By Felix Khanoba
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on the Federal Government to properly position personnel of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) at the nation’s entry points to ensure effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) deal.
The National Vice President of MAN, North West Zone, Alhaji Ali Madugu, made the call in Kano while receiving the Director General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, who was on a working visit to the state, recently.
According to a statement made available to The AUTHORITY by SON’s spokesman, Bola Fashina, Madugu said there is serious need to ensure that SON carries out quality verification of all imported products including those from West African countries, even with the rule of origin in the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.
According to him, the commencement of the AfCFTA further underscores the need for SON’s presence at the entry points to prevent Nigeria from being turned into a dumping ground of substandard, fake and counterfeit products from other African Countries.
He acknowledged the need for product authentication as an additional tool to fight faking, adulteration and unfair competition with substandard products in the market and urged SON to look at the best way to implement it without putting genuine manufacturers at disadvantage in terms of cost and the procedure for compliance.
While commending Mallam Salim’s approach to addressing the concerns of about 140-member strong, North West branch of MAN, Madugu called on SON to ensure decentralisation of itd testing facilities through building of additional laboratories across the country, including Kano.
He also made a case for easy processing of import documents without necessarily visiting SON Headquarters in Abuja, greater protection of local manufacturers’ MANCAP certified products from adulteration and faking of their brands as well as an end to unfair competition with substandard imports.
Other members of the North West Branch of MAN Executive Committee called for an upgrade and enlightenment of members on the SON offshore conformity assessment programme (SONCAP) portal, as well as the inspection procedure, sampling and testing relating to the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) for locally manufactured products.
Responding, Mallam Farouk Salim said SON was set up to provide technical assistance and support to genuine local manufacturers as well as protect them from unfair competition from substandard products.
He acknowledged their sacrifices through investment in infrastructure, creation of job opportunities and regular payment of taxes as part of growing the nation’s wealth and assured them of his commitment and support.
He said : “We need to partner with MAN to protect genuine manufacturers and legitimate importers by sharing intelligence to apprehend and prosecute standards infractions. With adequate consequences for actions, most people will follow the rules.”
Speaking further, the SON boss decried the current situation where the Organisation is unable to carry out quality verification of all its regulated imported products at the points of entry or accost suspected substandard products outside the ports.
Salim stated that efficient service delivery remains his focus and invited MAN to join forces together with SON for collective success in the interest of the nation’s economy and the wellbeing of its people.
The SON Chief Executive assured MAN and other stakeholders that the Organisation will soon roll out a seamless and robust deployment of information communication technology to enhance the agency’s delivery of efficient services and an appreciable reduction in turnaround time for standards development, product certification and registration amongst others.
He called on MAN members to work with SON to further protect their brands through the deployment of a product authentication scheme to empower consumers at the point of purchase.