Alcohol consumption is a big business in Nigeria with consumers spending just less than a quarter of a trillion naira in 2016. According to the latest data from the nation’s statistics bureau, in 2016 alone, Nigerians spent at least N208 billion on alcohol – this amount was more than the budget of Ondo State for that year.
A breakdown of the nation’s sobriety pattern shows the South South zone is the least restrained community of alcohol consumers. There, N74.4 billion was spent on alcohol, making the states of Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Cross Rivers the section of the country inhabiting the most enthusiastic drinkers in the year.
The seven states of Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kano, Sokoto, and Zamfara, making up the North West zone, comparatively have the most restrained drinkers. But they still spent at least N2.6 billion to assuage the palate of alcohol drinkers.
Federal statisticians at the NBS say the South East with N44 billion, the South West with N37 billion, the North-central with N30 billion, and the North-east with N19.6 billion follow in that sequence of alcohol consumers in the country.
However, in terms of rural-urban divide, federal statisticians say there are way more drinkers in Nigeria’s rural communities than in the urban areas. Rural communities spent N125 billion naira on alcohol consumption, whilst the urban spend N82.5 billion naira.
Abubakar Jimoh, director of special duties for the nation’s food and drug agency, NAFDAC, blamed what appears to be the high level of alcohol consumption in Nigeria on factors that include the relatively unfettered access to the products, and a disposition of Nigerians to abuse the bounds of regulation.
“Many of this alcohol are stored in a sachet and as such it is predisposing people to more alcohol consumption which is injurious to public health, under the realm of packaging and trying to modernise things.
“We try to license people in packaging to make things easier for citizens, however, we just discovered that people have started abusing it,” bemoaned Mr. Jimoh who hinted that the administration is in the process of addressing the problem.
“We are trying to see what we can do about that, the discussion is still on and I am not trying to preempt what decision will be taken at the ministerial level. The honourable minister is also involved, trying to see the regulations and how they can protect public health, because the small sachet thing is predisposing people to more alcohol. It is easier for people to buy in small sachets which increases the quantum of the consumed alcohol,” Mr Jimoh told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview.
Though alcohol consumption differs among the various ethnic groups in Nigeria, the contours of rituals, marriage ceremonies, and chieftaincy enthronement provide passage for it to find entry in the cultural demands of many communities and people.