SON Act 2015 Yielding Massive product seizures

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THE SON Act 2015 is a revolutionary document which we are deploying to carry out massive measures towards delivering on our mandate to sanitise the Nigerian landscape, markets, everywhere, of unwholesome products. Let me inform you that the big hauls of seizures which the agency made recently is testimonial that we mean business by harnessing to the fullest the enormous powers which the Act has accorded us, ”

These were the words of the Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Osita Aboloma during a stakeholders’ sensitisation workshop on SON Act 2015 in Jimeta, Yola capital of Adamawa State.

According to him, within the last few months, the standards body has confiscated fake and sub-standard products worth billions of Naira across the country, maintaining that it had since embarked on arraignment and trial at the various courts of some of the suspects linked with the impounded goods.

“We are not resting on our oars. We, therefore, appeal to all to be aware of the Act, comply with its provisions particularly areas dealing with how operators should do the right thing for their businesses to grow,” he advised.

He, however, stated that the work of standardisation is to grow Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), promote the agro-allied sector, as well as ensure industrial and economic development, saying that this became imperative why to engage stakeholders in different sectors of the economy.

In his words, “We need to use the instrumentality of SON Act NO.14 2015 to attain economic development. We are spreading our tentacles to the States and geopolitical zones. Product counterfeiters have no place to hibernate. With the re-invigorated monitoring and enforcement strategies we are putting in place, our dragnet will get economic saboteurs anywhere, anytime,” he said.

He pointed out that the theme of the workshop, ‘SON Act 2015: Catalyst for economic development’ was indeed germane and quite in tune with the current efforts by the federal government to turn around the nation’s economy.

“We decided to conduct nationwide stakeholders’ sensitization workshops on the Act not only in order to enlighten people on the provisions of the Act but equally to strengthen stakeholders’ engagement and collaborations. The positive outcomes and impact of the sensitization exercises in places where they have been conducted so far have been so encouraging. This forum would therefore not be different in eliciting attention and challenging participants on the issues to be raised by our competent facilitators and resources persons,” he stressed.

A Principal Partner, Agbonhese, Agbonhese & Co, Dr James Agbonhese, in his presentation tagged “SON ACT 2015: Vehicle For Quality and Standard Products,” explained that the new Act was a remarkable improvement on the old Act which gave SON extremely limited powers to pursue its mandate.

According to him, major provisions were added to the Act to ensure the efficacy of SON and more stringent penalties for offences among others. He added that the first thing the Act did was to properly position and equip SON to enable it to function optimally by increasing its functions.

Buttressing his claims, he stated: “The Act expands the scope of the duties of SON by vesting the Council with additional powers. For instance, section 5 of the Act has saddled the organization with the responsibility of evaluation of quality assurance activities, including certification of systems, products and laboratories throughout Nigeria”. He continued: “The organization has now been empowered to impose fees, fines or penalties on a person who contravenes any import or export surveillance, certification or conformity assessment scheme”. The Lawyer also noted: “SON is also, among others, given the additional responsibility to undertake registration of all manufactured products distributed, marketed and consumed throughout Nigeria”. He stated further: “The organization has also been given an oversight function. The Act provides that for the purpose of uniformity of standards in Nigeria, all regulatory agencies or organisations dealing with matters pertaining to or related to standards shall do so in collaboration with SON”.

On his part, the Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), North East Zone-Alhaji Ahmed Jarma, pointed out that the socio-economic, health and safety implications of the protracted menace of substandard products in the country necessitated the need for a specific date to ensure that Nigeria is totally free from the dangerous reality.

Hence, he stressed, all stakeholders-indeed all Nigerians-must join hands with SON in the national quest that substandard products-whether imported or locally manufactured- are no more in the country’s shores and that Nigeria is on the path to sustainable economic growth.

Jarma insisted that the consequences of the prevalence of substandard products in the country are so devastating that nothing short of his recommendation would do.

In his words: “Substandard products are everybody’s enemy, yet people engage in peddling them for selfish economic gains at the expense of national and individual economic interest. From substandard iron rods in the building industry to substandard automobile and industrial parts, drugs, food items, academic books and equipment, personal clothing and wears, household electrical items, appliances, computers, handsets etc., the list is endless. Nigeria and Nigerians are losing billions of naira- and on many occasions the irreparable loss of lives- to the purchase and use of substandard items unknowingly, and unfortunately sometimes knowingly, but with ignorance or overlooking of likely consequences”.

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