The Senate Committee on Industries has restated their commitment to return the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to the nation’s seaports.
Besides, the Senate Committee stated that in other climes, standard regulatory bodies are well represented at the ports to check the quality of goods before they gain entrance into their various markets, saying that Nigeria cannot be left out of this trend.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Industries, Senator Bayo Osinowo, during an oversight function of SON’s laboratory complex in Ogba, Lagos said it is quite unfortunate that SON is not at the port, saying that the law establishing SON states that the standards body must be present at the ports to monitor the standards of products being produced and imported into the country.
In his words, “It is unfortunate that SON is not at the port, when we set SON up, it was to monitor all the standards of the products produced and imported into the country, but when we found out that SON was not at the port, we have decided to address this by looking into it and amending it because there must be an office for you at the ports for you to carry out your mandate effectively. The legislature will look into the matter and amend it where necessary.”
He said the purpose of the oversight function was to assess the level of work done by SON after being appropriated public funds to carry out their mandate to improve lives through quality assurance.
“The purpose of coming here is to see for ourselves and do appraisal of SON activities, especially on projects. We came to see how you have utillised and managed the funds given to you. I must confess that going by what I have seen so far, I am very impressed with the level of work done so far. We are ready to support SON to ensure all the projects especially, the laboratory must be completed soon” he said.
According to the senator, if supported, SON will help to boost the manufacturing sector of the economy while also eradicating poverty by creating job opportunities for the nation’s teeming unemployed youths.
“In supporting SON, the agency must do the needful by following due process then,we will be able to approve your 2020 budget,” he added.
A member of the Committee, Senator, Nwaobosh Peter, said the Committee is not impressed that SON is not at the point of entry where these goods are being brought into the country, advising that SON must be equipped and given the opportunity to assess the goods before they enter the nation’s markets.
He added: “For example their cables coming into the country branded as made-in-Nigeria where as they were manufactured somewhere else, so it is only SON that can discover these anomalies at the port. So we believe that the policy ordering SON out of the port is not correct and they should be sent back to the port to checkmate substandard goods.’
Responding, the Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, said the oversight was to give the Senate Committee first hand information about the level of progress made so far by SON in the wake of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“We are delighted to have you here for you to see what we do in ensuring standardization and quality assurance. For you to see what we have been able to achieve with the money appropriated to us and our needs in terms of human and capital infrastructural needs. The journey so far in positioning SON to be ready for the to enable us break barriers to trade has been quite tasking and this is why the standards requires us to have laboratories to carry out tests of conformity to our standards or the harmonized standards agreed upon by continental bodies,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria through SON is leading other countries in harmonization of standards, adding that there are 40 laboratories presently, where 8 has been accredited and 20 undergoing accreditation to position them in readiness for the AfCFTA.
“All these we have been able to achieve through the appropriation to SON . what we had, we have managed judiciously, but we still need more. This organisation will be as efficient as powerful as the senate and National Assembly will want it to be. We have capacity for infinite possibilities and all we need is more encouragement and assistance. We consider the senate as standards ambassadors. Quality assurance is a collective effort because we cannot do it alone. We need more ambassadors to advocate our course to let people know that there is no other alternative to getting it right than doing the right thing, so if you see something unwholesome say something to SON. Keeping Nigerians safe is a task we must all work together to achieve,” he said.