By Helen Ovbiagele
BEFORE putting together theÂ responses to our write-up on shoddy products and the Standard Organization of Nigeria, we decided to find out from some people on the streets, notably the young and literate, what they think of the performance of the organization.
I wouldnâ€™t say I was totally surprised that many of them had never heard of the activities of the organization, or even of its existence.
Rather, I was sad that an important organization like that which should impact very positively on the life of the man on the street, is unknown to our youth.
If I had asked about the most popular home videos, rapper, albums, comedian, etc., Iâ€™m sure they would have had ready answers.Â But can one really blame them for not having heard of S.O.N?Â If they are unaware of its existence, so also would be their parents, and perhaps, friends and other relatives.
Thus, many people donâ€™t know that there are standards that manufacturers should adhere to, and members of the public have an established body to make complaints to. â€œYou started at the wrong end, Helen,â€ a friend and pen colleague told me. â€œWhat did I do wrong?â€
â€œYou should have gone to ask school teachers if they had heard of S.O.N.Â Now, Iâ€™ll bet that manyÂ they donâ€™t know of its existence.Â If some do, they would be vague about its role in the society, and where its local address is.
Relevant information Ignorance is of a high level in the country.Â Not too long ago, teachers acquainted themselves of relevant information so that they could pass it on to their wards.
Thatâ€™s no longer the case.Â People are more concerned about how to meet their needs than acquire knowledge. Isnâ€™t it because the S.O.N. is not active that people are unaware of it and its role in the society?â€ another colleague asked.
â€œYou canâ€™t blame anyone for not knowing about it.Â Â Â Before Akunyili came to NAFDAC, it was just another government agency that very few people were aware of.
But when she took up the crusade of fake drugs, and she and her team began to create a lot of awareness through the electronic and print media, it became a household word.
The S.O.N. should do something similar, so that we can feel their presence in the country, and benefit from their activities.â€
One of those who wrote in, was the P.R.O. for the Lagos State Office of S.O.N.Â Â Â He gave their hotlines as – 0803 6880301 and 0802 3191644.
Other readersâ€™ views:
â€˜Madam, I found that piece on the standard of toilet paper in South Africa quite interesting and educative.Â Thanks for bringing it out.Â I happen to know that our regulatory body, the Standard Organization of Nigeria, is not moribund because I have some friends who work there, and I hear of what they do.
But the thing is that they donâ€™t seem to have the same long arm and power that their counterpart in South Africa has.Â I suspect too that they donâ€™t have the staff and what it takes to ensure that manufacturers comply to laid down rules in the production of goods.
They donâ€™t help matters too by being so silent about their role and their activities.Â I agree that the average man on the street doesnâ€™t know that there are laid down standards for some products.Â They just buy what they can get.Â Thanks.Â Dr.Â D. V., Port Harcourt.
â€˜Madam, is Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) still functional?Â Nigeria has become a dumping ground for substandard electrical appliances, power cables and power extenders that burn with minimum electrical power load on them.
S.O.N. should consult Prof. Akunyili on how she sanitized the drug industry.Â IfÂ S.O.N. cannot stop the importation of these electrical appliances that are serious threats to our lives and property, the organization should be disbanded.â€™
â€˜Helen, your Viewpoint in todayâ€™s Sunday Vanguard is a fact about the Standard Organization of Nigeria.Â The body should be scrapped or re-branded.â€™
â€˜Madam Helen, when you say that the majority of Nigerians would yawn about the reaction of the regulatory body in South Africa to the defective quality of a toilet paper brand, you werenâ€™t quite right.
A few people may wonder what the fuss was about, but many Nigerians would applaud the action of the South African organization for its responsible action.
The quality of any product is important, and Nigerians do groan when they get poor quality for their money, but the fact is that we are helpless about what to do.Â Weâ€™d rather grin and bear it than return a defective product.
The attitude of the retailer doesnâ€™t encourage you to go make a complaint.Â They would shout at you and rain abuses at you.Â Some may deny that you got that particular product from their store even when you produce a receipt.
They would say you changed theirs with the faulty one.Â This nonsense would change if the S.O.N. sensitizes the populace, right down to the grassroots level, to the need to bring the sale of shoddy goods to their attention.â€™
Helen, Iâ€™ve heard of the Standard Organization of Nigeria, but not of their activities.Â Iâ€™ve come across the name several times in the papers, but I donâ€™t understand what they do or what they stand for?
Are they supposed to monitor the quality of the goods we buy?Â If so, theyâ€™re dead at the moment.Â Thanks.Â Yomi, Lagos.â€™
â€˜The Standard Organization of Nigeria is of no use to us.Â Why is it allowed to continue to exist?Â The Bible says any tree that doesnâ€™t bear fruit should be cut down.
I donâ€™t know who the head of the organization is, but he or she is probably a capable person put atop a refuse heap.Â If the body is meant to perform, it should be re-organized to do so.Â We should stop setting up a body just for the sake of doing so.Â Thatâ€™s my view.Â Â Ifeanyi, Enugu State.â€™
â€˜Due to the inaction of the S.O.N., Asian electronic and department stores have the audacity to put on their receipts that goods once purchased, cannot be returned!Â Would they dare do that in any country in the western world?
The government is mostly to blame for the disrespect shown us and our country, by foreigners.Â They allow them to come here and insult us.Â When we go to their country, they treat us like dirt.Â Our law makers too seem to be too timid to stand up for us.â€™
â€˜What the Standard Organization of Nigeria needs is a new image which would reflect their name as a regulatory body, which has been established by the government to check poor quality products.Â The public should be aware of their existence and of their use to us.â€™
â€˜I donâ€™t see the monitoring of the quality of toilet paper a flimsy exercise.Â Any product manufactured is important, and its qualify should be monitored by a responsible government body, in order to ensure that the buying public is not cheated.Â The S.O.N. should wake up.â€™