As part of efforts to streghthen the nation’s fight against substandard products via imports and indigenous production, the federal government has revealed plans to establish a National Quality Policy.
Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Hon. Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo revealed this while speaking at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) in Lagos, yesterday.
Adebayo, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. (Mrs.) Evelyn Ngige expressed delight that the agency has lived upto the expectations of the government and the entirety of Nigerian citizens.
She, however, stressed that with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), SON must play its role in maintaining standards and ensuring continuous improvement in quality of products manufactured in the nation as well as imported goods.
According to her, the consistent high-ranking of SON by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has been a welcoming development and it has raised the profile of the supervisory ministry.
While encouraging the agency to continue to live up to its mandate in testing products designed for the Nigerian market, she assured that the agency would continuously receive the necessary support from the federal government.
“I’m delighted to be here today, especially for the launching of the compendium and awards to some members of staff at SON. I commend and congratulate the members of staff for 50 years of golden jubilee in efficient service delivery. The calibre of persons here is an attestation that the public is pleased with the activities of the Agency,” she said.
In his remarks, the Director General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim noted that in the last two years the agency has concentrated on critical areas that add value to the industry such as; strengthening the National Metrology System, in particular raising the profile of the National Metrology Institute Enugu as a significant component in Nigeria’s overall standardisation activities.
Salim also highlighted the faithful implementation of the Nigerian National Standardisation Strategy as the framework of the development, and the publication of National Standards and increasing SON’s technical competence in Conformity Assessment services through the accreditation of our Product Certification Department.
He, however, recalled the agency’s long journey in attaining quality standards in the nation, stating that the journey commenced in earnest with factory inspection and other routine quality assurance activities.
“In the very beginning, our staff visited factories for inspection using commercial vehicles as most of them had no private vehicles of their own. Sometimes, they were allowed to carry out the required inspections while in some instances, they were not. With the passage of time, SON purchased a number of Volkswagen Beetle cars for use by staff. I am told that five or more staff will squeeze into those tiny little cars to go for factory inspection.”
“Over the years, as the vehicles became stuck in the legendary Lagos traffic jam, meandering between reckless molue and danfo drivers, they often broke done. I am happy to note that the industry has realized the enormity and the relevance of the work of SON, began to assist with vehicles to facilitate the movement of its staff,” he said.
While he commended the valuable feedback received from the industry which he described as ‘impactful’, he encouraged more responses via calls, text messages or social media channels to report substandard products in the Nigerian markets.
Also speaking, the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Otunba Francis Meshioye expressed delight that SON has been in the forefront in the war against the importation of substandard products into the country, even as he encouraged the federal government to increase its revenue allocation to the agency.
“In this era where we have the AfCFTA, this means goods will be coming in and exiting the country easily. Manufacturers concerns is that we should be able to have products of good quality that would compete favourably with others from other nations. This would improve Nigeria’s international trade and promote the country’s industrial sector,” he said.
Meshioye commended the immense focus the agency currently displays in maintaining standards, noting that this not only applies to imported products, but also goods produced in Nigeria to enable them be able to compete with other goods across other nations of the world.
The event was also graced by several eminent national personalities including former Director Generals of the agency who gave insights to the historical developments at the agency and lauded the victories attained by the present administration.