By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has urged Nigerian manufacturers to produce products that meet international standards in order to successfully take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)
The agency has equally tasked all manufacturers to ensure that their products bear the logo of SON’s Manufacturers Conformity Assessment Program (MANCAP) in order to compete favourably in AfCFTA as well as in the global market.
Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk Salim while speaking on Tuesday in Lagos at a Capacity Building Workshop for Journalists organised by SON, stated that, apart from the Army, journalists have a great role to play in defending and projecting the image of Nigeria positively.
The theme of the workshop was; “Improved Synergy to Promote Standardisation”.
Under the AfCFTA regime, the SON DG urged Nigerians to be vigilant so as not to patronise substandard goods “because the impressions that would be formed from such would not be profitable for the country“.
He disclosed that the representative of SON had met with traders in markets such as Alaba, Ladipo, adding that the outcome of such meetings with some of the associations was beginning to yield fruits.
Salim noted that SON had made some changes in the past year to ensure that things moved smoothly for the country.
Explaining further, Salim said: “We’ve done enough enforcements, discussed how to stop all these things that are entering our country. We are working assiduously both within, outside and underground, to improve the activities of the organisation so that it can serve the country better.
“This is very important because we have the new African free trade, where goods will be crossing borders without too many hindrances.
“So, what that means for our country is, if our manufacturers are not producing standard goods, they will not cross over to the other countries, because other countries will set standards too and they will expect goods coming to their countries to be up to standard,” he said.
He noted that most countries would gladly stop products that were substandard from entering their countries so as to save their nationals from buying fake products and endangering their people.
“So, it is our responsibility as the SON to make sure our goods in this country are up to standard. We must make sure that substandard goods in the markets decrease.
“Governments should make sure that there are consequences and sanctions against any products or persons producing substandard products.
“We have to make sure that manufactured goods, building materials are up to standard because, in case of collapsed buildings, hundreds of people lose their lives.
“So, as an organisation, we know the weight of our responsibility and the job of the journalist is to keep us on our toes to do the needful,” he said.
The SON D-G also pointed out that it was very important for the tradition of investigative journalism not to die, adding that such would keep journalists on their toes and discourage the cut-and-paste approach.
“No country survives a quiet media, no country survives basic media that indulge is cut-and paste-media,” he said.
Mrs Chinyere Egwuonwu, Director, SON Standards Development noted that the organisation had a three-year plan which started in the year 2020 to aid standard implementation.
She added that the strategy was meant to ensure the needs of stakeholders were met.
According to her, 658 standardization projects were targeted to be developed and in 2020, a total of 274 standards were planned out of which 264 were achieved, making a 96 percent achievement.
“The Nigeria National Standardisation Strategy approved by the Standard Council of Nigeria was instituted due to constant improvement in science, technology and innovation.
“It is demand-driven, which comes from market needs and developed in line with international best practices. It needs the active participation of key stakeholders, and the uptake of the resultant standards for it to work,” she said.
Also speaking at the workshop, Mrs Tosan Akosile of SON MANCAP unit, stated that certification of locally manufactured product in Nigeria would facilitate trade in the AfCFTA.
According to her, any manufacturer that has the MANCAP logo on their product would compete favourably in AfCFTA and globally.
She added that the MANCAP builds consumers confidence and satisfaction, and that it also increases productivity.