The Daily Trust newspaper and several online platforms published yesterday a report purportedly asking Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, and National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, and some other regulatory agencies to vacate the nation’s seaports within 24 hours.
SON to the best of my knowledge as an ardent follower of activities in the maritime sector has not been operating from inside the Seaports since November 2011 .
Recall that a pronouncement by the then Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala pruned down the numbers of agencies operating at the ports to less than 10 from 16 or thereabouts.
Since then, SON has been carrying out its functions from an office on Burma Road, Apapa.
However, recent newspaper reports quoted the NPA management to have stated that it was harmonizing procedures for joint cargo inspection by all relevant regulatory agencies.
It is common knowledge that participation of regulatory agencies like NAFDAC and SON have been at the mercy of the officials of the Nigeria Customs Service since the 2011 Ministerial pronouncement.
“Are SON and NAFDAC for example operating from inside the seaports as we speak? The answer is no; so why issue an order for them to vacate the premises they do not occupy?”
Some months back, I read in the newspapers that the Act of an agency like SON actually gives it unfettered access to the seaports, airports and land borders in the discharge of its duty.
The new SON Act actually permits the organization “to apply reasonable force, if need be to gain entry”
Why then do we cut our nose to spite our face? Who stands to benefit from the recent pronouncements? The reports in Daily Trust and other online platforms attributed the decision by NPA to promoting ease of doing business! The ease of doing business of bombarding Nigeria unchecked with dangerous, life threatening, substandard products? The ease of doing business of fake, cloned, cheap articles competing unfairly with Nigerian made products with all the infrastructural challenges?
Even with the full presence of all these agencies at officially designated entry points, the several unmanned, porous land borders pose more than enough challenges to the regulatory and security agencies in the battle to combat the influx of substandard, life threatening products.
- Contributed by our Reader