Worried by the proliferation of substandard products in Nigerian markets, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) recently took the campaign to rid the country of these shoddy products to the doorsteps of Nigerian youths. At a forum organised to mark this year’s World Standards Day in Lagos, the Director General of the regulatory agency, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, solicited the support of some youths selected from nine secondary schools in Lagos and Ogun states in the crusade against patronizing unwholesome products in the country.
Odumodu explained that if the goal of curbing the influx of substandard products is achieved, it would lead to increase in employment generation, higher income for individuals, companies as well as improved economic outlook for the nation. According to the agency, genuine products are denoted by the SON mark of quality – the Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS). With this explanation, it then means that any product that does not have the NIS quality imprint is deemed to be unwholesome and should not be patronised.
We commend the management of SON for this bold initiative to let the nation’s youths understand the implication of patronising fake products. Given that SON and the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are the two visible regulatory agencies for sundry products, they must find more workable approaches to curb the influx of unwholesome products into the country. While we do not object to enlisting the youths in the war against substandard products, we think that the best way to prosecute it is for SON and NAFDAC to be alive to their statutory responsibilities. Unarguably, these agencies appear not to be doing much in this regard. If they have been covering their beats very well, Nigeria would not have become a dumping ground for all manner of fake products from other foreign countries, especially Asia.
It is public knowledge that there is a preponderance of fake electrical appliances, wires, food and drugs in the country. The Director-General of NAFDAC recently hinted of many fake anti-malaria drugs in the Nigerian market. The same can equally be said of antibiotics and other drugs that are in high demand. The irony of the situation is that most fake products in Nigeria bear the NIS imprint. The issue of fake products has even transcended food, drinks and cosmetics to other products like fabrics and tiles. Yet, the regulatory agencies seem to have abdicated their roles in this regard. We believe that SON and NAFDAC are not doing enough to stem the unbridled influx of fake products into the country. It is unfortunate that the situation has for long been allowed to degenerate. Let these agencies wake up to their responsibilities before it becomes difficult to differentiate the genuine products from the fake ones that litter every market in Nigeria.
It is not in doubt that corruption is at the heart of the increasing dumping of substandard products on our shores. Let the men of Nigerian Customs Service also rise to the challenge by preventing these nefarious cargoes from entering our various ports. If SON and NAFDAC can stop the shipment of these fake products from ports of origin, as other countries do, these products will not enter the country. Therefore, those at the helm of these agencies should put more verve in their overall effort to rid the country of this menace.
We should encourage the manufacture of these goods locally. Let us leverage on products that we can easily produce locally like electric wires, fruit juice, tomato paste and others. Government should blacklist firms and countries implicated in shipping unwholesome products to Nigeria. Let importers of such goods face stiffer sanctions. Nigerians should curb their appetite for foreign goods and patronise locally manufactured ones.
There is pride in patronising products produced in one’s country. Let government support local manufacturers so that they can produce high quality products. If this is done, it will reduce our dependence on foreign goods and also curb the importation of fake products.