By Innocent 0ROK
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in its determination not to leave anything to chance in terms of standards and quality of locally made goods, both SON and Kano State government have explored and identified ways of hitting especially the Middle East Market with quality exports. To achieve this, the parties have agreed to collaborate and provide needed assistance for effective service delivery.
The Governor, Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, has stressed the need to strengthen SON to make the nation’s local industries to be competitive, saying that the Middle-East market is available for Nigeria’s export of quality products since she imports most of its food needs.
Ganduje stated this at a courtesy visit of SON management team led by the Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim to the Government House, Kano during the week.
The Governor pointed out the need for economic managers to encourage SON, stating that the standards body remain vital towards the nation’s industrial and economic growth.
The governor said , ‘‘There is no doubt that without standards, we all know how we would have fared in terms of being competitive in dealing with the international market, hence we need to deepen and widen the agency’s responsibilities to boost export of locally made goods.’’
He added that recently, the Federal government banned the importation of some food items in its bid to make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production, saying that this would attract both foreign and local investment to boost food production in Nigeria.
‘‘Nigeria is trying to be self-sufficient and already the president, Muhammadu Buhari, has banned the importation of some food items and some countries are in trouble because we no longer import food items from them, so in order to feed ourselves well, we need standards, the right quality for the food that we eat and for export.’’
He expressed confidence in the Director General to improve the agency’s services being provided locally, nationally and internationally.
‘‘When we need to export we have to be competitive and in order to do that, we have to meet international standards. I believe your appointment will add more mileage to the agency’s efforts to achieve this feat.
I believe you will raise the bar of the agency. I have heard all your request and there is no doubt that you need a befitting office and a laboratory in Kano State all we need now is a letter from your organisation telling us your specifications and requirements so that will direct the appropriate ministry to provide you this service. SON is vital to the nation’s development and we will continue to support you to achieve your mandate,’’ he assured.
Responding, the Director General, SON, Mallam Salim Farouk, said the partnership would seek ways on how goods produced in the State and other parts of the country can be exported to the Middle-East market, saying that SON would not only improve its standardisation processes, but establish laboratories to test locally and imported goods in the State.
‘‘We want to ensure that goods produced here can be exported to the Middle East. We will not only improve our standards but also provide laboratories to test for standards because that way our goods are treated more efficiently so that they can go into the market without being compromised. We are partners with manufacturers and we will make sure we address their challenges,’’ he said.
According to him, one of the greatest challenges of manufacturers in the Northern cities and States is that they have to cross the River Niger to get their goods certified, hence the need to set up laboratories to meet their product testing needs.
‘‘One of the biggest challenges most northern cities are having right now is that we have to cross the river Niger to get the food we eat certified and most times these goods are perishable goods that cannot travel long distances and for that reason it will be too late to export them.
I want to state our need as an organisation to have a befitting office and laboratory so that we can standardise products here, protect lives and industries in Kano. We are not very proud of our record here in Kano, because after 50 years, we do not have a befitting office or laboratory considering Kano State being the largest State and city in the whole country. Kano has a very large industrial base and the Governor is trying to revive the industrial sector. It will be wonderful if our ability to standardize food and other products would be encouraged by having a laboratory here in Kano to certify products to be exported to other parts of the world,’’ he noted.
The SON boss added: ‘‘We do not only want to be back on the map as an industrious city or State, but an exporter of goods from Kano. We will keep up with our responsibility and I am sure our manufacturers are capable of competing. Our job is just to show them the standards and help them achieve those standards. Kano is a centre of excellence in terms of business.’’
He said with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) scheduled to commence in January 2021, ‘‘Nigerians should expect robust inspection; robust inspection of the rules; robust prosecution of violators of standards,’’ pointing out that SON would ramp up its ability to ensure that only goods that meet international standards are allowed to thrive in the country.
‘‘We also require some cooperation from members of the business community which include the manufacturers, importers, marketers and consumers. We are also setting up a website where people can report fraudulent deals from SON as the AFCFTA draws nearer,’’ he added.