Report indicts tobacco industry of interfering in Nigerian government policies
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) have indicted the tobacco industry of interfering with policies of the Nigeria government.
They stated this during the launch of the 2020 tobacco industry interference index report for Nigeria, being part of the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index – a global survey of how public health policies are being protected from the industry’s subversive efforts and how governments have pushed back against their influence.
The survey reviewed the tobacco industry’s participation in policy development, the tobacco industry’s corporate social responsibility activities as well as benefits to the industry from government policies.
It also assessed unnecessary interactions between the government ministries, Department and Agencies and the tobacco industry, it also evaluated transparency in governments’ dealings with the tobacco industry, conflict of interests and preventive measures.
Nigeria, being a signatory and a party to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FTCT) has some obligations on the issues while dealing with activities of the tobacco industry.
Nigeria also has policies and laws that provide for transparency and accountability on dealings with the tobacco industry. The National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 clearly provide for transparency and probity while dealing with the industry.
The survey established that the Nigerian government fell short of several critical standards of transparency and probity. The tobacco industry in Nigeria has also been found to interfere in tobacco control policies and to unlawfully embark on corporate social responsibilities in clear contravention of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015.
Overall, Nigeria scored 49 in the survey, which was supervised by the Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) in the School of Global Studies at Thammasat University.
Methodology of the report was based on the Tobacco Industry Interference Index initiated by the South-East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and the 20 questions are based on Article 5.3 recommendations. A scoring system (0 – 5) was used where the higher score indicates the stronger tobacco industry interference.
Speaking on the report, Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi urged the Nigerian government to put in place global standards, probity, and transparency in all its dealings with the tobacco industry.
After presenting the report of the survey to the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, Akinbode said, “15 years has lapsed since Nigeria signed the WHO FCTC and Article 5.3 of the treaty is binding on Nigeria.
Stressing that the industry was only interested in profits, he said, “It is disheartening that despite having a five- year old tobacco control law Nigeria still records a lot of infringement on the law and the treaty. This is not good for public health in the country.”
Programme Coordinator of NTCA, Olu’Seun Esan noted that the report reveals that the industry was still embarking on CSR activities and partnering with governments and ministries to mark global events.
He said this was wrong and should be discouraged, adding that government must impose higher taxes in line with the WHO recommendations.