…Stakeholders clamour for agency’s return to ports
By Ray Ugochukwu
Nigerians in the dangerous practice of importing fake and substandard goods into the country have been advised to channel the resources for such towards the establishment of manufacturing concerns that can create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.
By so doing, this would help to reduce the current spate of vices like robbery, terrorism, kidnapping, banditry, among others, that are of common place in the country.
The Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk Salim, gave the advice Thursday in Lagos, as he hosted maritime stakeholders in a sensitization forum at the Rockview Hotel, Apapa.
While urging Nigerians to stop the importation of substandard products into the country, he advised them to collaborate by utilising the same resources used in importing unwholesome goods to establish factories locally that could provide employment for the growing army of jobless graduates in the land.
The renowned pharmacist, who spoke on the theme “Standards Save Lives, Grow Economy”, pleaded with stakeholders to join forces with the agency to ensure the country’s prosperity, which he noted, translated to that of individual’s.
“Once again, I enjoin you as partners in progress to let us deepen our commitment to make Nigeria better, to let us cooperate and do the right things for our country to prosper which would translate to our own individual and collective prosperity”, he stated.
Salim observed that 80 per cent of the country’s imports came through the seaports and waterways, noting that since SON exited the ports since 2011, it had become more imperative for a collective fight against substandard goods in the system.
In his words, “Given that over 80 per cent of products imported into Nigeria come via the nation’s seaports and waterways and coupled with SON’s exit from the ports since 2011, it has become more important to collectively flush out substandard and unwholesome imported products from our markets while promoting the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) mantra”.
He observed that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was only doing random checking of 10 out of 100 containers coming into the ports and border stations, which he noted, had resulted in the high influx of substandard products into the country.
He added, “Suffice it to state that in addition to the mandate of SON as outlined in its Act No. 14 of 2015, the organization as the apex standards promoting institution in Nigeria is committed to protecting compliant businesses involved in local manufacturing as well as importation of quality products into Nigeria. We will leave no stone unturned to apprehend non-compliant and recalcitrant operators and make them face the law”.
The SON boss noted that regular sensitization and enlightenment of stakeholders was a major way of bringing maritime players on board the standard and quality voyage. He added that such forum “provides avenue for cross-fertilization of ideas, views, suggestions and solutions on how to move the nation’s economy forward”.
Meanwhile, many stakeholders at the event used the opportunity to canvass for the Federal Government’s review of its position on the return of the agency to the ports to strengthen its regulatory capacity and save the country from the influx of unwholesome goods.
Acting President of the Association Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, captured the position of stakeholders as he flayed unpatriotic importers, who out of greed, imported substandard products into the country to maximize profits.
Farinto, who spoke on “Juxtaposing Substandard Imports and SON’s Absence at the Seaport”, called on the Federal Government and managers of the economy to bring SON back to the nation’s seaports. He added that it was the best and surest way to stop substandard goods from coming into the country.
“The Standard Organization of Nigeria has vacated the seaports about few years ago; the intention of the government is to allow the agency do the role of regulation outside the ports. However, the increase in the imports of sub-standard goods and the effort of some nonconformist have shown that there is need to reverse this executive decision if we must win this war against importation of sub-standard goods in our country.
“However, we, as stakeholders have role to play; that is to ensure that we do not facilitate the clearance of such injurious cargoes. Sub-standard goods are goods deviating from or falling short of a standard or norm such as of a quality lower than that is prescribed by law.
According to him, “The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sub standard products as those products which are authorised but fail to meet their quality standards or specifications. Gentlemen/professional colleagues, once a product does not meet quality standard of specification such products are not supposed to be imported into the country because they are injurious to our health. It is rather unfortunate that, some unscrupulous importers out of greed will still want to import such products just to maximize profits”.
Many other stakeholders toed Farinto’s line of thought as they were unanimous in urging the Federal Government to urgently return SON to the ports, as according to them, it was better to checkmate the influx of fake goods at the point of entry rather than the wide market.