By Miriam Humbe
The House of Representatives Committee on Industry has condemned the exclusion of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) from the nation’s entry points in spite of the provisions of the law that the agency carry out quality verification of imports. The Committee ascribed the prevalence of fake and substandard goods in the country largely to lack of quality verification at entry points.
The Committee Chairman, Dr. Enitan Dolapo-Badru, stated this during an oversight visit to SON facilities in Lagos, including the Operational Headquarters, Lekki, the Laboratory Complex, Ogba, Inspectorate and Compliance office Apapa and the Warehouse/Holding Bay, Amuwo Odofin.
Dr. Dolapo-Badru stated that customs officials’ assignments are to collect duty and do not have the requisite training and skills to ascertain the quality of goods imported into the country. “You do not expect the customs officer to carry out testing and analysis of products because he was not trained for that,” he said.
He promised that the Committee will work with the necessary authorities in the Executive arm of the Government to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the law relating to the presence of SON at all entry points to carry out quality verification of imports.
“There is an existing law and I wonder why the law is not being complied with. We are going to get to the root of this matter”, he said.
The Chairman asserted that many incidents of fires caused by substandard cables, building collapses due to substandard materials and other disasters as well as deaths would have been averted if SON was well positioned to prevent the influx of the life-threatening products at the Nation’s entry points.
“These substandard products were being imported and nobody checks when they come in because the agency that is supposed to check the quality of these goods have been evicted from the ports since 2011,” he said.
He expressed satisfaction with the level of work being done by the standards body particularly in product testing and analysis which according to him compares favourably with international best practices.
Dr. Dolapo-Badru commended the Management of SON in the diligent prosecution of standards infractions and urged the Director General to intensify efforts in that area to serve as deterrent to unscrupulous importers and distributors of substandard and life-threatening products.
He stated that the House would invite the Director General of SON and the Ministry concerned to review the law that mandates SON to be at the ports.
“A lot of building collapse would have been averted, probably a lot of fire outbreaks would have been averted, a lot of deaths would have been averted.
Briefing the Committee earlier during the facilities inspection, Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma commended the House of Representatives and the National Assembly in general for their support in enacting an enabling law for the organization that is futuristic, stating that SON has the capacity for infinite possibilities in effective service delivery, if given an enabling environment to operate.
According to him, the agency has invested so much in human and material capacity development to be at par with its counterparts all over the world. “If we are well positioned, we will do more; the task to rid Nigeria of substandard products is a responsibility for everybody. As members of the Committee on Industry, you are by extension standards ambassadors”.
He implored members of the Committee to advocate SON’s cause wherever possible. “We need to be well positioned to enable us carry out our mandate effectively and safeguard the lives of Nigerians through standards,” he said.