By Gboyega Oni
The Director General of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Osita Aboloma has declared that the greatest challenge SON faces in the fight against importation of substandard products is false declaration by customs licensed agents.
Towards curbing the challenge, Aboloma noted that the organization has initiated various electronic platforms such as e-clearance, e-demand note and e-receipt to simplify cargo imports and clearing processes/procedure and equally embarked on advocacy to educate all stakeholders particularly customs licensed agents on the danger of substandard products and document falsification to the nation’s economy.
Aboloma, who was represented by the Director Inspectorate and Compliance (ICD), Engineer Obiora Manafa, stated this at a sensitization forum in Port Harcourt for industry stakeholders on danger of substandard products and document falsification.
According to him, ‘’80% of Nigerian imports come through the seaports and waterways and it will therefore be difficult to ignore the maritime sector operators in the quest for zero import of substandard and unwholesome products in furtherance of the Federal Governments Ease of Doing Business initiative.
‘’The SON’s processes and procedure for imports and clearing such as the e-clearance, e-demand note, e-receipt and other electronic mechanisms have become innovative to make them seamless, with reduced human interface and encumbrances for a more efficient service delivery and quicker turnaround time,’’ he stated.
He pointed out that SON’s far reaching regulatory provisions under Act 14 of 2015 from pre-shipment, to warehouses, shops and markets, gives it power to arrest and prosecute importers and dealers in substandard goods in Nigeria.
”SON’s continued advocacy is to reduce substantially, seizure and destruction of goods, which are injurious to human lives, amount to large economic and financial losses and a threat to our environment. Our greatest challenge with cargo clearance is that of false declaration by clearing agents”, he said.
He appealed to the stakeholders to desist from false declaration, stressing that measures are in place to intercept such sharp practices and prosecute culprits, adding that SON’s collaboration with sectorial operators and stakeholders would help to spread the message in the drive towards zero tolerance for substandard, fake and counterfeit products.
Aboloma further described the forum as an avenue for adequate stakeholders’ enlightenment on SON’s regulatory tools and requirements and to disabuse their minds of negative issues relating to the Organisation’s enforcement of quality and regulations.
According to the SON boss, there was no better way to sensitize the industry than to collaborate with key players who have direct dealings with the importers.
Speaking at the forum, a seasoned customs licensed agent and Chairman Board of Trustees of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief Henry Njoku commended SON for creating an enabling interactive atmosphere and giving participants a sense of belonging. “This will go a long way in clearing lingering issues and also properly informing members of the association on the need to spread the information amongst clearing agents on doing things right”, he said.
Also contributing, Vice President of ANCLA, Dr. Kayode Collins Farinto, affirmed ANCLA’s readiness to work with SON in ridding the nation of substandard products, stating that improper documentation and false declaration are an anathema to the nation’s economy.