By Miriam Humbe
As part of settling down to drive industry, trade and investment in Nigeria, the Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Osita Aboloma Esq. briefed the two Ministers of the Federal Ministry of Industry, trade and Investment, (FMITI), Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo and Ambassador Maryam Katagum on the recent achievements and challenges of SON.
Aboloma enumerated SON’s recent achievements as including a robust development process for market-driven standards as well as championing the harmonisation of standards within the West African region and the continent to promote seamless trading across borders.
Others according to him include near completion of an ultra-modern laboratory complex in Lagos as well as a National Metrology Institute in addition to an existing Engineering Laboratory at Enugu and a Textile and Leather Laboratory located in Kaduna as part of the development of the National Quality Infrastructure.
He appraised the Ministers on the Mandatory Conformity Assessment program (MANCAP) for certification of locally manufactured products and the offshore Conformity Assessment program (SONCAP) for imported products as part of measures to promote the competitiveness of made in Nigeria products and protect the nation from imported substandard and life-endangering products.
According to him, the recent revalidation of international accreditation of the SON Food Technology Laboratories for biological and chemical testing with increased scope of parameters are aimed at supporting the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government and timely for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade agreement.
Other areas pointed out to the Ministers include:
Ø International accreditation of the SON Management Systems Certification Service
Ø International recognition for the SON Management Systems Training Services
Ø Operation of 42 SON State offices and 6 Regional offices across the nation for daily factory inspections, market surveillance, awareness creation as well receiving consumer complaints and feedback for investigation and resolution
Ø Automation of its processes and introduction of electronic product registration to reduce human interactions and turn around time, electronic demand notes and receipts including for ports and border operations
Ø Sustained fight against influx and circulation of substandard and life-endangering products through the setting up of a rapid response squad and diligent prosecution of standards infractions with capacity support from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation
Ø Support for development and growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises through active participation in the Nationwide Clinic being organized by the office of the Vice President, 50% on purchase of standards, testing, certification and import permits for raw materials and machinery under the off-shore Conformity Assessment Program
The DG disclosed that SON has streamlined its processes to facilitate the ease of doing business in compliance with the Presidential Executive Order stressing that it has a close working relationship with the Ease of Business Environment Secretariat (EBES).
Aboloma also enumerated the organization’s major challenges as including its absence from the seaports to undertake quality verification and prevent the influx of substandard and life threatening products, funding for the completion and equipping of the National Metrology Institute in Enugu and improved staffing to strengthen the 42 State and 6 Regional Offices for greater reach and effectiveness.
He urged the Ministers to prevail on Agencies and parastatals under the Ministry to patronize the SON internationally accredited Management Systems Certification Services to serve as good examples to other Ministries, Departments and Agencies in compliance with the service wide circular from the Secretary to Government. This according to him is in order to promote the local content policy and save scarce foreign exchange expended in procuring similar services from abroad.
The SON Chief Executive also requested the Ministers to escalate the draft Nigerian National Quality Policy to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval to provide the necessary guide for the development and rationalization of the National Quality Infrastructure in view of the impending implementation of the African Continental free Trade Agreement.
Responding Otunba Niyi Adebayo and Ambassador Maryam Katagum, Hon. Minister and Minister of State respectively commended the SON Management and assured it of the Ministry’s unflinching support for all its agencies and departments towards achieving their mandates and effectively contributing to the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) of the government.