The Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk Salim, said the Product Authentication Mark (PAM) which will be launched soon will cut the importation of substandard goods.
Salim stated that PAM is specifically developed to checkmate imported goods into the country since imported goods account for over 80 per cent of substandard goods into the country
At a stakeholders’ sensitisation forum on PAM in Lagos, the SON boss added that the introduction of PAM is a declaration of war against substandard goods while also reaffirming the agency’s zero tolerance for substandard goods.
He however urged local manufacturers to key into the initiative, pointing out that it is the only way to increase consumers’ confidence while also increasing their profitability and market share.
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Salim said: “The original target group is imported finished products. Local manufacturers are free to join because we do not want to increase their cost of production. It helps to sell goods; it helps customers identify your products and this is good for business.”
He said the authentication mark looks like that on the naira but will be done with specialised machines, papers and security codes.
“Our inspectorate and compliance departments are always there and with the help of our customers, anybody breaking the rules would be prosecuted, their goods would be seized and the court will give us the permission to destroy those goods. The mark is just additional help to our customers and the public at large,” he added.
He, however, advised dealers in substandard goods to desist from the act of short-changing Nigerians with goods that have no economic value, saying SON is always on top of its game to checkmate the activities of unscrupulous elements in the country.
“My advice to importers of substandard goods is that they should watch out as we are coming for them and we are not going to allow you to destroy our economy, kill our people, and destroy property.”
Salim also said plans are underway to upgrade the SON Act, pointing out that there is going to be a public hearing in the National Assembly with hope that the bill is passed and signed by Mr President or the new administration.
Also speaking, the Director of Product Certification, SON, Engr Onucheyo Enebi, said the introduction of PAM became necessary because the agency has been inundated with complaints from consumers over the influx of substandard goods.
“The mark has over 10 elements in it that detects if a product is authentic or not, so the moment you scan with your QR code, all information about the product would be displayed.
It will give you an instant response. All you have to do is send an SMS to 281 or scan the QR code with your Android or IOS phone and you will get an instant response,” Enebi explained.
“I want to encourage Nigerians that whenever they scan a product and realise that the product is substandard, they should not keep quiet, but raise an alarm so that the relevant agencies can carry out an enforcement exercise.”
President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Meshioye Francis, represented by the Director, Corporate Services Division, Ambrose Oruche, said MAN supports SON on the scheme.
He said the move is crucial especially with increase in borderless trade and the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which Nigeria is a signatory to.
“We are delighted that local manufacturers have not been targeted with this scheme and this serves as a clear demonstration of SON’s confidence in local manufacturers, but we would key into any initiative that is aimed at protecting our members and Nigerians at large,” he said.
Substandard products everywhere!
Last Wednesday, the Managing Director/CEO of the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Engr. Aliyu Tukur Tahir, said the agency inspected some electrical manufacturing firms and removed 68,168 substandard materials in 2022.
There have been cases of substandard materials across various sectors especially for Fast Consumer Moving Goods (FCMG).
In 2018, it intercepted N22.7bn worth of contraband in Lagos with the figure rising above N23bn the next year. It said that top on the list of the various seizures were adulterated lubricants, electric cables, cylinders and tyres.
There were also cases of the circulation of fake SON CAP by importers who in an attempt not to pay revenue that is accruable to federal government present them when their goods arrive.
SON also intercepted over 300 bags of substandard sugar at the Singa market in Kano metropolis. The seized sugar consignment was believed to have been imported into the country through subterranean routes from Brazil without proper certification from the authorities.
The products were confiscated during routine raid exercises of the organisation in its bid to get rid of substandard, fake and adulterated products from the markets.
When tested, the Usina Bazan brand of sugar lacked some vital ingredients like vitamin A, and has a high level of icumsa concentration which is dangerous for consumption in the country.
SON coordinator for Kano and Jigawa states, Malam Yunusa B. Mohammed, said, “It is a federal government policy that certain products must be fortified with vitamin A, and one of these products is sugar. The influx of sugar into the country has been one of our major concerns as some of these products are not fortified with vitamin A. Besides that, the sugar equally has very high level of icumsa value, for that reason, we were asked to sustain surveillance of these products and wherever we see them, we should ensure that we evacuate them.
“For not fortifying them, they have contravened Nigerian laws. Secondly, the several tests we conducted on some of these products shows that they have high level of icumsa which is the colour indicator and we want to ensure that whatever Nigerians are consuming is within the confines of the specifications of Nigerian standards,” he emphasized.
In 2021, SON confiscated substandard tyres from a warehouse located in a remote area in Ogun State. The tyres were stuffed in 200 containers at the Obafemi Owode Local Government.
The SON head, Salim, in a comment on the seizure, said: “If they are to bring 300 tyres in one container, they will now have the opportunity to bring in 1500 tyres and in doing that, this compromises the quality of the tyres.”
The SON’s head further revealed that the tyres were made of wires and carbon and the test revealed that the textile strength of the tyres have been compromised, so they are no more fit for use and this is why we are going to destroy them.
“They may look nice in the eyes, but we rely on scientific investigation and analysis,” he added.