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SON (Standards Organization of Nigeria) And Sub-standard Goods

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This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: SON And Sub-standard Goods

14 June 2011

The Nigerian economy is heavily dependent on goods shipped in from abroad. But the news from the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) the agency empowered to ensure that imported goods conform to standards - is troubling.

Dr. Joseph Odumodu, the newly appointed Director General of the agency has alerted the nation of an Armada of fake and substandard goods that are headed for the nation's shores. Even more worrisome is his disclosure that the country is already has a surfeit of adulterated goods, some of them aided in by his crooked subordinates.

The quantity of the coming goods is big enough to raise public anxiety. According to reports, more than 90 per cent contents of the containers that come through the nation's seaports are substandard. The market value of the goods in contention identified mainly as electronic and automobile materials (Toyota's car parts) is in excess of N200 billion.

It is bad enough that Nigeria has become a dumping ground for all sorts of goods, yet, it is worse that most of these goods are spreading risk, sending many of their consumers to their early graves; a fact acknowledged by Odumodu when he said, "on a daily basis, people lose their lives due to various substandard products in the building, automobile and electrical catalogues". Odumodu blamed the trend on the inefficiency of the use of SONCAP for standardization, inadequate hands to check on the containers and insufficient laboratories to test the efficacy of products. These are curious excuses.

The problems he raised are formidable and discomforting. Daily, the nation is inundated with reports of buildings going under in perplexing circumstances, weird motor accidents and of killer drugs.

The pervading poverty in the nation has compelled many Nigerians to patronise used products, many of them substandard. The radioactive effects of used and decaying electronic goods like computers, refrigerators and television sets on the health of the nation have not been quantified, but it would be substantive. As someone argued, poverty provides breeding grounds for international diseases.

Even so, many so-called brand new products imported into the country do not fare better as their usages have occasioned widespread complaints. The automobile and the drug markets call for special mention. Though we have many importers who are solely motivated by profit, the business ethics of many of the exporting countries, particularly China and India are also questionable.

We commend the Director General for his efforts to sanitize the marketing environments by building more laboratories and swapping SON officers at the Ports whose conducts are suspect, besides setting up a parallel supervisory team to monitor importation of goods. But these are not sufficient because the big importers will not stand by to watch.

They will fight back with all the powers at their disposal as these measures would deprive them of hefty profits. We also believe more equipment and facilities can be procured with enough personnel trained to operate them for maximum effect. With a raging cry of unemployment in the country, SON should not lament "lack of adequate hands". They should hire and train more hands to do the job.

Thus we suggest that in addition to the agency's measures, frequent and unannounced raids should be carried out by the regulatory agencies in all major markets to confiscate fake goods. Our laws seem lenient on those who breach them. In order to combat the scourge of importing substandard and unwholesome goods, we think that the laws should be strengthened. Moreover, the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria which proclaims itself as a "dynamic" agency has to do more by enforcing standards. Nigerians must have access to its services.

It should sensitize consumers and intensify its collaborative efforts with related agencies to protect the rights of the consumers. More important, the scourge of fake goods will persist until the nation provides the enabling environment for the manufacture of local goods.

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Updated 6 Years ago

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