SON DG, Joseph Odumodu
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has appointed new Independent Accredited Firms (IAF) to manage the revamped SONCAP regime, urging them to earn the confidence reposed in them to effectively check the influx of substandard products into the country, as the agency would not tolerate lapses from them.
The SONCAP regime, which is an offshore assessment programme for goods to be imported into the country, was introduced in 2005, but, apart from some initial recorded success the programme became less effective after a while, as importers of substandard products were able to find a way round it, which has now led to the introduction of a new SONCAP and new providers.
Signing the new agreement with the IAFs in Lagos recently, the SON Director General, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, stated that with the new SONCAP, SON can now guarantee the integrity of regulated products that enter containers bound for Nigerian markets.
He said there would have been no need to change the initial service providers if SON wanted to continue on old paths. “We want a SONCAP programme that would serve its purpose; a programme that would be dynamic, where all the identified loopholes would be effectively plugged, thereby making it difficult for the plague of substandard products to continue to dominate the Nigerian business space,” he said.
He said that as far as SON was concerned the zero tolerance of substandard products has entered a critical stage, because of the increasing expectations of Nigerians and the need to increase the consumer demand for made in Nigeria products.
“As regulators, we are here to say that we would not tolerate lapses on the part of the service providers. We would rather expect you to adhere to the terms of the agreement we earlier reached and if there are issues that are affecting your operations, we would expect you to raise them, otherwise, we would expect the best of service delivery from you,” he told them.
He also stressed the high level of confidence reposed on the service providers by SON, according to him, “the agreement we are to sign here today is a demonstration of that confidence, but again, confidences so reposed need to be earned.”
He explained that under the new regime, before any regulated product is packed and shipped into the country it must be sampled at the country of origin and the container duly sealed to prevent any tampering and substitution of certified products.
He disclosed that SON underwent a rigorous process to arrive at the choice of the four service providers, stressing that each of the companies possessed the technical competence to handle the new SONCAP regime, having worked in other countries where similar conformity programmes were running effectively.
“I believe that today Nigerians would have a cause of relief as we see a big reduction in the problem of substandard products. Local manufacturers would now also be able to produce more and many new jobs would be created in line with the aspirations of the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan,” he enthused.
Responding the Vice President of Intertek, David Gregory, disclosed that the new system was far more robust with a lot of safe-guards which the old one did not have. He assured that the company was staking its integrity to ensure that only the right standard products are issued the SONCAP certificates.
According to the Chief Operating Officer of Cotecna, Mathieu Delorhe, “we are not new to Nigeria and we are quite conversant with the situation in of substandard products in the country; also we bring ideas from other horizons and we plan to constantly improve on the security of the new SONCAP.”
Odumodu informed the new service providers of the need for them to play their parts effectively in line with SON’s stance to reduce the incidence of substandard products in Nigeria by 30 per cent this year and also increase the international and national profile of the supervising ministry of trade and investment.