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BEWARE: Harmful products are on your local store shelves!

Consumers are to look out for the manufacture and expiry date before consuming a product.

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BEWARE: Harmful products are on your local store shelves!

Time was when the seal on a product bearing a NAFDAC registration number was considered the ultimate seal of authentication. Nowadays, not only are substandard and adulterated products dragging the market share with genuine products, some of them now falsify the NAFDAC seal of approval – registration number.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently advised consumers to beware of some products with fake registration numbers being sold in stores and outlets. The agency advised Nigerians to always examine a product thoroughly (particularly food, drugs, medical devices, or packaged water) before purchasing. Consumers are to look out for the manufacture and expiry date before consuming.

READ MORE: Unilever could be living out its lifecycle to a rebound

The agency’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr Jimoh Abubakar, while speaking during a recent interview said: “examine the content of the product, the seal of authority or the approved registration number from NAFDAC which is sacrosanct; NAFDAC registration number is not just a number, it is not plate number of a vehicle.

“The number is a rigorous scientific elaboration of a product through our laboratory analysis and through certain compendium references, and after all these by NAFDAC, a product will then be certified for safety, efficacy and wholesomeness”.

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In summary, the registration number from NAFDAC is a confirmation to consumers that the product (content and processes) has been examined and is now certified fit for human consumption. The certification process ensures first that good manufacturing practice has been followed, in the right location and environment, and with the right contents, before the product can be labelled.

READ ALSO: IPMAN orders fuel marketers to sell fuel at old rate until new directive from PPPRA

A recent experience

I purchased a multi-vitamin from an online store recently, and the product was delivered four days later. I was about to break the seal and consume when I noticed there was a slight difference in the name.

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I  examined the packet closely and discovered that even though the product had been packaged in exactly the same orange-coloured package, the name was different and the details showed that it was manufactured somewhere in Lagos state (the expected product was supposed to be manufactured in the USA).

I wanted to return it outright but then I convinced myself on the need to patronise locally made brands as well if it could give me the same results. I typed the registration number into the NAFDAC verify page and this was the result; “Warning! This product is fake. – report product”.

READ ALSO: Sniper makers should be worried about NAFDAC’s “ban” on the product 

The scourge of fake registration numbers

In as much as registration numbers are a key differentiator between approved and uncertified products, NAFDAC has admitted that there are fake registration numbers out in the market.

According to Abubakar, the agency is also on the lookout for perpetrators of this deceptive act, even as consumers have been urged to take an extra step in examining a product before consuming it.

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He added that technology had made most things easier now and urged Nigerians to visit NAFDAC’s website to get more information about products.

He noted that some products are listed on the website, especially sachet water, as the agency’s staff strength is not enough to be everywhere or to police the country’s population.

“Public awareness and information are very cardinal for people to help themselves; NAFDAC leverages so much on public sensitisation. So, people must help themselves on the consumption of these products,” he said.

READ ALSO: What You Need To Know About Value Added Tax (VAT) In Nigeria

Harmful products alert!

Sometime in July, the agency sent out a public alert notifying consumers that the “Pure Tassie Organic Apple and Blackcurrant Juice originating from Australia” had been examined and considered unsafe for consumption, due to unacceptable level of patulin (a mycotoxin) which had exceeded the maximum limit in fruit juice.

The agency’s verdict had also been confirmed by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, before the alert was sent out.

According to the notice, the level of patulin content in the juice is high enough to “induce liver, spleen and kidney damage”, and also toxic to the human immune system, causing nausea, gastrointestinal disturbance and vomiting.

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In the alert, NAFDAC implored importers, distributors, retailers and consumers to immediately stop the importation, distribution, sale and consumption of the affected fruit juice, urging them to turn in all current stock of the product to the NAFDAC office, although no mention is made as to compensations for their losses.

A month before this, there was a similar alert from the agency about three cosmetic products namely “Sifu Kunyit Day Cream, Sifu Kunyit Night Cream and JJ Skincare Glowhite Night Cream”.

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The products were confirmed by the agency to contain hydroquinone, tretinoin, betamethasone valerate and mercury, all of which are targeted at lightening the skin and changing the pigmentation.

Given the quantity used in these products, NAFDAC confirmed that they can cause damage to the kidney, get absorbed into the blood circulatory system and increase the risk of skin cancer along with other ailments.

Apart from harm caused to the user of products containing mercury, NAFDAC confirmed that mercury can disrupt the brain development of unborn children when consumed by nursing mothers, and also inhibit brain development of young children.

This time around, the products originated from Malaysia and had been imported into Nigeria. Deducing from the notice, one can see that the product had already been banned by the Malaysian Ministry of Health before ever it was imported to Nigeria.

In April, it was a World Health Organisation (WHO) alert on falsified Chloroquine products in circulation in Africa, all originating from three African Countries are Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger.

Why would people buy banned products?

A trader who spoke to Nairametrics confirmed that it is possible for such products to still be imported despite being banned. Tolani, who manages a warehouse where she sells consumables (snacks and drinks ) in wholesale quantities affirmed that when supplies are being made, the suppliers sometimes introduce new products at ridiculously lower prices.

“Some of these brand names that we know are very expensive and their price continues to increase without regulation. So, sometimes when we make to buy new stocks, the supplier can show us a new and similar product that is even less than half the price of the popular brands we know, so we buy them as well.

“They are all imported products, and people like to try out foreign products so we know for sure that they will buy it from us,” she explained.

She added that there was no way to confirm at such times whether or not the product was original, imitated, safe or harmful since the traders are no experts.

“They are foreign products, and I believe that if they passed through customs officers and entered the market, then they should have been checked there” she added for emphasis.

Any synergy between NCS and NAFDAC

Consuming harmful products is bad enough, but exchanging hard-earned money for things that could be detrimental to one’s health is even worse.

NAFDAC already has to combat imitated or harmful drugs produced locally. Doing same for imported products means they have even more on their plate to deal with. The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is responsible for manning the borders of the country and monitoring what goes in or out, and if unsafe products still find their way into the country, it means that there are gaps that need to be sealed.

Tweets on the NCS twitter handle shows that much of the organisation’s activities have been centred around the impounding of smuggled bags of rice, kegs of vegetable oil, cartons of spaghetti/macaroni, bags of foreign sugar, cartons of soap, bales of textile materials, parcels of India hemp, NPK fertilisers and vehicles among others.

There is a striking absence of activities around the importation of fake or harmful drugs or other consumables, and all the focus has been on the more lucrative items contained in the import prohibition list such as frozen or live poultry, refined vegetable oils, cocoa butter, bagged cement, etc.

Even though pharmaceutical and consumable items make up 5 out of the 25 item list, it would appear that the list has not been updated recently in line with the recent public alerts from NAFDAC.

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Clearly, consumers will have to take precautions themselves as NAFDAC has advised because the agencies appear to be overwhelmed with the amount of criminal work going on in the space. Thankfully, some products now include a sealed number on the packet which the consumer is meant to text to the unique code and confirm the authenticity. Unfortunately, consumers are often in a hurry and not many are patient enough to wait for the confirmation message.

From creams to drinks, foods, drugs and other things that are used in or on the body, an extra minute for verification might just be the deciding factor at the end of the day.

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career. As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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PenCom recovers N17.51billion from defaulting employers, imposes penalties

N17.51 billion was recovered by PenCom from employers who refused to remit pensions from workers’salaries

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Nigeria’s Pension Asset increased by N228 billion in October, PFAs increase investment in infrastructure to N40.52 billion   

The National Pension Commission has recovered N17.51 billion from employers that refused to remit deducted monthly pensions from their workers’ salaries to their Retirement Savings Accounts with the respective Pension Fund Administrators.

This was disclosed by the Commission in its 2020 second quarter report which was released on Friday.

Out of the N17.51 billion, the principal contribution was N8.89 billion, while the penalty imposed on the employers was N8.63 billion.

The report read, “Following the issuance of demand notices to some defaulting employers whose outstanding pension contribution liabilities had been established by the recovery agents, 16 of the affected employers remitted the sum of N261.33 million representing principal contribution of N152.79million and penalty of N108.54million during the quarter. This brought the total recoveries made from inception as at June 30, 2020 to N17.51billion.”

According to the report, one batch of NSITF lump sum payment application totalling N225,442.72 was however received on behalf of five NSITF members during the quarter.

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It said the application was processed and five members’ contributions were transferred to their bank accounts.

Consequently, it added, the cumulative sum of N2.94billion had been paid into the bank accounts of 36,551 NSITF contributors as lump sum/one off payment from inception to June 30.

For the quarter ended June 30, the commission said it processed monthly pension payments totalling N62.25million in respect of 3,629 NSITF pensioners.

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As of June 30, it said the total pension payment to NSITF pensioners amounted to N4.73billion.

The commission added that it reviewed the request for the payment of attributable income to eligible NSITF members and granted a “no objection” for payment of N2.92billion to 165,954 eligible NSITF members whose NSITF contributions were refunded to their RSAs or bank accounts as of December 2018.

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It would be difficult to find loans to finance rail to Niger Republic – Cheta Nwanze

Finding loans to finance rail to the Niger Republic would be difficult, says Cheta Nwanze.

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It would be difficult to find loans to finance rail to Niger Republic- Cheta Nwanze

Cheta Nwanze, Lead Partner at socioeconomic research firm, SBM Intelligence, says that it would be difficult to find loan financiers for the proposed $1.9 billion rail project from Kano to Maradi in Niger republic.

Cheta, in an interview with Nairametrics on Friday, explained that it appears that Nigeria is more keen on the project than Niger Republic.

READ: Ghana blows hot over Nigeria’s $2 billion rail project that involves Amaechi

Back story: Nairametrics reported this week that the Federal Executive Council has approved the disbursement of $1.96 billion, for the railway line from Kano in Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic.

According to the report, the President is also expected to commission the Warri-Itakpe standard gauge rail line, running through Kogi, Edo, and Delta States.

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“Nigeria is investing so much in this rail line, given that we are Niger’s 4th largest trading partner,” Cheta said.

READ: FG threatens to disconnect Togo, others from electricity over $16 million debt

He added that Niger, although being landlocked already, has an existing infrastructure for its imports and export services, which is much better utilized than Nigeria’s export infrastructure.

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“The majority of their imports from France, China, and the USA come in via the port of Lome, precisely because the port in Lome works, and the rail link in Togo is much better than ours.

“Nigeria, on the other hand, has let its Apapa port to become a wreck, while transportation between Lagos and Kano/Jibia is a nightmare, if we’re being charitable with words.”

(READ MORE: Trade and Investments, a way out of Nigeria’s economic troubles – Fola Fagbule)

According to him, with the reality of the Apapa congestion and other factors, finding fund for such project, when debt to service ratio is high and amidst reduced oil revenue, will be difficult.

READ: Local refining; A panacea for Nigeria’s reliance on imported refined products

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“With these realities in mind, I find it difficult to imagine who will extend such a loan to Nigeria, especially since, as far as all the information available to me indicates, Niger does not seem as keen on pushing this as Nigeria does,” he added.

However, the media aide to President Buhari, Garba Shehu, disclosed that the Federal Government is not constructing a rail line from Nigeria linking Kano-Dutse-Maradi into the Niger Republic, as it will only stop at the designated border point.

READ: NDDC Probe: Senate orders IMC to refund N4.9 billion illegal payments

Maradi is 55km from the Katsina border Town of Jibia.

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Canada invites another 4,200 Express Entry candidates for permanent residency 

Canada has invited 4,200 immigration candidates to apply for permanent residency.

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Canada, How to apply for Canadian Permanent Residency on your own 

As countries around the world commence relaxation of ban on international travels, the Canadian government has issued another round of invitation to 4,200 Express Entry Candidates, to apply for its permanent residency. 

Canada held its 163rd Express Entry draw, inviting 4,200 immigration candidates to apply for permanent residence on September 16being the second draw this month, with a comprehensive ranking system (CRS) score of 472. This is three points less than the previous draw held earlier in the month. 

This draw matches the 4,200 ITAs issued in an Express Entry round on September 2, which ties it for the second-biggest draw ever. The biggest draw issued 4,500 ITAs on February 19, 2020. The large number of invitations being issued by Canada is a strong indication that it remains committed to welcoming high levels of immigrants in 2021 and beyond. 

READ: Jobberman launches ‘Best Match’ product to get employers the right candidates, faster

The recent round of draw brings the total number of invitations issued this year to 74,150; a new record for this date, indicating an 86.4% success rate. 

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 IRCC used its tie-break rule in this draw. The timestamp used was March 9, 2020, at 13:03:40 UTC. This means that all candidates with a CRS score above 472, as well as those candidates with scores of 472 who entered their profile in the Express Entry pool before the selected date and time, received an ITA in this invitation round. 

This rule is used to rank candidates, who have the same CRS score. A candidate’s CRS score remains the primary factor in selecting candidates to be invited to apply for permanent residence. Factors that can affect the cut-off CRS score include the size of the draw (larger draws can produce a lower minimum CRS score), and the time between draws (shorter periods between draws can help to lower the CRS score). 

READ: 13.9 million Nigerian youth are unemployed – NBS

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How it works 

Express Entry, is the application system that manages the pool of candidates for Canada’s three main economic immigration classes — the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The highest-ranked candidates in the Express Entry pool are issued ITAs in regular invitation rounds. 

A set number of the highest-ranked candidates are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence, through regular draws from the pool. These invitation rounds typically take place every two weeks, and the vast majority involve candidates from all three Express Entry-managed categories. 

Eligible candidates for each program are issued a score under Express Entry’s CRS, which awards points for factors such as age, education, skilled work experience, and proficiency in English or French. 

While a job offer is not required in order to be eligible under the Express Entry system, the CRS does award additional points to candidates who have one. It is worth noting that the Government of Canada has a processing standard of six months for permanent residence applications, filed through the Express Entry system. 

 Nigerians trooping to Canada 

According to the report, Nigeria was the fifth highest country, that migrated into Canada in the month of July 2020, behind India, China, Philippines, and Pakistan. This is an indication, that Nigerians are taking every opportunity possible to move into other countries of the world, perceived to give better opportunities in terms of education, career growth, sufficient earnings, amongst others. 

recent report published by CEOWorld Magazine, reveals that Canada is the third world’s best country to start a career in 2020, which is why many people around the world would troop in numbers, seeking to migrate to the country, while Nigeria on the other hand ranks bottom four, with the likes of Libya, Syria, and Yemen. 

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