NAFDAC strengthens processes as businesses admit paying bribes for services

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is strengthening its processes as a new report shows that 76 percent of Nigerian businesses experienced payment of bribes to get the agency’s services in 2020.

A report launched on Thursday afternoon, conducted by the Convention on Business Integrity in conjunction with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), said 82.1 percent of businesses surveyed admitted making informal and un-receipted payments to get NAFDAC services. Also, 64 percent said they made the payments to say “thank you” or fast-track the processes, while 26.3 percent claimed it was to reduce liability.

Similarly, 64 percent said they paid N1,000 to N50,000 over and above what they should pay to get services from the agency, just as 12.3 percent claimed they paid N51,000 to N100,000 above what they saw as a threshold.

The respondents did not indict any NAFDAC official, as the report shows the money was paid through intermediaries.

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Seventy percent claimed in the report that they did not know that there were windows or avenues to make complaints or express grievances, just as 55 percent said the processes were too lengthy. About 40.8 percent claimed that NAFDAC processes were too lengthy.

Soji Apampa, co-founder, Convention on Business Integrity, who presented the report, said 65.4 percent claimed there was a difference between what they believed the cost would be and what the cost actually was.

Apampa further said 57.5 percent admitted that corruption was a major constraint, with most of the respondents claiming the bribes they paid added 5 percent to their costs.

But Samson Adebayo, a professor and representative of NAFDAC director-general, Mojisola Adeyeye, said the report did not show anything indicating that NAFDAC staff members served as intermediaries.

He said NAFDAC had long abolished the use of intermediaries and outsiders as consultants, stressing that it was strange when people would not be bold enough to report illegal transactions.

“We can only deal with the situation brought to our attention. For those who claimed they were not aware of how to report when someone is frustrating their applications, the numbers and e-mail addresses are at any NAFDAC location,” he said.

He urged businesses to ensure their documents were right, stressing that businesses often ran away when asked to do the right thing, but assured that NAFDAC was now willing to terminate such processes in two weeks. He noted that the agency had been doing aggressive re-orientations of staff and businesses, with measures such as e-registration and ease of doing businesses targeted at supporting small businesses.

Toki Mabogunje, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the current NAFDAC leadership had carried out a number of reforms such as total repudiation of consultants or intermediaries by companies for product registration, enforcement of 90 working days timeline for product registration, registration of micro enterprises products at the zonal offices nationwide, and prompt treatment of complaints/enquiries from companies, among others.

She said a lot of improvements were still required to better NAFDAC’s processes and operations.

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