By Francis Ogwo
In the wake of the commencement of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Nigerian manufacturers have sought for protection of their products from adulteration and faking of their brands in Nigeria and overseas as well as unfair competition with substandard imports.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Kano branch, also highlighted the need for the proper positioning of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) at the nation’s entry points, according to a statement by SON.
This assertion was made by the National Vice President of MAN, North West Zone, Alhaji Ali Madugu, during a reception with the Director-General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, when the later visited Kano.
Madugu was of the view that SON’s quality verification of all imported products including those from other West African countries was needful even with the rule of origin in the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.
He stressed that the commencement of the AfCFTA further underscores the need for SON’s presence at the entry points to prevent Nigeria from being turned into a dumping ground of substandard, fake and counterfeited products from other African countries.
Speaking further, Madugu urged SON to look at the best way to implement product authentication without putting genuine manufacturers at a disadvantage in terms of cost and the procedure for compliance.
Madugu commended Salim’s approach to addressing the concerns of about 140-member North West branch of MAN and enumerated issues for his further consideration.
According to him, the issues include the decentralisation of SON’s testing facilities through building of additional laboratories across the country, including Kano; and easier processing of import documents without necessarily visiting SON Headquarters in Abuja.
He also mentioned the issue of greater protection of local manufacturers’ MANCAP certified products from adulteration and faking of their brands in Nigeria and overseas as well as unfair competition with substandard imports.
According to the statement, other members of the branch’s executive committee called for an upgrade and enlightenment of members on the SON offshore conformity assessment programme portal, as well as the inspection procedure, sampling and testing relating to the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme for locally manufactured products.
On his part, Salim said SON was set up to provide technical assistance and support to genuine local manufacturers as well as protect them from unfair competition from substandard products.
He acknowledged the manufacturers’ sacrifices through investment in infrastructure, creation of job opportunities and regular payment of taxes as part of growing the nation’s wealth, and assured them of his commitment and support.
“We need to partner with MAN to protect genuine manufacturers and legitimate importers by sharing intelligence to apprehend and prosecute standards infractions. With adequate consequences for actions, most people will follow the rules,” Salim said.
He decried the current situation where SON was unable to carry out quality verification of all its regulated imported products at the points of entry nor accost suspected substandard products outside the ports.
Salim urged MAN and other stakeholders to look forward to seamless and robust deployment of information communication technology to enhance the agency’s delivery of efficient services and an appreciable reduction in turnaround time for standards development, product certification and registration, among others.
“While I call for genuine partnership with MAN and other stakeholders, SON will not back down from implementing the law by diligent prosecution of standards infractions,” he said.
Recall that Nigeria has been plagued with piracy and adulteration of products which has led to loss of revenues in billions.
This trend according to MAN, even though with several outcries following, has not yielded the desired results .
According to them, their competitive value and status in the AfCFTA deal will be greatly affected if strict policies and measures in ensuring standards and quality are not enforced effectively.