Want SON back in the ports
The recent call for the scrapping of the Standards Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) by a group of freight forwarders has been described as unpatriotic and if such call is heeded by the government, it may send Nigeria backwards in the fight against substandard and fake goods and products.
It would be recalled that some freight forwarders at a joint press conference in Lagos had asked the Federal Government to scrap SONCAP and advised the government to come up with acceptable Nigerian Standards for goods manufacturing.
The SONCAP is a product of conformity scheme designed by SON to help ensure that products imported to Nigeria meet minimum safety requirements.
Speaking on behalf of a group known as Concerned Nigerians in a statement made available to PortNews, Mr. Obicee Okonkwo, a seasoned licensed customs agent and former Publicity Secretary of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), described the call as faulty and unpatriotic.
“Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) is a very relevant agency that Nigerians cannot wish away. It is a life-saving agency and we are all interested in being alive, as well as interested in keeping our properties safe. Calling for the scrapping of SONCAP because some people don’t really understand the importance of the agency to Nigerian consumers is amazing. They should rather come up with suggestions on how to enhance its performance for the betterment of all. We know that in every society, there are people whose stock in trade is nothing but underhandedness; as it is said,” in every twelve there must be a Judas”.
“The Director-General of SON has rolled up his sleeves to work; what he is now saying and ready to do starting from the steel sector, by giving them three months to assess themselves, search themselves, and also evacuate all substandard steel products from their shops and warehouses or face the full wrath of the law is commendable. Nobody knows who is the next victim of building collapse or fire outbreak. So when one is calling for the scrapping of SONCAP, it amazes me. They should come up with good ideas and solutions to enhance the Conformity Assessment Programme, and also begin to do the right thing. To me, it might be that the person or group that called for the scrapping of SONCAP did that out of ignorance or was quoted out of context.
“I wouldn’t know about the group, but if l should know, l would also like to find out whether the group or individual was quoted out of context. All over the world, people talk about standards and quality, and a group is saying that the medium and the only mechanism that Nigeria is using to put in check substandard products be scrapped; l think they need to think again and think right” said Okonkwo.
Okonkwo maintained that having SON in the ports would yield great results ad put to stop the circumvention of SONCAP procedures and advised the government to return SON to ports.
“The importance of having SON back to the ports should not be overemphasized, From my own viewpoint as a stakeholder, l have always said that if SON is going back to the ports, would yield a great result which l believe it will; in our quest for winning the fight against importers of Substandard products, why not? The idea of people circumventing procedures of SONCAP and import permits is unacceptable. If we can get it right by putting in place one-stop shop, l think, it would be a plus.
“Every Nigerian is a stakeholder as far as standards and quality are concerned. So we should all support the new Director-General of SON, who, in a very short while, has shown capacity. SON must be given every necessary support to succeed,” said Okonkwo.