Eromosele Abiodun posits that the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation has exemplified quality management system and service delivery

The 20th Century witnessed an increased desire for quality management and standards in the production of goods and services. The growth in the quantum of production during this period prompted a steep rise in quality management systems.

The ISO 9000 quality management system standard is widely implemented worldwide and deals with quality and sustainability as well as their integration into organisations. The standards have been upgraded over the years with the ISO 9001:2015 being the most recent.

One particular feature that distinguishes a quality management system from many other forms of audit regime and certification is that it is a continuous process that places an obligation on an organisation to improve its effectiveness and efficiency. It also encourages organisations to keep pace with industry standards, as its operations come under periodic reviews by the regulatory body.

This was emphasised by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) recently when it presented certificates of conformity to the NIS ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System standards to a number of companies and organisations in the country. The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) was one of the recipients of the certificate. The certificate award was in recognition of the culture of excellence that guides the Foundation’s programmes and implementation of activities geared towards empowering rural Nigeria for a sustainable future.

At the presentation ceremony held at the company’s office in Ikoyi, Lagos, SON’s Director and representative of the Director-General, Engineer Obayi Bede, gave commendation to BATNF for its developmental strides in rural agriculture and communities nationwide.

In his address, Bede congratulated the company on the achievement and its unwavering efforts.
“It is heartwarming to recognise today the steps your organisation is taking. Your service offering in strengthening the capacity of community-based farmers, cooperative and agro-enterprise associations is very important to Nigeria, especially in the face of the prevailing economic challenges in the country and dwindling resources from the oil sector,” he stated.

Speaking on the importance of the certification, Bede said that, “The NIS ISO 9001:2015 reporting management system approach now provides you robust, globally recognised and acceptable solutions to address the challenges associated with managing internal and external issues and the risks associated with the business and harnessing the opportunities at your disposal. Achieving this certification is a demonstration of your management system’s conformity to internationally accepted standard requirements and the ability of BATNF to get it right at the first time and always.”

The adoption of NIS ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System frameworks, Bede added, “reflects your prudent strategy for sustainable rural agriculture and community development. I’m confident that your focus on service delivery and agriculture development will also strengthen your relationship with government.”

Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has implemented projects spanning water supply, environmental protection, vocational skills acquisition and agricultural development, thereby contributing to Nigeria’s sustainable development. In 2013, the Foundation focused on sustainable agriculture, implementing over 150 projects across the federation and improving the quality of life of Nigerians living in rural areas.

Mr. Ageni Yusuf, a BATNF Board member, expressed gratitude to SON for the certification. “It is one of the firsts presented to any national/private development organisation and we are proud of it,” he said. He pledged the Foundation’s continued partnership with and support for government as well as the private sector and NGOs in finding practical solutions to end poverty in the country.

In a similar remark, the Executive Director, BATNF, Abimbola Okoya, expressed delight in the recognition given the Foundation by SON, stressing the resolve of the Foundation to do more. “This is not just a certificate for today. We are going to uphold the standard. We will also ensure we test the pulse to ascertain how the Foundation has been impacting the lives of smallholder farmers and other stakeholders,” she said.

On the objectives of the BATN Foundation, she noted that, “We do not underestimate the importance of agribusiness in wealth creation or the value of smallholder farmers in ensuring that a nation can feed itself and export to other nations. Our development efforts as a Foundation are geared towards ensuring the fulfillment of this vision. In a bid to make long-standing impact on rural farmers, we have partnered with international organisations, including USAID MARKET II, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), amongst others.”

No doubt, the BATN Foundation ISO certification represents a giant stride in the organisation’s pursuit of excellence and it is expected to further spur it to greater accomplishments.