Past government policy undermines SON’s efficiency
• Many cancer cases may be linked to poor chemical used on commodities
Despite being empowered by the SON Act 2015, to check the influx of sub-standard goods at the point of entry, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), has described a past government’s policy restricting its activities from the nation’s ports as being responsible for the dumping being witnessed in the nation.
While the action might have been justified at the time of pronouncement as part of measures to aid the ease of doing business at the ports, the standards body noted that the circumstances are different now, as ports operators have up-scaled their operations digitally thus limiting human interference.
According to the SON, the policy has overridden the law, as the law can only operate to the extent to which government allows it to be implemented. It added that a situation whereby SON has to check for sub-standard goods in the markets is unacceptable when such products could have been intercepted at the ports.
Besides, the agency stressed the need to check the quality parameters for agricultural commodities being produced in the country. It noted that heavy usage of banned chemicals in fertilizers may have contributed to the high rejection rates of such commodities, while some trace elements may be linked to the prevalence of cancer in the country.
Indeed, the agency stated that most developed economies of the world placed priority on a clear cut quality infrastructure model to get to where they are, noting that Nigeria must follow this trend to diversify its economy away from oil.
The Acting Director-General, SON, Dr. Paul Angya, explained that the major reason Nigerian products face rejection at the international market is due to issues of quality, pointing out that the country still lacked a defined, acceptable and implementable quality policy to make it competitive at the global market.
Angya emphasised the need to ensure that players in the agriculture value-chain make informed decisions in terms of soil preparation, seed selection, pesticides, harvest process, packaging and labelling, which according to him, account for reasons why commodities emanating from the country are often rejected.
Angya during a capacity building exercise in Lagos, said: “We have for long had issues of quality even in our local production, where products have not been able to compete internationally and this is why sometimes we have substandard products overshadowing our locally produced goods. We have had all these issues because Nigeria has not had a defined, acceptable, implementable quality policy.”
According to him, the national quality policy defines the national quality infrastructure, stressing that apart from laying down rules and regulations, the policy makes a survey of the global market situation and defines the modalities to trade at the international market.
In his words: “The previous administration could not approve the national quality policy because it required approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and since 2015, we have been on the job to get the government to adopt the national quality policy and the concomitant national quality infrastructure.
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