A supremacy battle seems to be brewing between the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the Nigerian Senate over which agencies can be allowed to operate in the ports.
While for instance, the Vice President had earlier excluded Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), from the list of Federal Government agencies to operate at the ports, the Senate yesterday, gave a counter order, directing SON go back to the ports.
Osinbajo had earlier given a list of approved agencies to operate in the ports to include Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Nigeria Police Force (NPF); National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Department of State Security (DSS); Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and Port Health. This leaves agencies excluded from operating in the ports to include Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Directorate of Naval Intelligence (DNI), Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, (NAQS), National Environmental Regulatory and Standards Agency (NESREA) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
But just yesterday, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Industry, Sam Egwu, during an oversight function of SON’s offices and laboratories in Lagos, said the absence of the agency was greatly being felt at the ports and called on stakeholders in the sector to begin facilitating its return.
Egwu said it was necessary for the agency to have first-hand information on goods berthing on the shores of the country before being allowed into the markets. He noted that as a large scale importing country, Nigeria must have its standard organisation at the nation’s point of entry, to ascertain the quality of goods coming in.
“We cannot overemphasis the issue of standardisation, because it is the core of every manufacturing output. We are not happy that SON has not been allowed to operate at its maximum capacity especially with its absence being felt at the port.
“Nigeria is import-dependent, with porous borders and for SON not being at the port to inspect these goods first hand is not good enough. They should be allowed to be at the port to see these products before they enter into the market.
“We have observed some products come into the country from countries that do not have standards, all cloned with SON logo. This is certainly not good for the Nigerian economy.
“The discovery by the SON deterred such goods from getting into the hands of unsuspecting consumers,” he said.
He commended operations of the agency in its fight to combat fake and substandard goods, and restated the committee’s support.
“From what I have seen so far, I want to say that they have impressed us as a committee with their efforts to ensure that products are being standardised.
“They have also judiciously put to use the appropriation funds given to them to deliver on their mandate,” he said.
In his welcome remarks, Director General of SON, Osita Aboloma, told the committee that the steady progress had been made over the years under the current leadership of the senate committee on industry.
“We have never had it so good under any committee in the history of SON.
“Not only did you bequeath a befitting SON Act, we have also been able to discharge most of our core mandate.
“I am also proud to tell the world that the issue of possession and co-ownership of the building where our operational office in Lekki is situated has been resolved in favour of SON due to your able leadership,” he said.
Members of the committee were taken to SON’s one-stop office in Apapa and its multi-billion laboratory complex in Ogba with about 38 laboratories.