The influx of counterfeit products coming into the country through the seaports and land borders is becoming worrisome and alarming.
In spite of the huge resources deployed by various government agencies every year to sensitise stakeholders around the maritime domain about the dangers of importation of substandard products, perpetrators are getting more daring in the art of counterfeiting and are devising new ways of taking their products to the market.
This nefarious act has negative effects on the nation’s economy and deprives young ones of employment opportunities. Perpetrators who clone the original products and sell them out to the markets at a cheaper price are ripping off the companies that are focusing on production of genuine products. Such companies stand to gain nothing or little profits at the end.
Ironically, some importers deliberately travele to China, demands for production of substandard products and later smuggle them into the country in order to maximise profits. Presently, Nigeria’s economy is said to be losing about N23.5 billion to importation of substandard products in terms of loss of tax revenue to the government, income to local manufacturers and jobs creation.
However, over 70 per cent of imported products in the country are identified as fake. The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the regulatory agency in the country has spent huge amount of amount to track and destroy fake products intercepted by the government agencies.
In February 2019 alone, over N8 million (8million) worth of substandard products was destroyed by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) at Yankatsari Yangongon in Kano, in its efforts at stopping trading in substandard goods in Nigeria. This does not add value to the nation’s economy. A recent report by Frontier Economics, commissioned by BASCAP and the International Trademark Association, predicted the total annual cost of counterfeiting and digital piracy at between $923 billion—$1.13 trillion and warned this could double by 2022 if current trends continue.
In order not to turn Nigeria into dumping ground and to drive a new port order that ensures improved trade facilitation and efficiency, reduced cost and time wastage, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) recently entered into partnership to promote ethics and integrity in shipping trade.
Speaking at a sensitisation workshop recently, the Director-General of SON, Mr. Osita Aboloma, who was represented by the agency’s Director, Inspectorate and Compliance, Obiora Manafa maintained that adherence to set code of ethics for trade ensures service integrity, which fosters trust among stakeholders and the society in general.
He said that SON was being proactive in making the requisite standards available for most products in the Nigerian market by setting up regulatory frameworks for compliance.
Aboloma said it is worrisome as fraudulent importers even go as far as forging the SONCAP Certificate to bring in substandard products. The director added that the agency has been pro-active in ensuring that requisite standards are made available for most products in the Nigerian markets, as it will continue to engage with stakeholders on the need to conform to standards.
He added: “Some of the importers have been compliant but there are some who don’t want to repent. They still go out and ask manufacturers to produce things that do not meet the standard. These are the people we are targeting. SON has been battling tooth and nail to curtail these non-conformances. Part of our approach was the massive sensitisation of stakeholders last year, which we are going to continue this year to appeal to them. It is our belief that this seminar today will further educate our stakeholders on regulatory policies of government in the maritime sector.”
According to him, “In line with our culture, we do hope that we shall find comfort in doing what is right at all times in order to save our nation from decadence and dangers associated with the importation and distribution of substandard products in Nigeria.”
Also speaking at the events, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello, admonished port users as well as agencies to maintain high ethical standards in their operations as part of efforts to enhance the competitiveness of Nigerian ports and minimise corruption and other illicit vices.
The NSC boss said, “with high ethical practices in place in the port system, vices such as impunity, presumptuous behaviours and ignorance with respect to adherence to procedures, rules and regulations will be minimized”
Bello stated that the seminar was aimed at ensuring that stakeholders adhere to international best practices in the conduct of their businesses, noting that this was part of NSC’s goal to promote an efficient port system that will encourage healthy competition, enthrone transparency, facilitate trade, reduce cost and enhance the ease of doing business.
“With the added responsibility as the nation’s port economic regulator, the Council has evolved new strategies whereby standardized services, tariffs, rates and charges are being put in place with attendant optimal benefits to providers and consumers of port services”, he added.