SON DG, Joseph Odumodu
By Crusoe Osagie
Traders and Manufacturers around the country last Friday besieged Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) so as to comply with the agency’s directive to register all products in the nation’s market and avoid the sanctions that would be applied after the May 21 deadline set by SON.
SON last week issued an ultimatum to all marketers and dealers in the country to rid their shelves of unregistered products from May 21 or risk forfeiting them to government as it launched the new convenient e-registration system.
Although stakeholders complained that the time frame for compliance was short and asked for more time to gather information and comply with the new regime, THISDAY gathered that many of them made effort during the week to begin the process, to enable them complete it well before the deadline.
A trader and member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) who craved anonymity, said the initiative was good but wondered why everything that is done in the country should be in a hurry.
“We like the idea that the quality and functionality of products in the nation’s market will be regulated by this initiative, but why this stampede. They should have told us since so we can begin to prepare ourselves”
The Director-General of SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, however noted that the measure had become necessary in the bid to safeguard lives, protect businesses and further reduce the prevalence of substandard products from its current level to about 30 per cent in a short period.
He further said that the new scheme would cover products that are already in circulation in the market, including electric bulbs, stabilisers, tyres, electric fittings, generators, building materials, cable, television sets, computers, phones, IT equipment, locks and keys, cement, paint, agro-allied products and toys among others.
He made the disclosure while launching the new electronic products registration process that allows you to register your products online and makes the registration of all consumer products compulsory for all manufacturers before such products could be displayed on the shelves for sale.
“This electronic process, would assist us in developing a data base of consumer products in the country; enhance traceability in our compliance monitoring activities, making it easy for us to trace any product and its manufacturer anytime the need arises,” he said.
He advised manufacturing firms to responsibly protect the product codes that would be given to them on the successful registration of any of their product in order to prevent their products from being faked.
“Within 90 days all products in the market place should be duly registered to avoid seizure of the products and prosecution of their sellers,” he said.
He advised all retailers, henceforth, to seek additional information when buying products from importers and manufacturers, explaining that in addition to protecting the consumers in the economy, it would also improve employment creation and income generation.
He said that the new scheme would cover all new products as well as those already in circulation in the market.
“With our collaboration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), we will withdraw and cancel the corporate name of any company found to be manufacturing unwholesome products as well as blacklist those companies who engage in importing substandard products,” he said.
He said that for now export-only companies who engage in only producing for export and not for consumption in their countries of origin have been banned from exporting into Nigeria since we are not to be used as a dumping ground for unwholesome products.
“This exercise is fully endorsed by the ministry of trade and investment and it marks another milestone against the backdrop of the broad economic objectives of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration on the one hand; on the targets that we have set for ourselves at SON on the other hand, and also in cognisance of the levels of success achieved in other economies of the world where the issues of standards and standardisation are taken seriously,” he said.
According to Odumodu, in order to sanitise the Nigerian economy of substandard products, some measures were key, some steps were just necessary, and introducing an electronic process for companies and organisations to register their products was one of such key steps.
In his remarks, Chairman of Aluminium Manufacturers of Nigeria, Olayinka Kufule, wondered why Nigerian business people would go to China and order the production of substandard products whereas the same China produces standard products for the United States and Europe.
He pledged the support of the manufacturing sector to SON’s campaign, noting that the verification process signalled government’s readiness to sanitise the markets and rid them of substandard products.
“Government’s willingness to empower regulatory agencies is a boost because it means that it will no longer be business as usual for the bad eggs in both the private and public sector who collude through various malpractices to flood the markets with substandard products,” he said.