The House of Representatives Committee on Industry is insisting that only physical examination imported goods remains one of the surest ways to address the influx of substandard goods into the country.
The committee posits that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) does not have the capacity to test for goods at the entry point, maintaining that the absence of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) at nation’s ports is the reason Nigeria has become a dumping ground for substandard goods.
Chairman of the Committee Dolapo Badru, who express this displeasure during an oversight function at SON yesterday in Lagos contend that ordering SON out of the ports would only spell doom for the nation’s local products while putting the lives of many unsuspecting Nigerians at risk.
“We are very resolute in our efforts to make sure that issues hindering the agency’s operations are addressed because day in day out, we record lots of deaths from substandard products and several thousands of unreported cases of avoidable deaths happen and it is unthinkable that substandard iron rods, tyres, gas cylinders, generators and so many other things are being imported into the country and yet SON is being prevented from operating at the ports,” Badru bemoaned
He reaffirmed his committee’s commitment to returning SON back to the ports as soon as possible.
“It is so sad and we have risen to send a resolution backed by the house, but yet nothing has been done. Since then, there have been thousands of avoidable deaths. We insist that physical examination is the only way to stop influx of substandard goods coming in through the ports.
“It is in the act that sets up SON to be at the ports. We will on our own start up this process again and this time we will involve the leadership of the National Assembly,
“The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) are not trained in detecting substandard goods of any products coming into the country, so sending SON out from the ports is a recipe for disaster. We as a committee we have to take this up and we assuring you of our support to get you back at the ports because we cannot substitute ease of doing business with substandard products. We will go back to do the needful and by the time we come back we will have good news to share with SON,” he assured.
Earlier, the Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, urged the Senate to support SON’s quest to establishing more laboratories in the country, stressing that the agency is inundated with so many goods to certify, monitor and test.
“It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the only laboratory in the country that serves about 200 million people. The significance of your presence is the fact that you would see for yourself the amount of work we are doing and the amount of work we need to do in the future to make this country safer, to make our industries competitive and to protect our people from substandard goods, gas explosion and collapsed buildings,” he said.
He added that the oversight function cannot be overemphasized at a time when the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is in full force, stating that the need to develop the nation’s testing capacity to address unscrupulous elements who would want to use the trade pact to make Nigeria a dumping ground.
“Presently, our industries are at a disadvantaged position because they cannot export because we do not have enough capacity to test, monitor and certify local products, we need even more capacity to make sure that we train the small scale industries in the country.
“In that light, we have signed lots of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with state Governors to help SMEs package, label and manufacture their products and certification for exports. We have potentials to do even more and we have lots of responsibilities but little tools to work with. We still need more to do even more,” he said.
He added that SON would be increasing its collaboration with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) especially in the nation’s oil and gas sector, adding that SON recently just launched a more secured certification process to address issues of faking and forging of SON certificate.
The SON boss said it is taking the gospel of standardization to every part of the country, adding that most of the Governors that the agency has been privileged to meet have been welcoming restating their commitment to work with SON by way of providing lands for the establishment of State offices and laboratories.