The Senate Committee on Industry has declared that the absence of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) at the nation’s sea ports has not been in accordance with against global best practices.
According to the law makers, the directive ordering SON out of the port was a complete violation of the Act establishing the standards body, stressing that the law specifies SON to be at the points of entry to monitor goods coming into the shores of the country.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Industry, Senator. Sam Egwu, at an oversight function to SON offices and laboratories in Lagos during the week said, “Their absence at the ports accounts for the influx of substandard goods into the country.
“The agency that has the duty to check against the influx of these goods is not allowed to operate at the ports. We feel this is an aberration. It is not right, it is also against the law and we are going to take it up. I am sure the appropriate authority of the highest level might not be aware of this. SON is vital to safe guard the nation from these substandard goods.
“Take for example tyres today, we have so many fake tyres plying the Nigerian roads and this is one of the reasons why we have so many accidents on our roads because these products enter our markets without proper monitoring.”
He however scored the agency high for the judicious use of its 2017 budgetary allocation, stating that the commendation was a call to duty for SON not to relent on its efforts in its quest to sanitise the Nigerian markets.
“We have seen other laboratories in China, Kenya, Tanzania. I think what we are seeing here is something we are proud of. The State-of-the-art laboratories we have seen being installed here is commendable. We are commending you, but you still have a lot to do and must not relent on your oars. So far we are satisfied with what we have seen. We are going to come again to see the progress from what you have achieved today.
A Member of the Senate Committee, Senator. Jibrin Barau, said the Senate would do everything to encourage SON due to its vital role in safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians, saying that the impact of SON would also be vital for the growth of the nation’s local industries.
“Undue advantages give fake products edge over quality products and it is a very serious matter where only a body like SON can help to address. I think they are doing well. I am happy that they are getting facilities to make them operational and more effective in the country,” he said.
Barau added: It is really surprising to see that SON is absent at the ports in view of the functions they undertake in the laws establishing the agency. It is clear that their absence is against international best practices and no country allows it borders to be open to all sorts of goods without checking them. I think this is a big aberration. We will continue to put pressure so that you will not relent on your effort to keep Nigeria safe.”
Earlier, the Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, expressed its gratitude to the committee, pointing out that SON has made steady progress over the years under the leadership of the Senate Committee.
“We have never had it so good under any committee in the history of SON, not only did you bequeath a befitting SON Act, we have also been able to discharge most of our core mandate. I am also proud to tell the world that the issue of possession and co-ownership of the building where our operational office in Lekki is situated has been resolved in favour of SON due to your able leadership, “he said.
“We remain grateful for what you have done for us in terms of funding, we want to also seek your counsel to help us to discharge our core mandate of standardisation and quality assurance. I pray this will be the first of many more visits to SON,” he added.
The Senate Committee were taken to SON’s one-stop office in Apapa and its multi-billion laboratory complex in Ogba which is expected to have about 38 laboratories dedicated for testing life endangering items and food.
“We are ready to take up the challenges that come with standardisation and quality assurance. We have capacity for infinite possibilities, our laboratories are state-of-the-art, our personnel are world class and competitive with other global standards bodies. We still need your continuous guidance and support for us to stand out among other regulatory agencies,” he assured.
“We were ordered out of the ports because of some obvious reasons and it will also interest you to know that some of the reasons no longer exist and government in their wisdom has started returning some agencies to the ports.
We are ready to go back at any time whenever we are called upon. We still have faith in the government, we are still committed to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, but we will do better if we are better re-positioned because we have capacity to take on any responsibility that has to do with safeguarding the Nigerian populace through quality assurance,” the SON helmsman maintained.