The economics of a National Quality Policy
A NATIONAL Quality Policy, NQP, is composite, capable of touching all areas of national life positively and lastingly.
The economics are holistic and far-reaching. The NQP is the fabled cure-all without which the medicine man suffers ridicules because everyday a new affliction rears its head to show that something fundamental is yet untouched.
Speaking in a ThisDay interview entitled
“Lack of National Quality Policy Has Caused Nigeria a Lot”, and published February 10, 2013, the Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, Dr. Ikemefuna Odumodu, said that despite the determined efforts of the agency to curb the menace and which resulted in slashing substandard goods prevalence from 85 percent across board two years ago to below 50 percent currently, the main objective of the agency to help Nigeria-made goods gain some footholds on the global market and make the nation a respectable member of the international trades community has been marred by the absence of a National Quality Policy.
The economics of an NQP devolve around five core sections: Act as catalyst for local productivity and quick adaptation of best global standards and practices towards enthroning quality culture; improve management and process systems and work environments; attain efficiency and products competitiveness, increase gross domestic products and consumption, reduce importation and increase exports, improve citizens’ living standards and ensure a more stable economic performance and forecasts. And these parameters at the same time anchor a stronger global authority and dependability – global relevance.
It pays a nation to produce goods and services and sell to another even at a fee below the production costs if in doing so it provides employment to the citizens who would otherwise have been idle and become a threat to national health and security. Of course, the cost to the consumer nation whose workforce is thereby denied primary economic activities in productions, skills development and livelihood are far more – for social costs often exceed the economic.
When a nation lets other nations fend for it through high dependence on foreign goods and services and there is no NQP to act as a checkpoint, then a plague is let loose with the avalanche of substandard and dangerous products. The health of citizens is put at higher risks; the social costs are immense but the stress and ruin on local industries can and often are unbearable.
To start taking the NQP discussions seriously, we need to take cognizance of some delimiting factors; of stakeholders who have genuine fears for their circumstances in a Nigeria under an NQP. In all human endeavours, in group, national and global engagements, politics takes the front seats and from there sways the interplay and final outcome of issues. In reality, politics is the oil, pepper and salt with which economics, religions and social relations are consummated or consumed!
Some stakeholders with long established benefits in the old or existing orders now at risk of disappearing in the NQP proposal deserve to be enlightened on the necessity and inevitability of the nation to make a real start on global trades with the NQP.
The main advocate of this system change, the SON, must be clear and strict. Some stakeholders would want exemptions and deals here and there but often, there are two options available: trade-offs or no deals. And in the case of a National QualityPolicy, there is nothing to trade. For Nigeria either has a National QualityPolicy or none, therewith continues with the current laissez affairs policy!Without apologies, Trade and Investment Minister, Dr. Olusegun Aganga and SON DG, Dr. Odumodu, must bring the issues to national centre stage. The NQP is their baby and they have a responsibility to sell it but they can rest certain on the worth: It will mark the turning point in our national industrialisation agenda and international trade relations; for once Nigeria has something worthwhile to sell, it would be in a position to negotiate. Today, with nothing other than petroleum which is largely controlled by OPEC, Nigeria has little elbow room for better trade deals elsewhere.
A National Quality Policy is geared to bring sanity to an insane system that is at the same time highly profitable to the actors. And mark well: actors; because outside of their spheres of madness, these actors really want order to prevail! The predominance of substandard goods and services, the massive corruption by which the nation loses billions daily in both the formal and the informal trades, in the public and private sectors, are clear indications that the NQP and therewith sanitization agenda would hit primarily at the economics. But in Nigeria, as in most African nations, there is no business like politics! Therefore, the political class or sponsors in particular, are a potent opponent and this cannot be wished away.
And yet, this class must be able to look up and see what lies ahead; that it is in their best interest to institute NQP now, being the privileged class and if they let laissez affaires to prevail, they would be the greater losers. History bears witness to this fact.
Mr. JOE ANATUNE, a brand strategist, wrote from Lagos.