The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is collaborating with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to establish office at its cargo village, where it will certify farm produce and other products that are ready for export from Nigeria.
With such certification, the farm produce will be accepted by destination countries. The essence is to enhance the volume of goods exported, as more countries will develop confidence in produce from Nigeria.
This was brought to the fore on Tuesday when members of the Aviacargo Committee, established by FAAN, was led to SON headquarters in Lagos by the agency’s Managing Director, Mr. Kabir Mohammed, for a facility tour of the organisation.
The Standards Organization of Nigeria is a government agency responsible for setting and enforcing standards for products and services in Nigeria. The organisation was created to promote and ensure quality in Nigerian products and services, thereby protecting the health and safety of Nigerian consumers. SON is a parastatal organisation under the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, and it operates in all 36 states of Nigeria.
With operating office at the cargo village of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, exporters of perishable goods will find it easier to subject their exports to scrutiny and ensure they are certified before export, so that they will not be rejected at the destination country.
The visit threw more light on the critical functions of the agency and the role it plays in regulating products and services in Nigeria.
Its responsibilities include overseeing the activities of manufacturers, certification of products, consumer protection, standardization of manufacturing practices in Nigeria, assisting the government in good policymaking, acting as an interface between Nigeria and the world and promoting safe practices in trade and manufacturing.
Speaking on the importance of SON in boosting Nigeria’s exports, the Coordinator of the Aviacargo committee, Ikechi Uko, said Nigeria has good products with necessary regulatory and certification agencies but lacked good branding and promotion.
He said Nigerian government invested in SON but its presence is not being felt in Nigeria.
“We need to propagate the activities and credibility of SON. Nigeria has the products but the branding is poor, there are markets that are just waiting for these products, we only need to identify them while Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with other countries will go a long way in promoting our goods and services,” he said.
Uko said that Nigeria is number one producer of most goods in Africa, but these goods are being rejected because they don’t meet the certification of many destination countries and Nigeria cannot grow its export with rejection of its produce.
“For us to grow our cargo we have to involve the labs. Our produce must be tested here (in the SON facility). Labs can help solve the problem. Our desire is to make labs intrinsic part of our team. We decided to go to labs to that there are labs that can do this,” he said.
The Coordinator of Aviacargo Committee also said that standard of products and services was set by SON, and that the agency needed to be put it in the limelight so that it will have credibility and acceptance both at home and abroad because of the critical role it plays in standardisation of products in Nigeria.
In a speech, the Director of Laboratory Services of SON, Mr. Richard Adewunmi, said the partnership with FAAN was important because the certification of Nigerian products remained very important because of the need to put the country’s goods on the global market.
According to him, “SON is internationally accredited, for instance, there’s a standard required for training and it’s the same globally but “we need more partnership with other countries to enhance our certified products.”
Also speaking, the Director of Training Services, SON, Timothy Abner, said tests were conducted at minimal cost at the agency, adding that the primary duty is to first protect Nigerians before profit.
“We have enjoyed the support of government, its doggedness has brought us this far. The laboratories are accredited and accepted globally, they are accredited by the Americans” he said.
Explaining the difference between registration and certification, Adewunmi said there was no conflict between NADAC and SON, adding that registration is quite different from certification.
“This is to let Nigerians know that registration is different from certification. NAFDAC provides registration, while SON gives certification. The only challenge we have is educating people on the activities of these agencies. Farmers, exporters and others need to know this, they need to also know about the process their produce need to pass through to avoid rejection in the country of destination. For instance, there are different packages for different markets. Once people are armed with information, there will be no conflict,” he said.
Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Kabir Mohammed, while responding to the issue of adulterated aviation fuel, said SON remained the only agency that has the expertise to test and certify Jet A1 and other petroleum products.
He said though the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) remained the regulatory agency charged with the duty of supervising the petroleum industry operation and processing industry applications for leases, experts at SON have the requisite training for regulations of jet fuel.
Mohammed, who was once a senior staff of SON said: “We told authorities that officials of SON needed to be at the point of the process of testing aviation fuel but they were kicked out. The DPR may not have the necessary expertise, because those who have the expertise have been kicked out. We had meetings with DPR but they blocked SON out of the regulations of Jet fuel.”