SENATE: ORDERS SON BACK TO THE PORTS
Contrary to the position of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) stating that Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) should not operate from within the ports, the Senate Committee on Industry has canvassed for SON’s return to the ports, blaming the influx of fake and substandard products into the country on the agency’s absence at the ports.
This was the position of Senator Sam Egwu, Chairman Senate Committee on Industry, when he led other members of the committee on an oversight visit to SON’s facilities in Lagos.
The committee described the policy as one that runs against the law and global best practices as it has failed in many ways to cater for the interest of users and consumers of imported items into the country thereby not giving adequate value for money.
According to the lawmakers, the directive ordering SON out of the ports 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 country.
Egwu 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 that 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 selling in Nigeria 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 to sanitise the Nigerian markets by getting rid of fake and expired products“
We have seen other laboratories in China, Kenya and 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 are 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,” he said.
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.
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.
“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 said.