Real Sector

‘We protect Nigerian manufacturers, citizens from dubious importers’

by SIKIRAT SHEHU

March 5, 2018 | 12:41 am
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Sunday Yashim is the Kwara State coordinator of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON). In this interview with SIKIRAT SHEHU, he reaffirms the commitment of his agency towards supporting local manufacturers and improving the standards of products in the country.

Tell us a bit about SON’s activities in Kwara.

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in Kwara State works in line with the general mandate of the agency spelt out in our new act, which is
SON Act No 14 of 2015.

Our activities involve inspection of factories to ascertain the conformity of products, which is the Mandatory
Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) policy of the organisation. We also carry out market survey where we analyse products to ensure
conformity with the Nigerian Industrial Standards.

Similarly, we buy imported products and analyse them to confirm that they meet the requirements of either the Nigerian standards or other international standards.
We create awareness in different places such as motor parks, schools, and markets, to make the public understand the implication of patronising sub-standard or fake products.
We organise seminars and workshops for our stakeholders in areas that we find out that there is a little bit of deficiency.

In spite of your efforts to checkmate counterfeit products, we still have them in circulation. What can be done to address this?

Sometimes, they bring in those items in the evening or early in the morning, things like used tires, and you know we cannot operate 24 hours. Those people who set out to sell counterfeit products or used items usually bring the items into the state in the midnight.

We have a sensitisation program (The Standard and You) every Monday for members of the public to avail us with useful information about their hideouts or warehouses.
So, if we get such information, we go to the premises where the counterfeit products are stored and seize them to save the
general public.

How do you deal with offenders?

With the recently amended act, the liability of substandard product is not only on the manufacturer or the importer but also on the distributor. If you are a distributor, you are equally liable and the law states the penalty clearly. In some cases, you are expected to pay fine, go to jail or do both fine and jail terms.

When it is established that you are distributing or imported substandard products, we look at the veracity of the problem and the items would be seized and destroyed, but if the quantity is large, we will not only seize the products; we will also take you to the court.

So, with the advent of SONCAP, before you can bring products into Nigeria, you must have seen our representative in your country where the product is manufactured for it to be tested in line with the requirements and certification of the Nigerian Industrial Standards. Or we use the standards of the country of manufacture to assess if the product to be sold to Nigerian customers is in line with the standards of the country.

Apart from that, there are international standards – ISO, IEC standard or African Regional Standards. When the products meet the required standards, then we issue SONCAP certificate before you can be allowed as importer to have access to money or official exchange rate.

Because of the stringent measures we put in place, they now divert their products to other sea ports or smuggle the products through the hinterlands. We still put policy in place to checkmate counterfeits and we are now going from warehouses to warehouses.

What should we expect from your agency in 2018?

Our plans for future are to improve on what we have been doing in the past and see what we can do to reduce substandard products. Also, we will carry out more awareness to the general public, which is why every Monday, the organisation has a program in both Channels TV and NTA.

In Ilorin precisely, we have mapped out substandard products that we have around and we have intensified efforts in terms of advocacy and training of manufacturer and dealers. On the 6th February, we organised a seminar for welders whereby all welders in Kwara State were trained.

If you look at all the products that are fabricated locally, when you compare them with others elsewhere, you will discover serious differences. So, we want them to understand that even in welding, there are standards that they are supposed to apply. If you do it well, people will definitely patronise you and you can even export your products to other countries.

What are some of the challenges confronting you?

We have challenges within and without. The internal challenge is that we have only one official vehicle in the state, so we are looking forward for additional vehicles from government or any stakeholder, knowing that our activities are mainly to save lives and ensure that people get value for money on anything that they buy or intend to sell.

The external problem is to actually get the support of the people to understand all our activities, because at times, when we are carrying out our responsibility, we find out that some people are not aware of what standardisation and quality assurance are.

In some cases, we have to involve security personnel. Another problem is that of smuggling of goods into the state by traders or distributors and that is where we have a serious challenge. we have been trying to see how we can tackle it effectively.


by SIKIRAT SHEHU

March 5, 2018 | 12:41 am
12893  |   93   |   0  |   Start Conversation

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