* Presidency gets 20 petitions
* FG cooks SMEs protection policy
The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Joseph Odumodu has alleged plans by some shippers and clearing agents to remove him from office over the organisation’s war against importation of substandard products into the country. Odumodu was appointed the DG of SON on February 1st, 2011, and as such will be four years in office in February, 2015.
Odumodu’s alarm came as the Federal Government has concluded plans to work out protection policy for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria and equally ensure that the guarantee needed for SMEs to access facilities from financial institutions are reduced.
Speaking on the sideline with MMS Plus Weekly, last week, in Lagos during the 2014 World Standard Day Stakeholders’ Forum for SMEs, Odumodu averred that shippers and clearing agents had written over 20 petitions against him to the presidency and other relevant quarters.
According to him, “they want to scuttle my bid for another term of 4 years. But they have failed because it is already in my pocket”.
He vowed that SON would continue to arrest containers on the highway, if they fail to comply with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria’s Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) rules.
“As long as they do not comply, they will find it very difficult with me as long as I remain the Director-General of SON,” he added, saying the Federal Government is working on a platform whereby goods coming into Nigeria must be in tandem with the standards in Nigeria from countries of origin of the products, noting that strategies are on-going to put the measure in place by next year.
Debunking reports that SON stops containers on the highway and extort money from shippers or agents, he said any consignment with permit or SONCAP only pays per container fee of N3,500.
The SON’s boss re-emphasised that, “I have a job to do and my job is to ensure that Nigerians are protected from the ill-effect of substandard products and anywhere they come from, such a person will not be my friend and anybody who brings in such product is actually looking for my trouble”
Odumodu added that SONCAP certificate is mandatory in customs clearance document in Nigeria and regulated products arriving at the country without the document will be subjected to delays and possible denial of entry.
In the spirit of the 2014 World Standard Day with the theme: Standards for Global Competitiveness, Levelling the playing field for SMEs, Odumodu announced that SON would certify 100 SMEs free of charge, while calling on all hands to be on deck to move the SMEs forward.
He said SMEs must be given opportunities to make a difference because if the 17 million SMEs in the country are able to take 17 million Nigerians off the streets, Nigeria would be a better place.
Calling on SMEs for specialisation and focus on areas of comparative advantage, he urged every SME to belong to an association which should queue behind the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) for standardization and access to finance for accelerated growth.
Also speaking at the event, the Director-General of SMEDAN, Alhaji Bature Umar Masari, who chaired the occasion on behalf of the Minister of Trade and Investment Dr. Olusegu Aganga, stated that the National Council on Micro; Small and Medium Enterprises, chaired by Vice-President, Arc. Namadi Sambo would meet soon to draw up a protection policy for the SMEs in the country.
Reiterating that the N220 billion MSME funds made available by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for finance SMEs in the country would not be accessed with collateral, he added that efforts were at advanced stage to ensure that guarantee needed for accessing of funds by SMEs from banks are reduced.
While the council is working on the harmonisation of multiple taxations discovered as a major problem militating against the growth of SMEs in the country, Bature added that the council would also harmonise the various institutional classifications and definitions of SMEs in the country.