BY CHIOMA OBINNA
Director General of the Standards Organisations of Nigeria, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu yesterday declared zero tolerance on substandard goods in Nigeria, warning that the country will no longer be a dumping ground for products not good enough for citizens of the producers’ countries.
Odumodu who spoke in Lagos announced that SON has commenced a new programme that would henceforth enforce conformity of products being imported into Nigeria from the countries of origin of such goods.
Dr Odumodu said: “Standards and quality regulations are very strategic to the development of the national economy and for the safety and well being of the citizenry”.
The Director General who pointed out that it will no longer be business as usual for importers of goods marked “for export only,” said distributors, wholesalers and their agents will be required to show a copy of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme, SONCAP, certificates with which the goods in their warehouses and shops were cleared which would also be confirmed by SON’s officials through electronic systems.
He said: “We are aware of the manipulation which sometimes happen when you entrust compliance to standards to foreign organisations. We are aware that some unscrupulous importers and agents procure fake SONCAP certificates to clear goods at the ports. This we are set to wipe out forthwith.
“In the new arrangement the presence of SON officials at the various ports will cease to serve as a mere formality we have witnessed in the immediate past”.
Son officials at the various ports are being equipped with a new orientation that will make them identify non conforming goods and ensure they do not enter the Nigerian markets.”
Odumodu while reeling out his agenda for the next four years regretted that SON was not where it should be in the business of standardisation and quality management lamented that “there is a disconnect between its objectives to enforce standards and the standards of its operations and systems.”
He further declared that SON requires an immediate restructuring and systemic overhaul to make it a globally recognised standards and quality management regulatory agency it should be.
The Director General who identified the major challenges of the organisation to include lack of standard laboratories, substandard warehouse, dormant facilities and poor public goodwill amongst others announced that SON was set to acquire the capability to test a large variety of industrial and consumer products such as construction, fire safety, electrical, electronic, engineering and gas products and medical devices used in the subregion.
“In the next one year SON will acquire adequate anti- counterfeiting and cutting edge technology that will enable us fish out products that fall short of requisite quality standards. We shall systematically build a human capital and robust infrastructure base that will enable SON deliver on its mandate. By end of 2014, we shall not only stop going to Ghana and other countries for laboratory services, we shalll become a regional centre for standardisation and quality management in West and Central Africa.”
Odumodu further advised consumers to learn to question the products that are sold to them and take steps to reject and report any suspicious products offered to them. “It is only when people stop patronising substandard goods that the producers and vendors will stop their illicit trade because it will become unprofitable.”