A recent disclosure by the Standards Organization of Nigeria indicating that the country had been losing an average of $32 billion (N52bn) yearly to fake and substandard products has raised much concern among stakeholders in the economy.
The fresh onslaughts in products faking, counterfeiting and substandard product manufacturing unleashed on all facets of the economy have heightened worries among economic players in Nigeria, prompting fears that the country’s economy might be facing a bleak future except viable solutions are found for the three-prong menace.
It is a non-contestable fact that thousands of lives are lost to fake drugs yearly in Nigeria, which usually find their way into the country through the nation’s porous borders. In most cases, this nefarious trend thrives with the connivance of some corrupt customs officials. NAFDAC, especially under Dr. Dora Akunyili, took the battle to the doorsteps of fake drug manufacturers and importers, and on several occasions at the risk of the officials’ lives. Despite all the efforts, unscrupulous Nigerian businessmen have kept on sustaining the illicit business just for personal gains to the detriment of the economy and fellow citizens.
The purchasing public has also been blamed for the trend. In an address by the Director-General of SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, to stakeholders in February this year, Nigerians were blamed partly for the trend. According to Odumodu, Nigerians are known to be acute patrons of substandard and fake products. He said in an attempt to buy cheap products, they often bought fake and substandard products, which wore off easily. At the end of the day, he said, they ended up spending more money to buy the same products over and over again.
However, analysts tend to correlate this trend with the growing rate of poverty in the land, which, according to them, is witnessed in the fact that the purchasing power of individuals often influences their buying preferences. A group, Social Alert For Change, paints the scenario succinctly, “An average Nigerian family in lower middle class is more likely to purchase drugs from a ‘chemist’ rather than go to the hospital for accurate diagnosis and treatment. In this case, there is a greater chance that the consumer may end up buying either substandard or outright fake drug. A similar scenario plays out for other products used by consumers.”
Read more at Punch.