The increase in import of sub-standard and fake goods into Nigeria and the adverse effects on the population and environment should make the federal government consider the return of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to the nation’s Seaports, experts and stakeholders in the maritime sector opined at a forum in Lagos.
Director General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim reiterated that the law setting up the agency empowered it to be the seaports with the 2015 Act, Section 7(30b) stating that “the Standard organisation must be at the port of entry into this country”.
According to him, the unchecked influx of fake and substandard goods into the country is killing the local manufacturing industry with nobody or government agency able to track such goods.
Mallam Salim spoke at a SON sensitization programme for stakeholders in the maritime industry in Lagos with the theme “Standards Save Lives Grow Economy”
The SON helmsman also attributed the high rate of insecurity in the country to the importation of such fake goods
affirming that in more organised societies such importers and sellers of fake products would be tracked, arrested such and charge with manslaughter among other punitive measures.
He explained that the reason for forum was “to make sure that we try to sensitize each other in what we look out for. When we take any product as substandard, we are not here to spoil anybody’s products. We are doing it to protect your business and the people that buy the products.”
“In other climes, when you buy a product and sell it to the public and the public get injured or they don’t get satisfaction with the product, the seller would get sued. When you get sued, you lose a lot of money, sometimes, you may land in jail.
“ but in Nigeria, we have not yet attain that level, we have to develop to that level. Though we have the laws but yet we have not developed to the level where someone will go and buy substandard cable and sell it to Nigerians and get jailed for the havoc such materials caused to human health or our environment.”
He added that “They allow us once in a while to check goods but that should not be the way, because SON as an organisation should not depend on the kindness of other organisations to do its work.
Speaking on behalf of the clearing agents, the Vice President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr. Kayode Farinto urged the government to allow SON back to the seaports in order to win the war against counterfeit and substandard goods import.
He said government need to reverse the executive decision that barred the agency from operating at the seaports immediately.
“SON was asked to leave the seaport due to the erroneous belief that it would enhance speed and efficiency in the inspection and release of cargo but current realities have shown that the belief was not true and needs a review. Therefore, if Nigeria must win this war against sub-standard products, SON must as a matter of urgency return to the seaports to enforce government’s control. SON should also be on the portal of the Nigeria Customs Service,”
Also, President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Chief Tochukwu Ezisi called for regular engagements between SON and other regulatory authorities and the stakeholders describing such exercises as important steps to improve on their accountability within the organization and with their external audiences.