There is substantial evidence that the industry still participates in policy development. The process leading to the approval of the National Tobacco Control Regulation 2019 had the industry participate actively. They submitted memoranda, made submissions and sent a high-powered delegation to the public hearing at the National Assembly. The Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) also involved and continues to involve the industry during the standards setting processes.
Evidence shows that the industry engages in so-called CSR activities in Nigeria. While many are discreetly done, there are examples of CSR activities done with fanfare and media presence. For example, the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) sponsors and supports a number of CSR activities and programs that are endorsed by the government. In 2018, BAT announced a N700 million (about US $1.8 million) Country Program to support small-scale farmers to run for five years from 2018 to 2022. It has 180 CSR programs across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
It was difficult to get evidence to establish this. There have been instances in the past five years of such benefits to the industry but there is no concrete information to establish the fact. Conversations with government officials could not ascertain the fact, either.
There is little evidence to suggest that there have been unnecessary interactions between the industry and some government agencies. The industry being part of some committees and groups that also include government agencies makes the interactions plausible.
Nigeria has policies and laws that clearly support transparency and accountability on dealings with the tobacco industry, including the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019. The problem lies in their effective implementation and enforcement. For example, evidence reveals that States and Federal government officials held meetings and interactions with the tobacco industry without publicly disclosing any details. Section 25 of the National Tobacco Control Act was very clear on interactions between the government and the tobacco industry, stipulating that all meetings should be conducted in a transparent manner and details must be made readily available to the public. An effective implementation of tobacco control policies will prevent interactions that are antithetical to the standards of transparency and probity while dealing with the tobacco industry.
Nigeria has policies and laws that clearly provide for the prevention and management of conflicts of interest on dealings with the tobacco industry. The National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 clearly deal with how to handle conflict of interests.
Nigeria’s tobacco control laws and policies clearly provide for substantial preventive measures.
- The government must fully implement the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.
- As a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the government must provide information on its interactions, economic incentives and benefits that the tobacco industry receives from it.
- The Federal and States government should provide a process to fully disclose minutes, proceedings of meetings and interactions with the tobacco industry.
- Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government should consistently update their websites for easy information dissemination and for transparency.
- All government officials in relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to tobacco control must sign the conflict of interest forms.
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