Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Osita Aboloma, has again urged the Federal Government to allow the agency to return to the ports to effectively curtail the influx of substandard products into the country.
Speaking during a sensitisation programme for port operators in Lagos with the theme, Facilitating Trade Through SON Automated Services; Aboloma lamented that chasing substandard products all over the country rather than waiting for them at the ports and border stations has been challenging to the regulator.
“It is important to note that non-involvement of SON at some Ports in the country’s operations has continued to pose challenges particularly to the agency’s compliance and monitoring units.
“It is easier to fight the influx of substandard products at the points of entry than chasing them around all over the country in markets and warehouses, among others,” he said.
He stated that over 75 per cent of the products imported into the country daily, monthly or yearly come through the seaports and waterways, saying it would, therefore, be difficult to ignore the maritime sector operators in the quest for zero imports for substandard and unwholesome products, as well as the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Policy.
Aboloma, who was represented at the event by SON’s Director of Operations and Compliance, Obiora Manafa, however, assured participants that SON’s purpose was not to destroy people’s businesses or sources of livelihood but to protect Nigerians from the hazards of substandard products.
“This is our key mandate and primary responsibility,” he added.
He noted that earlier this month, SON destroyed N480m worth of substandard mobile phones, late last year, the organisation also destroyed 5000 fake gas cylinders valued at N51.3 million. These are just two examples of a routine activity that promotes quality in our country.
This came as President of the umbrella body of Customs Brokers in Nigeria, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike, said imported substandard goods have cumulatively cost his members over N2b yearly.
He said, “The task is daunting but we are not relenting because customs brokers have suffered an estimated cumulative loss amounting to over N20b in the last 10 years for undertaking to clear goods discovered to be substandard over N2b yearly.
“Upon seizure of suspected fake or substandard goods after payment of duty, it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an importer, whose consignments were seized to pay the balance of the agreed sum, even after the broker has spent his money on logistics.
“This is just a mild analogy of the costly price we as professionals are paying to achieve standards and build an enduring economy that will be beneficial to all,” he stated.
Nwabunike said destroying investment channeled wrongly towards fake and substandard goods may look harsh, “but preventing deaths, injuries and pains of buying poor standard imported items is a great humanitarian task, for which I commend SON for saving lives.”