Farouk Salim, DG/CEO SON
DG, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, has raised fresh fears that the influx of fake and substandard products into the country would ruin it and destroy its citizens if something urgent was not done to stem this tide.

Director General of the organisation, Mallam Farouk Salim, who spoke at a recent stakeholders’ sensitisation forum with the theme: “Standards save lives, grow economy”, which held in Lagos, disclosed that in addition to being barred from inspecting goods at the nation’s seaports, the agency is also not allowed to inspect imported goods at the various boned terminals spread across the country. This, he believes portends a great danger for the economy and wellbeing of the Nigerian people.

The DG, who painted a gory picture of operational challenges faced by the organisation, warned that the seemingly uncontrolled influx of fake and substandard products would destroy the local industry, which should ordinarily be the engine room for economic growth and development as well as creation of the much needed jobs for the teeming youth population.

“You know for nearly 10 years now, we are not allowed into the seaports, we are also excluded from carrying out examination of cargo at the bonded terminals, where so much consignments of arms and ammunitions have been seized. Recently at the Apo Market in Abuja, traders destroyed our vehicles and beat up our operatives.

“We do not have access to ASPAMDA, Alaba International Market in Lagos and the Abuja Market, if we do not have the permission of the unions, we would not be allowed into any of these markets to carry out our statutory functions. SON is like a boxer with his both hands tied to the back and is made to face a six-foot boxer with over 300 pounds of weight”, he lamented.

Addressing the freight forwarders and their principals; the importers, the DG insisted that they have a responsibility to ensure that the lives and future of fellow Nigerians were not ruined due to the importation of fake and substandard products into the country.

He cited several instances where homes have been destroyed with the attendant loss of lives of innocent Nigeria due to the importation of fake and substandard wire and other electrical equipment, which result to outbreak of fire, warning that whoever causes the death of another person would one day pay directly with his own life or indirectly with the life of his family members.

While pleading with the importers to turn a new leaf, he noted that the organisation does not derive any joy in destroying goods imported by them, but warned that it would not fold its hands and see a few non-patriotic importers ruin the future and wellbeing of the vast majority of the people through the importation of fake and substandard goods.

He said: “We try to sensitise one another and not to kill anybody’s business. Families have perished in this country arising from road crashes as a result of fake tyres and fire due to fake wire and other electrical products. You would probably make more profit if you import genuine products.

“I appeal to you all importers, as a nation, Nigeria already has a plethora of problems and so let us not compound the situation because the country cannot survive if we continue to flood the markets with fake and substandard products from other countries, the local industries will surely die.

“We install burglar proofs in our houses, hire may guard and Police operatives to enhance our security. Too many Nigerians are not employed. It is not about Buhari, Jonathan or the political class now, it is about us.

“For those of you, who have enough capital to import 100 containers of foreign made goods, you can pull such resources together and start producing in Nigeria and all of us will be the better for it. Our actions affect our nation directly or indirectly. As at now, there is no single tyre manufacturing company in Nigeria. Is it that the country is that poor?”

Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, Dr Kayode Farinto, one of the stakeholders, who spoke at the one-day event had lamented what they described as the seeming uncontrolled influx of fake and substandard goods into the country, saying this is dangerous and injurious to the local industry, especially at a time the Federal Government is making efforts towards diversifying the economy from over- dependence on crude oil revenue.

The stakeholders had also argued that the continued absence of SON, the country’s apex standards bureau from the seaports and other entry points has further worsened the influx of these unwholesome products, a development that urgently requires that the organisation returns to the seaports to curb this menace.

Farinto had while delivering a paper entitled: “Juxtaposing the absence of SON from the seaports and the worsening influx of substandard products”, noted that it was necessary the agency returned to the seaports immediately to save Nigeria from the looming danger.

He noted that the volume of substandard goods that flood the country’s market, has become increasingly dangerous and unsustainable which apart from weakening the local manufacturing industry, also poses a great danger not only to the citizens but the country’s economy as a whole.