The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has declared new war against circulation of substandard goods across the country, saying the influx of such products has contributed greatly to the current economic recession experienced by Nigerians.
While addressing journalists and other stakeholders during a two-day SON Capacity Development Retreat for Media Practitioners in Lagos, the SON Acting Director General, Dr. Paul Angya, said the country was facing the most supreme challenge of economic downturn, facilitated by continual spread of substandard goods across Nigerian markets.
He noted that the influx of such cheap substandard products, most of which were imported into the country by some minute number of cabals in the economic circle of the country, has persistently retarded the development of the local production.
According to him, Nigeria has been rendered non-productive economy hence, could not help itself easily out of the current economic downturn.
However, despite all efforts to tame the illegal circulation of the substandard products, the organisation has been facing various challenges hindering its operation hence; it has to battle two different categories of challenges to put the economy in order.
One of the obstacles in its operation according to Angya was disallowing the SON officials to carry out their duties at the seaports.
He explained that the policy guiding seaport operation did not provide adequately for SON to operate at the seaport which is the point of entry of those goods. He maintained that 90 per cent of the substandard goods came into the country through seaports, saying it would have been easier for the SON to curb the incoming of such goods at the seaport rather than chasing the containers on the expressways within the country which the organisation resulted to.
Apart from this, the organisation, in its effort to stop the activities of fake products importation and circulation to the unsuspected consumers, has been subjected to various kinds of intimidation by those who indulged and benefited from the importation of such products.
The SON boss said the number of those constituting the cabal, who perpetrate such act of illegal importation, was very small, putting it at about 0.0001 per cent of the entire population of the country.
“The community of those who spoil our economy is very small, about 0.0001 per cent of the nation’s total population.
“When we were disallowed to inspect goods at the ports, we resulted to chasing containers on the road. Those people still accused us and tried to suppress our efforts through various means of intimidation including blackmailing.”
In one of its efforts to curb the importation of substandard goods especially from China where the bulk of these good come from, SON established SONCAP, a platform through which those goods could be certified at their places of production. However, the organisation had to shut down the platform due to sabotage.
Again, SON tried to sign a MoU with China on Certificate of Free Sell, which allows only certified standard goods to be exported to Nigeria from China but the country refused to sign the agreement.
Angya, who declared that China was the highest producers of many goods in the world, noted that “out of 10 products in America, eight are from China and they are of the best quality, but out of 10 products in Nigeria, nine are from China and they are substandard.”
The SON boss further identified lack of infrastructure and insufficient workforce as another challenges to the operation of the organisation. He said the organisation only has 1,500 staff members throughout the country to carry out its operation.
He also said that lack of acceptable implementable quality policy constituted great challenge to Nigeria’s economy, saying this has lead to rejection of many Nigerian products especially agricultural produce at the international market.
He maintained that Nigeria doesn’t have a national policy, which can facilitate development of national quality infrastructure such as laboratory where the quality of goods produced in the country can be certified for international standard and metrology to ascertain international standard measurement.
Meanwhile, Angya lamented that government has not approved the National Quality Policy formulated since the last administration.
He said that unavailability of this policy has led to loss of foreign revenue generation for the country as most of the Nigeria’s agricultural produce had to be taken to Ghana and or Brazil for certification, bearing those countries as if they were the producers of such goods and sold to European countries.
“Our agricultural products are taken to Ghana or Brazil for certification and those products are seen (labelled) as Ghana or Brazil products in Europe for instance, our yam. So, we lose our benefit to other countries because we don’t have instrument/infrastructure for such certification here in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, he informed that the SON has been re-strategizing its effort to summon the challenges hindering its smooth operation by going back to the seaports, and reviewing SON Acts enabling the organisation to prosecute any culpable substandard goods manufacturers or importers and distributors.
He said it has also started standardization setting for some identified agricultural products at international market as well as those consumed locally. He added that SON has over 200 standards for agric products.
It would also launch new campaign against substandard tyres especially during the festival periods.
Angya further revealed that the organisation has been designing identification emblems for the dealers of tyres across the country to enable the consumers identify where they could get genuine products.