- Says SON is protecting Nigeria’s economy from influx of fake goods
(Report by Udeme Clement);
The recent call on the Federal Government by a group of Maritime stakeholders to scrap Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP), is indeed a clamour to return the country to the “Dark Age”, when Nigeria’s economic environment experienced huge influx of fake and substandard goods.
Recall that a group of Maritime stakeholders, made up of freight forwarders and trade Associations, coordinated by former President of NAGAFF, Dr.Eugene Nweke, during a joint Press Conference, held in Apapa, Lagos, urged the government to completely scrap SONCAP, saying that the organisation should come up with acceptable Nigerian Standards for goods manufactured locally.
A group under the aegis of CONCERNED NIGERIANS, has expressed dismay over the agitation, saying that, “the very first thing is for one to understand what SONCAP is, and its relevance. We need a clear understanding before we begin to look at it, to know whether it needs to be scrapped, or enhanced for efficiency and heartwarming results”.
“All over the world, there are standards for goods manufactured, either for import or export. Products as well services have standards. So for any right thinking Nigerian to call for the scrapping of the only medium with which substandard and unwholesome products are put in check is roundly unpatriotic”, the group frowned.
“Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme has put commendable efforts in seeing that Nigerian Consumers are not exposed to potentially unsafe and sub-standard products, which constitutes serious health hazards to them.
“SONCAP is a product of Conformity Scheme. The objective is to help ensure that products exported to Nigeria meet minimum safety requirements. And being Africa’s largest market, SON has continued to come up with innovative measures to put in check influx of sub-standard products, not only from Asia, but also from other African Countries; especially as a member of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
“It might interest you to know that SON established a global network of country offices in all the major trading partners of Nigeria. All activities related to SONCAP must be performed in the country of export by the exporter through the country’s office with geographical responsibility for that country of export closest to the exporter. These are some of the effective measures SON has fashioned out to forestall influx of unwholesome products into the country.
“Besides, the appointment of Mallam Farouk A.Salim, as Director General and Chief Executive Officer of SON, is a welcome development. Recently, Mallam Salim declared that manufacturers, as well as distributors of Substandard Steel bars in the country risk prosecution and jail sentence.
“He made this known in an emergency meeting held at SON’s Complex in Lagos, where he appealed to all manufacturers and marketers in the country to put their house in order, as failure to comply will result in prosecution of offenders.
“Recall that the DG has issued three months ultimatum to steel manufacturers and distributors, to remove Substandard steel bars from the markets across Nigeria.
As a patriotic Nigerian, the DG is very disturbed about recent spate of building collapse, which claimed hundreds of lives, this he said, was a big blow on the nation, especially, the construction industry that the steel industry falls under.”
Dr.Obicee Okonkwo, a Maritime guru and former Publicity Secretary of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), when asked his opinion on the recent call for scraping of SONCAP, said, “no right thinking Nigerian will make such unpatriotic call. SON is a very relevant agency that Nigerians cannot wish away. It is a life saving agency and we are all interested in it being alive, as well as interested in keeping our properties safe.
” Calling for the scrapping of SONCAP because some people don’t really understand the importance of the Agency to Nigerian Consumers is amazing. They should rather come up with suggestions on how to enhance its performance for the betterment of all. We know that in every society, there are people whose stock in trade are nothing but underhandedness; as it is said,” in every twelve there must be a Judas”.
“The DG of SON has rolled up his sleeves to work; what he is now saying. He started from the steel sector, by giving them three months to assess themselves and also evacuate all Substandard Steel products from their shops and warehouses or face the full wrath of the law, which is commendable.
“Nobody knows who the next victim of building collapse or fire outbreak is. So when one is calling for the scrapping of SONCAP, it amazes me. They should come up with good ideas and solutions to enhance the conformity Assessment Programme and also begin to do the right thing. To me, it might be that the persons or group calling for the scrapping of SONCAP did that out of ignorance or are quoted out of context.
” I don’t know about the group, but if l should know, l would also like to find out whether the group or individual was quoted out of context. All over the world, people talk about standards and quality and a group is saying that the medium and the only mechanism that Nigeria is using to put in check Substandard products be scrapped; l think they need to think again and think right.
“The importance of having SON back to the ports should not be overemphasized. From my own view point as a stakeholder, l have always said that if SON, going back to the ports, would yield great result which l believe it will; in our quest for winning the fight against importers of Substandard products, why not ? The idea of people circumventing procedures of SONCAP and import permits is unacceptable. If we can get it right by putting in place, one stop shop,
l think it would be a plus.”