The Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Dr. Joseph Odumodu, has disclosed the reasons why his organisation decided to strengthen the operations of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP).
To him, this is a way of making the agency achieve its set targets of reduction in the influx of substandard products and enhancement of Nigerian-made products compete favourably with their imported counterparts.
Odumodu told stakeholders at a review meeting of the new SONCAP that apart from being key to the realisation of his agency?s goal of zero-tolerance for substandard products, it is also in line with President Goodluck Jonathan?s transformation agenda which aims to create a friendly environment for investment drive into the Nigerian economy.
He said as far as the SON is concerned, the SONCAP has entered a critical stage of its implementation because of the increasing expectation of Nigerians, adding that the stakeholders? meeting has been scheduled to accommodate the opinions of operators.
Odumodu said it is in that light that the agency also decided to change the previous service provider, expressing optimism that the new service providers — Intertec, China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIC), Cotecna Inspection Limited SA and Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) — will deliver.
?In fact, we did not need to change the service providers we initially had if we wanted to continue on old paths,? he said, adding: ?We want a SONCAP programme that will serve its purpose; a programme that will be dynamic, where all the identified loopholes will be effectively plugged, thereby making it difficult for the plague of substandard products to continue to dominate the Nigerian business space?.
The director-general reiterated his earlier warning that the SON will not tolerate any lapses on the part of the service providers, as well as on the part of the importer — some of whom do not want to follow import guidelines.
He said importers who fail to follow the laid-down guidelines should realise they are undermining the integrity and essence of the SON and its mandatory roles.
He said the 2013 stance of the agency, especially using the instrumentality of the SONCAP, is to further reduce the incidence of substandard products in the country to 30 percent — saying to achieve this, all hands must be on deck.
According to Odumodu, ?We will appeal to you, even support where necessary; but of course, we will not compromise the stated standards. To this end, we want to say that, henceforth, the management of SON shall no longer tolerate lapses of any sort from unrepentant importers who want to perpetually de-industrialise this country?.
He said the meeting would have been successful if the stakeholders aired their concerns dispassionately, saying the agency is ready to play its part toward ensuring that entrepreneurs doing their business genuinely succeed.
Advising potential machinery importers to follow the laid-down procedure, Odumodu said: ?We are aware that the federal government — through an inter-ministerial Technical Committee on Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) which is domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) — may from time to time delete product (s) for regulation under the scheme.
?Appropriate notification will always be provided by the CISS through the CBN, and an adequate period will be allowed between the date of publicising the measure and its implementation to enable full compliance,? he added.
Odumodu said, under the new regime, importers are expected to undergo verification and testing at country of supply and a SONCAP certificate to be issued demonstrating that the products meet the applicable standard and regulations.
A highlight of the programme was the question and answer session which provided an opportunity to clarify ambiguous issues.