By Innocent Orok
Citizens of the world today in various countries are fully aware of the failing standards of products, yet while some are forced to live with it, some are getting more aware of the need to asked as a right for products durability, acceptable and unharmful to health.
It is a known fact that as countries population grows its demands for goods also grows, hence have given rise to inferior, fake, adulterated and deadly products, which according to the World Heath Organization (WHO) has consumed more lives that wars.
In other to instilled sanity and save lives, especially in third world Countries, most Standard bodies of various countries are enforcing the needed standard codes, procedures and regulations to protect their citizen’s rights and value for their money as well as security for their lives and Investments.
We take a cusory insight into the Director General of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Osita Anthony Aboloma’s painstaking modest achievements within his four years mandate.
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) was given a fresh breath of life on the appointment of Osita Anthony Aboloma, a Barrister at law as the Director General and Chief Executive in September 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
At resumption of office, he said “I inherited a vibrant organisation with knowledgeable staff that can compare with their peers anywhere in the world”.
Aboloma has however brought new dimension into the activities of the organisation and projected SON as one of flagships of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Governed by Act No. 14 of 2015 which Aboloma constantly refers to as a futuristic law, he has wasted no effort in putting the provisions to test particularly as relates to the vexed issue of influx and circulation of substandard and lives endangering products in Nigeria.
Focused on achieving the mandate of the Organisation under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), the SON Management under Aboloma’s leadership is employing collaboration to the fullest.
WAR AGAINST SUBSTANDARD/LIVES ENDANGERING PRODUCTS:
Working closely and harmoniously with sister regulatory authorities like the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NAFDAC, FRSC, NCC, the Security agencies and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. SON is employing an attacking approach to the fight against the influx and distribution of substandard and life endangering products into Nigeria.
To further show its force on unrepentant fakers of products, the Aboloma regime is prosecuting offenders relating to standards infractions through due diligence. Prosecutors of SON’s offenders are in close collaboration with others from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to promote the administration of justice.
To prepare the organisation for the daunting task, SON developed a standards enforcement protocol and provided resources to ensure the dissemination of it to Officers in all State offices across the Nation.
Lawyers in the service of the organisation were also trained and retrained to horn their skills in prosecution. While operations and standards compliance/enforcement personnel also benefited from trainings on evidence gathering in the course of their duties.
Consequently, SON has over the last four years initiated about 45 actions on standards infractions in Kano, Awka, Jos, Abuja and Lagos among others. Some of the cases are still ongoing and in the words of the Director, Legal Services, Umaru Kawu “We are committed to promoting the administration of justice on issues relating to standards infractions, to protect consumers and generally improve life through standards”.
The SON war against the influx and circulation of substandard/lives endangering products in Nigeria has covered many sectors/products including tyres, lubricants, cement, iron rods, roofing sheets, shaving sticks, unfortified sugar, electric poles, paints, LPG Cylinders among others.
To further strengthen its machinery to confront the circulation of substandard and counterfeited products nationwide, Aboloma set up a new Rapid Response Squad named “Surveillance, Intelligence Monitoring Unit” to complement the efforts of the Inspectorate and Compliance Department as well as the Ports and Borders Operation. The Unit provides independent intelligence gathering, monitoring, assessment and intervention from time to time on activities relating to stakeholder interactions to ensure transparency and accountability.
It comprises senior staff of SON and security operatives from the Nigeria Police Force ( NPF), Department of State Service (DSS) with special input from the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). SON has also acquired shredding equipment to deal with huge consignments of seized fake and substandard products like tyres which destruction by other means will be undesirable for the environment.
LEGAL SERVICES/ PROSECUTIONS:
The SON Act of 2015, bestows prosecutorial powers and other enhanced mandates to the organisation, through which it now prosecute most cases in-house. To this end, the Legal Services Department undertakes criminal and civil prosecution on behalf of SON with support from four Prosecutors seconded from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation to enhance existing capacity. At the moment, a number of charges have been filed against offenders, some convictions secured, while about 20 cases are ongoing in courts across the country for standards infractions.
In support of the Federal Government’s economic diversification programme, the SON has in the last four years churned out about 965 approved Nigeria Industrial Standards(NIS) by the Governing Council for use in Nigeria.
Among these are 237 in 2017, 339 in 2018, 225 in 2019 and 168 so far in 2020.
The standards placed emphasis on agro and allied products, those of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the areas of food, cosmetics and African Traditional Medicines in the almost four years of the Aboloma leadership. Among such were five indigenous standards for the following food products:
Standard for packaged Millet flour for pap, Standard for Corn Pap powder,
Standard for packaged Sorghum powder for pap, Standard for Fonio flour (Acha flour) and Standard for Acha.
Of great significance is the institutional support provided for the Federal Government’s policies on anti-corruption and good governance through the development of standards. The development of the Good Governance Standard and the Anti-Bribery Management Systems Standard was spearheaded by SON with the active participation of relevant stakeholders including anti-corruption agencies.
The Anti-Bribery Standard was completed in 2016 under the auspices of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) and formally adopted by Nigeria on 29th January 2018. The initiative seeks to complement existing laws through a paradigm shift which adopts a preventive approach in order to avoid crimes from being committed in the first place or to bring their incidence to the barest minimum.
The Good Governance Standard for Nigeria was completed in 2017 and has been approved by the Governing Council of SON ahead of the ongoing development of a global standard on Governance of Organisations under the ISO. Another major milestone in standards development under Aboloma was the launching of four Human Resources Management Standards among those approved by the SON Council in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in 2019 are:
NIS ISO 30400:2016 – Vocabulary in Human Resource Management.
NIS ISO 30405:2016 – Guidelines on Recruitment in Human Resource Management. NIS ISO 30408:2016 – Guidelines on Human Governance in Human Resource Management and
NIS ISO 30409:2016 – Workforce Planning in Human Resource Management.
SON also effectively coordinated the review of the Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS) for Cigarettes to prohibit use of characterising flavours, thus joining other countries of the world like the United States, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia and Uganda as well as the European Union, Turkey and Moldovia that have committed to banning menthol cigarettes from May 2020.
Most recently, the Standards Council (SON Governing Council) approved another set of 168 Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS). Commenting on the approved Standards by the Council after the meeting, the SON Chief Executive Officer, Osita Aboloma enumerated them as 64 for Electrical/Electronic products; 53 for Chemical Technology; 47 for Food and Agricultural products; three for Civil/Building Technology products as well as the reviewed standard for Hotel and Serviced Accommodation Management System and Rating – Requirements and Guidance for Use.
Aboloma highlighted some of the standards as including; Review of standards for fertilizers, Review of existing and development of new standards for the Tomato and Cassava Value Chains. Adoption of international standards on Environmental Testing
Adoption of international recommendations for renewable energy and hybrid systems for rural electrification among many others.
SON has continued to make steady progress in its Regional, Continental and International standards development engagements. Of particular importance were the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SON and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). This is aimed at utilising the resources of ASTM to strengthen SON’s standards development system and promote knowledge of standards development activities of both organisations.
To further promote trade facilitation between Nigeria and the world, SON is actively involved in standards harmonisation processes within the West African Region and the Continent through the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) in preparation for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). The Organisation according to Aboloma, has been working in close collaboration with other Ministries, Agencies and Departments of government. The organised private sector as well as development partners to develop the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) to cater for the free movement of goods and services in Africa.
He enumerated some of the NQI project already delivered by SON as including a National Metrology Institute nearing completion in Enugu, International accreditation of SON laboratories, its training and management systems certification services as well as ongoing automation of all services to stakeholders. In 2019, SON won the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Award for Global Cooperation spanning over fifteen years.
Aboloma in his words inherited an 80-85% completed Laboratory Complex Building at the Ogba Industrial Area in of Lagos State in September 2016, with some equipment already supplied in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) as part of the Nigerian Quality Infrastructure Project (NQIP) under the coordination of the FMITI.
By January 2018, the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Industry, Hon. Abubakar Moriki after an oversight visit at the laboratories stated thus “We are most impressed by the implementation of the 2017 budget by SON bringing this building project to about 95% completion with the installation of equipment and training of staff on-going simultaneously.
Also commenting on the SON Laboratory Complex project in April 2019, former Chairman Senate Committee on Industry, Senator Sam Egwu said “We have visited laboratories outside this country and the SON laboratories we have seen today compares favourably with the best in Europe, Asia and some parts of African in terms of International best practices particularly with the international accreditation and expanded scope of testing. Within seven months since our last visit, it is good to see almost all the laboratories in operation and the enthusiasm and competence demonstrated by the staff. This is a good development for which we commend the Director General, Management and Staff of SON. We urge you to maintain these standards so that others will emulate you”.
During a facility visit to the Ogba Laboratory Complex in 2018, former Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajjia Aisha Abubakar marvelled at the rapid transformation of the Laboratories and commended the SON Management for its commitment and dedication. According to her “the operations of these Laboratories can favourably compete with others across the world, more so with the international accreditation of the Food Technology Laboratory for biological and chemical testing in support of the Federal Government’s focus on agro and allied products for food sufficiency, security and export. I congratulate the Management and urge you to ensure proper maintenance of the facility and the continuous training and retraining of the personnel”.
From an almost completed Laboratory Complex building in September 2016, SON under Aboloma today, has a world class complex of 35 specialized and functional testing laboratories operating under six broad areas – Food technology; Chemical technology; Electrical/electronic engineering; Civil/building technology; Mechanical engineering and Textile/leather technology. Some are already internationally accredited like the Food Technology Laboratory, Lekki for Biological and Chemical Testing, by A2LA of America to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 (General Requirements for Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories) has been renewed until 2020. Efforts are ongoing to migrate to the new version, 1SO/IEC 17025:2017 upon the next renewal.
The Civil/Mechanical Engineering Testing Laboratory, Textile/Leather Laboratory Kaduna and Micronutrients testing Laboratory, Ogba, Lagos have all undergone pre-assessment audits and are reviewing the relevant documents accordingly for the real assessment towards accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 Standard. The international accreditation ensures the acceptance of tests carried out in the Laboratories globally and supports the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERPG) with focus on facilitating export of made-in-Nigeria products.
According to the SON DG, Osita Aboloma Esq. during the 2019 budget defence, plans were in top gear to replicate the Laboratories in the six geo-political zones with the physical structures already under construction. This is to ensure a more effective testing regime, shorter turnaround time and provide greater access to MSMEs involved in agricultural produce, food, leather and allied products spread across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
At the 2020 budget defence before the National Assembly, Aboloma stated confidently that almost all the regional laboratory/administrative complexes have been completed and awaiting commissioning in Gudu, Abuja; Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; Ilorin, Kwara State; Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Bauchi, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State. Others are still under construction in Awka, Anambra State and Lokoja in Kogi State.
The Senate Committee on Industry during the 2020 oversight visit to the SON Ogba Laboratory commended the Organisation on the state of the art laboratories, stressing that it compared favourably with laboratories in developed economies of the world.
Also commenting during its own oversight visit, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Industry, Dr. Dolapo Eniola-Badru extolled the SON Chief Executive and Management for the commitment in keeping the laboratories running and particularly for the international accreditation of some as well as the quest to have all others accredited.
CHRONICLES OF ABOLOMA’S ACHIEVEMENTS IN TESTING LABORATORY SERVICES IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS:
Takeover Situation Report as at November 2016: Accredited Food Technology Laboratories at Lekki –Lagos, Electrical /Electronic Laboratories (Lighting and Cable), Mechanical Screening Laboratory Lekki –Lagos,
Engineering Laboratory Enugu,
Textile/ Leather Laboratory Kaduna and
Ogba Laboratory Complex which was conceived to house forty –five laboratories shared between Food, Chemical Technology, Electrical/Electronic and Civil/Building has only fourteen laboratories. Equipment supplied, but not installed. The Complex was not ready for Equipment Installation because necessary utilities -light, water, gas pipping, toilets etc. were not yet provided.
HIGHLICHTS OF ACHIEVEMENTS:
I. Setting up of Ogba Laboratory Complex Actualisation Committee (June 2017) to complete the following projects: Installation of surface water tank with purchase of two pumps and plumbing work connecting old borehole.
Construction of new borehole close to surface water tank and servicing of the old borehole . Completion of toilet partitioning and all toiletry works. Replacement of fallen Aluminium ceiling by the contractor. Trunking of exposed internal and external piping works.
Installation of available air conditioners in appropriate laboratories. Completion of fencing wall. Construction of gatehouse. Gas piping from gas house to different floors. Powering of the Lifts for operations and Possession of keys by SON Janitor.
Others are Water, Electricity, Gas Pipping, installation of laboratory
furniture and others which are essential utilities for the running of the Laboratory was achieved by the DG in the 4th quarter of 2017. Equipment Installation commenced by Quarter 4,2017with the
fourteen laboratories earlier Supplied by 2016. While those that were partially supplied were completed with provision of ancillary services and training respectively. The expected outstanding thirty–one testing laboratories equipment were procured and installed within the period under review.
High–tech equipment was procured for the new laboratories. New laboratories includes Fertilizer testing Laboratory, Water, benzene and Additives Laboratory, Mycotoxin Lab, Pesticides Residue Laboratory, Lubricant testing Lab, Paint Testing Lab, Meter Testing Lab, Cable testing Lab, Micronutrient testing Lab.
High – tech Equipment (modern, digital and calibrated) includes:
High resolution Gas Chromatography -mass spectrometry (GC-MS), Inductively Coupled plasma -Mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Atomic
Absorption Chromatography (AAS) etc. Equipment of Food Technology Laboratory was repaired in 2017.
Major Equipment repair was carried out at Enugu in 2018. Kaduna Textile/Leather Lab was relocated to SON owned property for better space and security in 2018. Kaduna/ Textile Laboratory was upgraded with high-tech
equipment for better performance. Engineering Laboratory Enugu was renovated in 2019 to meet modern challenges. Mechanical Screening Laboratory, Lekki is approved to transient to testing laboratory being central to national clients. Capacity Building – Human capacity development is taken as a key strategy to enhancing technical competence of analysts and laboratory managers.
Training Plan Achievement increased
from less than 50% to 85% within the period under review. Accreditation to ISO/IEC is sustained for the Food Technology Laboratory. Transition to ISO /IEC 17025 :2017 was achieved in 2020.
Micronutrient, Chemical Technology and Electrical technology are at the verge of accreditation. Increased participation in Proficiency Testing and Inter- laboratory Comparison to improve technical competency.
MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES UNIT (MSMEs):
The Aboloma’s management has redefined and strengthened this unit to anchor SON’s responsiveness to government’s desire to diversify the economy through the growth and development of MSMEs. To this end, it has actively been participating in the nation-wide MSME clinics organised by the office of the Vice President. From 2017 to date the Unit has processed over 188 documents relating to problem solving, information on SON services and other activities necessary for the growth of the MSMEs.
Consequently, a total of 3,846 products belonging to 2,188 MSMEs received the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) certification and revalidation. While 559 products of MSMEs were collated for standards elaboration/development.
SON conformance to the Presidential Executive order on the development of MSMEs has been amply exemplified by the concessions granted the MSMEs, namely 50% discount on SON Service Charges regarding purchase of Standards, Product Testing, Certifications and import Permit for raw materials and equipment under the offshore Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) for imported products and raw materials.
PROCESS REFORMS IN LINE WITH INTERNATIONAL BEST PRACTICES
In line with the Presidential Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business, SON has carried out various process reforms in line with international best practices including but not limited to:
Automation of products certification and registration procedures for greater efficiency by drastically reducing human interactions and turnaround time.
Introduction of electronic demand notes and receipts for all SON services including for ports and borderoperations.
Revalidation of SON Laboratories’. International Accreditation and expansion of scope of testing
Securing of International Accreditation for SON Management. Systems Certification Services. Securing International Recognition by the International Register of Certified Auditors (IRCA) and Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) for SON Management Systems Training Services.
CONFORMITY ASSESSMENT FOR PRODUCT CERTIFICATION
MANCAP: Conformity Assessment is the worldwide-recognized process to demonstrate that products have met all requirements of relevant standards, including chemical composition, packaging, labelling and legislative requirements before being placed on the market. It promotes competitiveness, facilitates trade across borders and promotes the ease of doing business within and among Nations.
The process includes inspection, sampling, testing and certification, performed by National Standards Bureaus (NSBs) under the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) guidelines. Nigerian made products are thus certified under the SON Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) as provided under the SON Act 14 of 2015, Part III Section 5 (1) (i) under Functions and Duties of the Organisation to “establish a mandatory conformity assessment program for locally manufactured products in Nigeria”. Locally manufactured products thus undergo mandatory certification to access the local as well as export markets as obtains worldwide including in other parts of Africa, Europe, America, Asia etc.
The SON Management under Aboloma has however introduced automation to promote greater efficiency in the service by reducing human interference and shortening the turnaround time in the products certification process.
In 2017, 1027 products of 549 companies were certified under the MANCAP; 1157 products of 622 companies in 2018; 1342 of 618 companies in 2019 and 250 products of 133 companies in 2020. Well over 75% of the companies whose products were certified fall within the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises category.
THE SONCAP POLICY OF SON:
To ensure greater efficiency and more globally effective coverage, the SON Management has engaged two additional internationally accredited Firms (IAFs) to complement the existing four, undertaking the offshore Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) for imported products into Nigeria prior to export. The Programme, which commenced as far back as 2006, has undergone such transformation in the last 4 years, under the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS), with integration into the National Trade Portal.
Late in 2019, SON upgraded its online application portal for the operation of the offshore Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) for processing of imports into Nigeria. According to the Director Product Certification, Mr. Tersoo Orngudwem, the transition of the SONCAP Portal was not only successful but has ensured a necessary upgrade in the system to ensure optimal performance, enhance a seamless operation and more efficient service delivery to customers and stakeholders alike, to guarantee even shorter turnaround time. He described the process as a reflection of SON’s strict adherence to FG policies to improve on local content and facilitate relevant technology transfer. Mr. Orngudwem described the upgraded portal as a one-stop shop that provides clients opportunity to apply, check status of application, send messages to SON and receive responses as well upload evidence of payments seamlessly.
Other features according to him includes: Profile of the work done on Clients dashboard. Documents used for application are all on the Clients dashboard.No more Tax Identification Number (TIN) error. No more mistakes in company name etc. The SONCAP online application portal has therefore created an easy access to SON’s offshore conformity assessment regime for products imported into the country from the confines of homes and offices of customers without undue interface with SON staff, he said.
ATTAINMENT OF INTERNATIONAL ACCREDITATION:
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in 2019 attained International Accreditation for its Management Systems Certification Services offered to both the public and private sectors to promote greater efficiency in management of organisations, safety and the preservation of the environment for sustainable socio-economic development. The accreditation by the National Accreditation Board (NABCB) of India are in the fields of Quality Management Systems (QMS, ISO 9001:2015), Environmental Management System (EMS, ISO 14001:2015), Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS ISO 18001:2007) and Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS, ISO/IEC 22000:2005).
The Federal Government through the Secretary to Government of the Federation has thus directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to patronize the services in conformance to the Presidential Executive Order No. 4, on support for local content and in order to save scarce foreign exchange.
Aboloma enumerated benefits accruable from the international accreditation of the SON-MSC as including;
Guarantee of professional approach that ensures that services offered meet clients’ requirements. Increased business opportunities for clients in view of the global recognition. Useful feedback to clients with the help of knowledge transfer since accredited certification bodies can be a good source of impartial advice and
Increased and smooth access to overseas markets for companies using accredited certification.
SON’s INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNISED TRAINING CENTRE:
As part of the process reforms for more effective service delivery, the SON Training Services (STS) Centre, situated at Ogba, Lagos has received global certification from the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) and the International Registry of Certified Auditors. The scope of the certification covers training in international management systems standards at Foundation, Internal Auditor and Transition as well as Lead Auditor and conversion courses in Nigeria and the West African Region. The Nigerian Army was one of the first beneficiaries of the training on ISO Quality Managements Systems Standard after the certification.
Many public and private sector organisations have benefited from the Centre’s accredited training. The public sector organisations include Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Nigerian National Sugar Council and the Research and Development Department of the NNPC. Among the private sector beneficiaries were Guinness Nigeria Plc, Union Bank Plc, Mobil Oil Plc, General Electric, Axxella (Formerly Oando Plc), Rubber Estate Nigeria Limited, Associated Maritime Services Ltd, CAP Plc, Laser Engineering and Arla Foods (formerly Dano Milk).
NATIONAL METROLOGY INSTITUTE
The development of a National Metrology Institute (NMI) in Enugu, inherited from his predecessor by Aboloma is still ongoing and nearing completion. The Institute is designed as the reference metrology Laboratory in Nigeria and West Africa for all measurement Standards with highest degree of accuracy instrument, traceable to international standards. Suffice to state that accurate measurements using properly calibrated instrument ensure trust, facilitate trade and promotes improved productivity. The NMI provides these services for length, mass pressure, volume/flow, temperature and force measuring instrument such as rules, scales/weigh bridges, flow meters, gauges, thermometers and load cells etc.
The NMI objectives include to eliminate incidences of inaccurate measurements in trade, manufacturing, export and import, education, health, agriculture, aviation, oil and gas, automotive and mining among many others in Nigeria. It is the engine room for successful diversification of the national economy through huge savings on the hard currencies being paid to foreign NMIs by testing and calibration laboratories in Nigeria. The NMI through promotion of accurate measurements in industry and commerce strengthens the other components of the National Quality Infrastructure like Standards Development, Testing and Conformity Assessment, Accreditation etc in the Country.
One of the main achievements of the NMI in 2018 was the calibration of equipment for the Nigerian Air Force at its Central Avionics, Overhaul and Calibration centre to enhance the Force capacity to test and repair its Air Crafts. Also of note is the successful hosting of distinguished experts and stakeholders from the African Continent, France and Germany in Nigeria for the General Assembly of Intra-African Metrology System (AFRIMETS) to rub minds on the science of measurement, accuracy and traceability also in 2018. Suffice to state that the equipment supplied by UNIDO under the funding corridor of the European Union (EU) are being installed and put to use.
Some of the major clients of the NMI include Secondary Calibration Laboratories, Research Laboratories, Steel Companies, Dangote Industries PLC, CCECC Co. Ltd, Zungeru Hydropower project, Ladgroup Ltd, Pharmaceutical Companies, Manufacturing Companies, Agricultural Establishments, Dealers and Distributors, as well as Testing Laboratories, etc.
PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT STRIDES:
To create conducive working environment for the staff for effective service delivery closer to the stakeholders nationwide, SON Management under Aboloma provided office equipment and furniture to all regional and state offices. In addition, fence and gatehouses were built in Awka, Lokoja and Port Harcourt Offices. State/Regional offices and laboratory complexes under construction in, Ekiti, Ilorin, Uyo, Bauchi, and the FCT are ready for commissioning, while those in Port Harcourt and Awka are nearing completion. All these are in addition to the construction of the Corporate Headquarters Annex at Wuse, Abuja which is also ready for commissioning. Renovation works were carried out in Lekki, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna Textile Laboratory, Benin, Owerri, Jos, Ibadan, Saki and Akure offices.
In order to bring SON services closer to its stakeholders, the Delta State office in Asaba commenced activities in 2018 while annex offices were opened at Suleja in Niger State, Karu in Nasarawa State and Shaki in Oyo State. These offices are now operational. Activities in Jigawa State, hitherto under the Kano State office also commenced since 2018.
HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT:
In 2018, a total of 237 staff were promoted comprising, 24 officers in the Directorate cadre, 171 senior and 42 junior staff thus clearing all backlog of staff promotion to engender increased job satisfaction and boost morale of the employees. The process for the 2020 promotion exercise is at an advanced stage.
The SON Management has also dynamized the organogram at directorate and other levels to create greater opportunity for staff advancement. Provision of working tools like computers, printers and furniture are taken for granted under the SON Management in the last three years. Management also engaged in massive training of 364 officers in various fields relevant to their schedules of duties across the board in accordance with the training plan for 2019.
STAKEHOLDERS’ SENSITIZATION WORKSHOPS:
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria in the last three years has become a household name going by its unprecedented presence in the mass media as well as social media. Activities of the organisation across the states, like sectoral stakeholders’ engagements, market surveillance, standards enforcement, consumer complaints resolutions are daily features in the mainstream media nationally and at state offices levels.
Aboloma’s management has also gone into massive youth engagement through the inauguration of standards clubs in primary and secondary schools coordinated by the SON State offices across the Nation. Members of the Standards Club are quality vanguards who are constantly educated on contemporary issues on standardisation to serve as SON Ambassadors amongst their peers and families. The programme is designed to catch them young in the efforts to make the Nation imbibe the quality culture.
SON has also been promoting standardisation among the Nation’s undergraduates through an annual essay under the auspices of the African Organisation for Standardization (ARSO) through an inter-ministerial screening committee. SON recently announced the national qualifiers for the 2019 continental competition with the theme “The Role of Standardization in Winning the Fight against Corruption for Sustainable African Transformation”.
To complement the reach out activities at the State Offices and in an attempt to bridge an identified gap in the programme, the organization has initiated a nationwide general sensitization scheme that targets key sectors and focuses attention on the economic diversification policy of the Federal Government. Some of the areas of focus include: Dangers of substandard LPG Cylinders
Standards as a Tool of Stemming Building Collapse. Metrology as support for Industrial Growth and Trade Facilitation. SON Act and the Ease of Doing Business. Good Governance and Anti-Bribery Management Standards as support for the fight against anti-corruption. Good Manufacturing Practices/Services for Quality Products/Services. SON Certification of Lubricants for economic growth.
Increased awareness on Environmental Management for sustainable Socio-Economic Development.
Importance of SON Certification of Liquified Petroleum Gas Tanks/Vessels.
The Negative Implications of Circulating substandard products in Nigeria.
Grains Regeneration for Food Sufficiency and Security. Promoting Agricultural Produce for Food Sufficiency, Security and Export. Stakeholders Understanding of SON Ports and Borders Operations for Trade Facilitation.SON Calibration Services for accuracy and traceability in measurements.
Aboloma’s tenure has not been without challenges though as the equipping, running and maintenance of its numerous laboratories, metrology services, training and management systems certification services. Coupled with the constant provision of required standards to promote trade and commerce are capital intensive endeavours, requiring continuous support in budget appropriation and development partners’ collaboration.
The vexed issues of preventing dumping of substandard and life-threatening products on the nation is a fight requiring strategic positioning of SON at the entry points and the support and collaboration of critical stakeholders in the overall interest of the nation’s economy and the welfare of the citizens. The organization continues to battle with issues of deliberate circumvention of its offshore conformity assessment programme for SON regulated imports, false declaration and forgery of import documents by unscrupulous importers, faking and adulteration of established certified brands amongst other challenges.
However, SON’s stakeholders’ engagement and collaboration activities have continued to yield high dividend as many standards enforcement activities being carried out by the organization stem from classified information provided by Nigerian through the SON 42 State offices, its interactive website and toll free lines, the ready support of the security agencies facilities the arrest and apprehension of substandard products purveyors while the office of the Attorney General of the Federation has been most supportive in prosecution of standards infractions.