Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is warming up to return to the nation’s ports as the Senate Committee on Industries restated its commitment to realise the dream.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Industries, Sen. Bayo Osinowo, made treh submission in a statement in Lagos after the committee’s oversight visit to SON’s laboratory complex in Lagos.
Osinowo, expressing displeasure at the absence of SON at the seaports, said that the situation was quite unfortunate.
He said the law that established SON states that the standards organisation must be present at the nation’s ports to monitor the standards of products being produced and imported into the country.
Osinowo said that in other climes, standard regulatory bodies were well represented at the ports to check the quality of goods before they would be allowed entrance into the markets.
“To this effect, Nigeria cannot be left out of this trend. It is unfortunate that SON is not at the port.
“When we set SON up, it was to monitor all the standards of the products produced and imported into the country.
“But, when we found out that SON was not at the ports, we have decided to address this by looking into it and amend it, because there must be an office for SON at the ports for its officers to carry out their mandate effectively.
“The legislature will look into the matter and make amend where it is necessary,” he said.
Osinowo said the purpose of the oversight function was to assess the level of work done by SON after being appropriated public funds to carry out their mandate to improve lives through quality assurance.
“The purpose of coming here is to see for ourselves and do appraisal of SON activities, especially on projects.
“We came to see how you have utillised and managed the funds given to you, and I must confess that going by what we have seen so far, I am very impressed with the level of work done so far.
“We are ready to support SON to ensure all the projects, especially the laboratory must be completed soon,” he said.
According to the committee chairman, if supported, SON will help to boost the manufacturing sector of the economy, while also eradicating poverty by creating job opportunities for the unemployed youths.
Also, a member of the Committee, Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi, said the committee was not impressed that SON was not at the point of entry where these goods were being brought into the country.
Nwaoboshi advised that the standards body must be equipped and given the opportunity to assess the goods before they enter the nation’s markets.
“For example, there are cables coming into the country, branded as Made-in-Nigeria whereas they were manufactured elsewhere.
“And, it is only SON that can discover these anomalies at the ports.
“So, we believe that the policy ordering SON out of the port is not correct,and they should be allowed back to the port to checkmate substandard goods,” he said.
Responding, the SON Director-General, Osita Aboloma, said the oversight function was to give the senate committee first hand information about the level of progress made so far in the wake of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“We are delighted to have you here for you to see what we do in ensuring standardisation and quality assurance.
“For you to see what we have been able to achieve with the money appropriated to us and our needs in terms of human and capital infrastructure needs.
“The journey so far in positioning SON to be ready for the AfCFTA to enable us to break barriers to trade has been quite tasking.
“This is why it is required of us to have laboratories to carry out tests of conformity to our standards or the harmonised standards agreed upon by continental bodies,” he said.
Aboloma said that Nigeria, through SON, “is leading other countries in harmonisation of standards”.
He said that there were 40 laboratories presently, where eight had been accredited and 20 undergoing accreditation to position them in readiness for the AfCFTA.
“All these we have been able to achieve through the appropriation to SON.
“What we had, we have managed judiciously, but we still need more as this organisation will be as efficient and powerful as the Senate and National Assembly will want it to be.
“We have capacity for infinite possibilities and all we need is more encouragement and assistance as we consider the senate as standards ambassadors.