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Substandard Goods: SON to Introduce Reference Code for Products in 2016

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The Director General, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, explained that going forward next year, every SONCAP certificate issued on products must have reference code to ease traceability of substandard products in the country.
Odumodu stated this during a review meeting for 2015 with International Accredited Firms (IAFs).
In his words, ‎”Going forward, we are introducing additional measures to improve the effectiveness of the SONCAP and some of those measures will be increasing our market surveillance activities and within the first half of next year, to be precise by June, every product we find in the market place without a code, we will interrogate more painstakingly and by September, we will not allow any imported products without the code into the country.”
“What that means is that by September, any product we find within the market in Nigeria will be removed and destroyed. I have stated severally that the Nigerian economy deserves a lot more in terms of local manufacturing capacity and the only way we can achieve that is to ensure that Nigerian made products do not compete with products that are of questionable background and integrity,” he said.
According to him, in the last four years, SON has entered into agreement‎ with the Chinese government, which he said never happened in order to deliberate on how best to combat the influx of substandard goods into the country.
‎”There is a renewed commitment from the Chinese government but we need to see this in action. Even without that agreement, the initiative we have put in place in SON would actually help us to clean up the markets. The major provision of what we put in place is the ability to repatriate products and get your FOB value, and the Chinese must ensure that we get certified products in Nigeria.

The challenge we have is that our own people go over there to ask for something that looks like the real products. If people cannot go to the United Kingdom or the United States of America to get what looks like the original, why should they get them in China,” he added.
The SON boss added that the agency is also focusing on product liability, saying that anybody who sells a substandard product would be held accountable till the agency traces the original manufacturer of the substandard product.
‎”If I walk into a shop to get a product and it is substandard, it is the person who sold that product that has the liability ‎and until we are able to trace the product to the original owner, the seller of that products will be in our custody. What we are also saying is that we are putting some responsibility on the retailers and wholesalers. We have told them to ask for documentation before buying a product because they need to protect themselves,” he said.‎
He said: “Our system going forward ‎must be evidence-driven. If you sell a product to someone and it does not work, you will pay. People should demand their rights. If you buy a product and it does not work, you must return the product and get your full value and if you do not get it, you have a right to respond to.‎ If you have a product in the market, it must be registered to enable us capture it into our database so that when the product fail to conform to standards, we will know where to trace it to.”
He said Nigeria ‎has a new government that is focused on promoting agriculture ‎and manufacturing to create employment for Nigerians, pointing out that once the agency’s initiatives gets into action, the level of substandard products will be reduced to less than 15 per cent.
“We want you to join us as we journey to a safer and a more productive Nigeria.
There are lots of expectations from this new government in Nigeria and the indications are already there because the relationship between Nigeria and China is getting closer and I know that closeness will l‎ead to a lot more commitment on both sides,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, a representative of one of the IAFs, China Certification and Inspection Company Limited (CCIC), Mr. Zhao Long, who stated the Chinese government is 100 per cent commitment to the SONCAP project.
He said CCIC as a government corporation, has moved a further step with China customs in trying to stop influx of substandard goods into Nigeria by ensuring that every that every goods leaving China must have SONCAP certification.
“CCIC is 100 per cent committed to help stop the influx of substandard goods into Nigeria.‎ The Chinese and Nigerian government have a cordial and traditional relationship. Our government has a strong support to this project and instructed us to provide solace to play an important role in this project. We have put together lot of resources in this project. So we will provide a continuous support to this project,” he said.‎
‎Another representative of the IAFs, Intertek International Limited, Mr. Victor Faleye, said‎ Intertek is proud to have pioneered this programme on behalf of SON. saying that it is practically impossible for SON to be everywhere around the globe especially the Asian market that has been a source of concern in terms of importation of substandard products.
“We act as a representation to SON to ensure that the NIS mark for quality specification for products coming in are met before they are shipped. We have done this diligently in the last 10 years. I want to advocate for attitudinal change ‎of Nigerians. If a department of government is working very hard to ensure that what we consume and the goods we buy with our hard earned currency is of the highest quality, it is regrettable that Nigerians are frustrating the agency’s effort by engaging in such illicit trade‎,” he said.
“These goods, when they are destroyed does not only mean a loss to the importers but also to the economy at large. We are aware of the scarcity of foreign exchange in the country. We expect Nigeria to use the available resources to bring in materials that will be of benefit to the country so that the little that we earn do not get destroyed again as a result of substandard issues.,” he added.

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