NIGERIA – The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in Thursday said discussions were in the final stages to ensure that from 2015, all imported products would carry the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) mark to curb the menace of substandard goods flooding the nation’s markets and threatening local manufacturers.

At the moment, only locally manufactured products carry this mark.

The Director General of SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, said the move, being undertaken in collaboration with the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), is to beam the floodlight on the imported products and ensure that they carry certification marks after due testing has been carried out by SON.

The SON Chief Executive, during a special interactive session with manufacturers in Lagos, called on them to contribute their own quota to ensure that the initiative succeeds.

According to him, all hands are on deck to ensure that only goods that are certified will be paraded in the Nigerian market.

”The level of substandard goods that come into the country is about 95 per cent of the total fake products in the market. In other words, when we impound 100 units of fake and substandard products in the market, 95 of them are imported products, made in other countries.

“Most products produced in Nigeria meet the minimum standards. I try to draw a correlation between that and local production, I want to say that you do not need anybody to prove it to you that Nigeria is going through a silent de-industrialisation process. It has happened in the last 25 years and it has continued to happen.

“All we have done in SON is intervening in the process but it has not stopped but continued to exacerbate. What this means is that employment opportunities are limited and industrial growth is challenged.”

What we are trying to do is reduce the level of substandard goods in the country by creating a very strong enforcement regime to the displeasure of people who have made billion of naira from the situation we found ourselves,” he added.

He also decried the continued patronage by consumers of substandard goods, pointing out that these goods have continued to thrive in the Nigerian market because consumers do not take the pain to check goods before purchase.

“The problem we have is that consumers do not take the pain to check and that is why the bad business has continued to progress. We also realised the need to connect with consumers and today for example, if you are involved in the tyre business, prior before now, nobody knew that tyres expire, and nobody knew that cement expire but Nigerians know today,” he said.

“The only outcome worth our while is when the consumer is protected. The most effective enforcement regime is an informed consumer who takes action because if a consumer takes action, we do not need to go and stop people at the ports,” he added.

In his words, “If a Briton walks into a shop and buys something different from what the label is saying, you are in trouble. Why do people not make trouble in the country, this is the kind of thing we must begin to challenge ourselves on. We also see that without the media, we will not be able to achieve the robust engagement with consumer. Everything we are talking about is rested on the consumer’s decision to buy a product.

The more a consumer buys substandard products, the more they trigger more containers to come in. There are people who bring 20 containers of substandard bulbs  every week and they are selling. It is just recently that they are under threat because we are testing and insisting that the ones that fails will be destroyed immediately,” he said.

He said the agency is working tirelessly to make made-in-Nigeria products competitive in the global market to create a more robust economy for the nation.

“We must continue to move away from trading that does not bring value to the table. Our economy should be growing a lot faster than the population growth otherwise we might all go hungry one day.

I will not support any SON official going to seal a local manufacturing company because of any violation or infringement except if they is a potential harm to be caused,” he added.

November 28, 2014;