The increase in the importation of substandard and counterfeit goods into Nigeria and the detrimental effects on people and the environment should prompt the Federal Government to consider the return of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) to the ports maritime authorities, experts and stakeholders in the maritime sector. sector voiced its opinion at a forum in Lagos.
SON Chief Executive Mallam Farouk Salim reiterated that the law establishing the agency authorized it to be the seaports with the 2015 Act, Section 7 (30b) stating that “the organization of the standard shall be at the port of entry into this country”.
According to him, the uncontrolled influx of counterfeit and substandard products into the country is killing the local manufacturing industry as no one or government agency is able to track these products.
Mallam Salim spoke at a SON outreach program for maritime industry stakeholders in Lagos on the theme “Standards Save Lives Grow Economy”
The SON helmsman also attributed the high rate of insecurity in the country to the importation of these counterfeit products.
claiming that in more organized societies, these importers and sellers of counterfeit goods would be tracked, arrested, and charged with manslaughter, among other punitive measures.
He explained that the purpose of the forum was “to make sure that we try to make each other aware of what we are looking for. When we consider a product to be of inferior quality, we are not here to spoil anyone’s products. We do this to protect your business and the people who buy the products.
“In other climates, when you buy a product and sell it to the public and the public gets hurt or is unhappy with the product, the seller would be sued. When you are sued you lose a lot of money, sometimes you can land in jail.
“but in Nigeria we haven’t reached that level yet, we have to grow to that level. Although we have the laws, we have not yet developed to the point where someone will go and buy substandard cables and resell them to Nigerians and be imprisoned for the havoc these materials are causing to human health or our environment .
He added: “They allow us to check goods from time to time, but that shouldn’t be the case because SON as an organization shouldn’t depend on the kindness of other organizations to do their job.
Speaking on behalf of customs brokers, the Vice President of the Association of Licensed Customs Brokers of Nigeria (ANLCA), Mr. Kayode Farinto, urged the government to allow the return of SON to seaports in order to win the war against the importation of counterfeit and substandard goods.
He said the government must immediately reverse the executive decision barring the agency from operating in seaports.
“SON was asked to leave the seaport due to the mistaken belief that it would improve the speed and efficiency of cargo inspection and release, but current realities have shown that this belief was not true and needs to be reviewed. Therefore, if Nigeria is to win this war against substandard products, SON must urgently return to seaports to impose government control. SON should also be listed on the Nigerian Customs Service portal,”
In addition, the President of the National Association of Government Licensed Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Tochukwu Ezisi, called for regular engagements between SON and other regulators and stakeholders, describing these exercises as important steps to improve their accountability within the organization and with their external audiences.