Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to review it decision which restrict the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to access all ports and borders as part of strategy to effectively check the influx of substandard goods into the country.
The House made the plea following the adoption of a motion brought under urgent national importance by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu at the plenary yesterday.
He said that the exclusion of SON and NAFDAC from the list of agencies at all ports and borders was a clear signal for purveyors of substandard products and their collaborators that the road is wide open for nefarious and unpatriotic activities.
He said that the agencies since November 2011 have been out at all ports and borders on the order of the federal government.
Elumelu said: “Since the expulsion of SON/NAFDAC from all borders and ports, there has been unabated importation of substandard products into the country by unpatriotic Nigerians and this itself is one of the highest forms of corruption and threat to National security.”
He expressed concern that the ministerial directive expelling SON NAFDAC from all ports and borders was done without taking cognizance of the compelling need for SON to be at ports and borders in line with the requirement of the law.
The lawmaker noted that the reasons for the removal of SON and NAFDAC and other agencies of government advanced by the then Minister of Finance in 2011, was the slowing down of clearance of goods at ports and borders.
The minority leader however stressed that it was pertinent to note that those reasons are no longer tenable as clearance of goods are now done electronically in support of the diversification of the economy in line with the presidential directive on the ease of doing business.
Elumelu said that apart from countries that have established single window platforms for the inspection and clearance of goods at their ports and borders, all other countries have their standard bodies at the ports and borders to enable them prevent the influx of counterfeit and substandard goods.
He stressed the need for the physical presence of SON at the point of inspection to compliment the short comings of the electronic clearance, since it is impossible to access or ascertain the quality of goods being cleared electronically.
He expressed worry that no other agency can carry out the statutory functions of SON on its behalf at the ports and borders, as their function of quality assurance cannot be interchanged with any sister agency.
The House therefore urged “the federal government to review the order, thereby allowing SON in carrying out Its statutory mandate especially as it relates to checking the Influx and circulation of substandard 0nd the endangering products into Nigeria.”
It also directs its relevant committee on finance to have any interface with the Minister of Finance on the urgent need for SON to return to the ports and borders as part of the strategy required for it to effectively check the unprecedented influx of substandard/Iife endangering products into the country.
The House also resolved that there should be a pre-shipment inspection of the goods to be imported to Nigeria by SON.