of that inspection in terms of integrity?’, she asked rhetorically.
Top management hierarchy of the Agency took turn to eulogize the DG for taking the bull by the horn to tackle the perennial problem of lack of utility vehicles to do the regulatory job. “I have spent over two decades in NAFDAC, and I’ve never seen a thing like this before’’, said the highly elated Mr Emmanuel Nwogu who represented the Director of Administration and Human Resources, Mr Joseph Aina.
He said with the provision of four Coaster buses and six Toyota Hiace buses for the staff, no member of the staff has any reason to report late to work without appropriate sanctions.
‘’We have been buying vehicles. But I’ve never seen this kind of thing in my over two decades in NAFDAC where 43 Hilux, 20 Camry Cars and ten buses would be bought in a day’’, he said.
Both the directors of Port Inspection and Investigation and Enforcement Directorates, Prof Samson Adebayo and Barrister Kingsley Ejiofor described Prof Adeyeye as a blessing not only to NAFDAC but Nigeria as a whole. They both disclosed that she has brought an uncommon transformation to the Agency which they said was nosediving at the time she joined NAFDAC.