Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga
By Crusoe Osagie
The Federal Government weekend, stated that it is observing the impact of the exit of regulatory agencies such as the National Agency for Food Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) from the Nigerian ports.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, who spoke during the maiden Nigeria Quality Summit said although trade facilitation is the number one priority of government, it would also ensure that its regulatory agencies have all the tools they need to effectively carry out their given mandates.
“The number one priority of this administration is to ensure that trade happens unhindered and this is the reason why agencies such as NAFDAC and SON were withdrawn from the ports. However, we are still observing the situation and if it necessary for any adjustments to be made to enhance the effectiveness of these agencies towards improving the lives of Nigerians, we will not hesitate to look into it,” he said.
According to him, five regulatory agencies were asked to leave the ports by the federal government earlier in the year in order to cut down the transaction time at the ports. But some of the agencies due to this policy may have lost significant capacity to deliver on their mandate because the ports are an important component in the process of intersecting unwholesome products.
Also speaking at the event, the Director General, SON, Mr. Joseph Odumodu, said the summit was in continuation of the celebrations in Nigeria of the 2012 World Standard Day with the theme ‘Less Waste, Better Results-Standards Increase Efficiency’.
He stated that the imperatives of standards as a tool for increased efficiency in all activities cannot be over-emphasised, maintaining that the case of developing economies like Nigeria was even more critical given the myriad of challenges confronting the nation such as the hydra-headed dumping and circulation of substandard products, which has led to avoidable loss of lives and properties, undermined the security of the nation, impoverished the people and negatively impacted on the economies.
“The above challenges thus necessitate quick switch especially by the developing economies to any method or process that could assist and fast track increased efficiency in our various institutional arrangements with attendant positive impact on capacity utilisation, employment generation, general economic growth and the wellbeing of our people in line with the transformation agenda of the government,” he said.
In his words, “The overwhelming participation by stakeholders here today, including the mass media is a pointer to the fact that we are all determined to be a part of the process of change being championed by the Federal Government for Nigeria to take its rightful place in the committee of nations.”
He pointed out that Nigeria has the potential and indeed the capacity to become vibrant and stronger to compete favourably with the developed economies of the world, and said standard remains one of the key tools towards achieving this feat.
Aganga stressed the need for strict adherence to standards in the nation’s manufacturing and service industries, saying that it is sine qua non to trade facilitation as well as attracting investment to boost economic growth.
“Not to take anything for granted, I commissioned a study to help us uncover the extent of substandard goods prevalence and the report was damning. Nigeria had 85 per cent fake and adulterated goods prevalence in consumer goods,” he said.