The work of standardisation and quality control across the country has continued to attract increasing stakeholders’ attention. The business of cleaning Nigerian environment of fake, sub-standard and unwholesome products is no doubt an easy-going one. Apart from the government’s regulatory bodies such as Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), there is the growing conviction that all hands should be on deck concerning the campaign against substandard products.
According to the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Mansur Ahmed, based on this tall mandate, SON requires strong and full federal government’s backing, financially or otherwise, in order to enable the agency perform its task satisfactorily. To the MAN boss, the Organisation needs to be assisted especially if the nation would make a headway economic diversification and industrialization.
Speaking during a recent courtesy visit to MAN members by the SON Director General, Mallam Farouk Salim, in Lagos, Engr. Ahmed deposed both the government and private sector players should support, cooperate and continue to collaborate with SON to check counterfeiting and illicit businesses across the country.
In a related development, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has appealed to the federal government to allow the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to return to the nation’s seaports as a way of checking the influx of substandard products into the country.
According to MAN President, Engr. Ahmed Mansur, the presence of SON at the seaports would make its work more efficient and effective rather than allowing it to chase containers in the highways and markets. In his words, ‘‘we have made strong representations to the relevant ministries and the agencies and we are making steady progress to ensure that there would be smooth operations at the ports when SON is returned’’ I believe that when they do that, the whole system will be harmonised so as not to generate another congestion at the ports. That was what led to the problem, but I believe that with the use of technology, better system would be put in place so that SON would be linked with other agencies to have one-stop shop.’’
Determined to protect and promote the investments of genuine local manufacturers, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has disclosed that it would soon roll out product authentication scheme in order to grow local production.
Indeed, in a bid to address the circulation of fake and substandard goods, both the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) would partner to come up with a user-friendly product authentication mark to protect genuine manufacturers across the country.
The Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, said the priority of the standards body was to protect local and genuine manufacturers, noting that the agency has been working relentlessly to find a user-friendly and cost effective way of introducing product marks.
The Director General stated this at an interactive session with council members of MAN in Lagos on Thursday. In his words, “Our priority is to protect our local industries because these industries have faith and confidence in the Nigerian economy hence, we need to protect their investment. I want to assure you that I am part of you and we support you 100 per cent.
We are trying to find a more user-friendly way of introducing product marks. I feel that we can work together for manufacturers to voluntarily carry product marks while people importing would go through the scheme. That way, if there is an additional cost, it would be on those importing into the country.”
He added: The advantage is that if the product authentication mark succeeds, local manufacturers would join voluntarily because they have seen the value in it while on the other hand, if we implement it, we will make sure that all imported products go through a certain level of scrutiny.”
“I am appealing to the association for us to work together and find authentic companies, authentic marker to implement in such a way that it will not affect local manufacturers,” he stressed.
He said going forward, SON would intensify its partnership with MAN to identify genuine local producers, saying that whatever existing benefits the association enjoys would be improved upon. “Whatever existing benefits the association has with the standards body can only be improved. We have concessions that we give to MAN and this is one of the ways we encourage manufacturers to join MAN because they get the benefit of our concession and whatever certificate we get from MAN, we are going to honour it,” he assured. “For now we have to collaborate first and come up with an agreeable solution. We have both discussed the challenges we face and we are going to collaborate to address these issues long-term.
We are going to form a forum that would comprise a lot of senior employees so that both parties would be able to discuss issues and make decisions to achieve a seamless operation,” he said.
The SON helmsman said to combat the influx of substandard goods, there is an urgent need to deploy a robust cooperation between SON, MAN and other captains of industry. “There is no way we can track containers if we are not at the ports, we need the opportunity to get free access to goods within and outside the ports. We need the strength of the community to back our legal demands to do our job. We are also reinvigorating our operations,” he noted.
Earlier, the president, MAN, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, said MAN and SON have over the years enjoyed very good and honest relationships which it formalised in 2013 after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
He said the MoU forms the basis of the collaboration which it renewed in 2019. “We have collaborated and helped to grow the manufacturing sector and indeed, improve the operating environment and the investment climate,” he said.
He said the MoU will help to identify issues that affect the operations of the industrial sector which he said are best resolved through discussions, dialogues and cooperation. “We have recently observed the proliferation of issuance of MANCAP to new and unverified companies leading to the influx of substandard goods in the market. There are also claims that there have been inadequate testing laboratories leading to additional cost of members that will have to do their test elsewhere. We want to appeal to you on ways on which some of these challenges would be resolved significantly,” he said. He advocated for an increase in the levies, charges and penalties imposed on unscrupulous dealers in substandard goods.
“We are asking that you raise the bar for minimum penalty on those importing and distributing fake and substandard products”.