Stories by Maduka Nweke
Substandard products have remained a clog in Nigeria’s bid for industrialisation and the housing sector appears to be the worst hit. This is because substandard building materials are still flooding the market. The damage this has done to Nigerian industrialisation is better imagined than experienced considering the quantum of destruction witnessed by those using them.
Whether the menace would continue or abate is a matter of conjecture as Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) seems handicapped by the various lapses that hinder its drive to stamp the scourge out of the system.
The SON has the mandate to support and regulate made-in-Nigeria goods as a way of developing the economy and at the same time check imported goods.
Nigerian producers have three major disadvantages because they are operating in a disadvantaged infrastructural environment and naturally the costs of their products are higher than those of their competitors overseas. But even more important is the fact that these products are competing with substandard products and menace of dumping. Every nation must protect its industries such that others would not come and bring products and sell below the normal price such a product should go for considering all the cost elements.
SON has been complaining that absence of its personnel at the nation’s borders has made it difficult to prevent the influx of substandard foreign products into the country. Despite the challenges posed by porous borders, it said it is devising a mechanism to effectively monitor the borders.
•Porous boarders: SON lamented that out of the 155 entry borders in the country, only five are monitored by operatives of the organisation. There is, therefore, need for Nigerians to assist the agency in its efforts to eradicate sub-standard products in the country and one of the ways to do this is to patronise products that have the Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS) certification mark in the case of locally made products and SON mark for foreign products. The danger posed by the consumption of substandard goods to the health of the nation cannot be overemphasised. The implication is that the boarders are not properly guarded by both the Customs and Immigration officials.
•Illegal vessel discharge: The fact that the boarders are not properly monitored, means that vessels carrying all sorts of goods are not checked but are allowed to dump things that ordinarily would be regulated out into the country.
•Compromise on the part of law enforcement agents: It is clear that most of the illegal dumps pass through regulated ports. Many of the substandard goods that pass through the Nigerian boarders were certified by law enforcement agents. When these goods come into the country, what the owners do is just tip the law enforcement agents at the boarders and they are allowed in to the detriment of the country.
•Foreign collaborators: If foreign suppliers check what goes out of their ports, they would be able to check the continued production of substandard goods. Since they have failed to do that, the owners would have passed the first hurdles and the moment the Nigerian boarders are also permeated, the goods would eventually find their way into the market.
•Poor policy implementation: Most times, policy summersault results in the manufacture of goods that do not meet the local standard. This forces some of the goods earlier banned but are lying in the ports to be allowed into the country.
•Glut of foreign goods: Most Nigerians craving for foreign goods do anything to discourage the made-in-Nigeria goods. Some government officials, while on official trips overseas, use the opportunity to bring in all those things that are banned in the country. And because the security agents do eye service, and do not check their luggage.
•Poor economy: Due to poverty, some security agents collect tips from importers to let go these substandard products only for their colleagues to chase the goods down to the market or the consumers homes.
•Business environment: The Nigerian environment is not so regulated because very few Nigerians can be patriotic enough to help the security agents. This is why there is influx of small arms in the country. If the business environment does not suit it, it can’t thrive.
•Glitch: Technology has remained the greatest of problems in various boarders in the country. Most officials that check and test these foreign goods do not have the matching equipment to measure them and so they are bamboozled into accepting substandard products as quality standards.
•High level of ignorance on the dangers of substandard goods: Most of those who deal on and patronise these substandard goods cannot trace their origin and are unaware of the danger they pose to their health. In the case of the second hand goods termed okirika, they don’t know where they were picked from but only that the designs suit them.
•Poor sensitisation: The fact that government is not doing enough to educate the public on all these, the public would continue to fall victim. Many times some sicknesses that are alien to our environment are brought in through such means while government looks elsewhere.
Some time ago, SON lamented that some of the companies it regulates are yet to key into its Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) for local manufacturers even as there is no evidence of SON’s Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) certification for their raw materials importation.
According to the Acting Director General, SON, Dr. Paul Angya, “when our Inspectorate and Compliance team visited some steel pipes companies recently, it was rather amazing that some of them were not even aware of the applicable industrial standards. Some of the companies were even manufacturing according to the specifications given to them by particular clients.
“The situation cannot be tolerated in an organised economy. We have discovered the level of pipes in circulation without any identification marks for traceability of the pipes to particular manufacturers in line with the requirement of NIS 324:1997 and NIS 198:1984, non-compliant gauges, early corrosion as well as short length.
We are determined to reduce the level of substandard products in circulation to the barest minimum.”
you are therefore offered this opportunity to embark on immediate house cleaning and serve your customers well. The time to begin is now and SON will do the best possible to protect those unsuspecting consumers. As a facilitating agency, we are giving you three months from today to address these issues effectively or face sanctions.
“SON will immediately shut down the operations of anyone caught as an economic saboteur. We therefore called this meeting to enable all hollow pipes manufacturing companies to know the right things to do and carry them out. As it is our style, immediate enforcement begins after this forum while we give a guided grace period of 90 days for those who want to tidy up their non-conforming operations before we carry out wholesome raiding, seizure and evacuation of all sub- standard pipes in warehouses and firms as well as prosecution of offenders.”
SON pegs 5-yr jail term, N5m for substandard goods dealers
The weather may soon become hotter for dealers in substandard goods if the warning by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to jail defaulters for five years without any option of fine is anything to go by.
The SON recently said that it is poised to deal with any company bent on feeding the Nigerian public with substandard goods. It made the revelation during the SON/Steel Pipes Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum held at the African Sun Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, recently where about seven steel pipes manufacturers were in attendance.
Speaking at the forum, the Acting Director General of SON, Dr. Paul Angya, said after the SON team inspected the manufacturing processes of some hollow steel pipes manufacturing companies to ascertain their level of compliance to the current Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS), it was found that they were not complying with the rules.
Angya stated that henceforth, any company still dealing in substandard goods would be regarded as an economic saboteur to the country and would not be treated kindly. He said there is five-year jail term for manufacturers of substandard goods without option of fine, adding that if the presiding judge is lenient, he could fine the company N5 million in addition to being shut down.
“The present SON under my watch will not condone shortchanging of consumers’ value for money or flooding the markets with substandard products,” he said.
“SON will immediately shut down the operations of anyone caught as an economic saboteur. We therefore called this meeting to enable all hollow pipes manufacturing companies to know the right things to do and carry them out. As it is our style, immediate enforcement begins after this forum while we give a guided grace period of 90 days for those who want to tidy up their non-conforming operations before we carry out wholesome raid, seizure and evacuation of all substandard pipes in warehouses and firms as well as prosecution of offenders,” he said.
Angya noted that there was need to confirm the manufacturing processes in line with applicable standard, quality control and quality assurance and factors responsible for non-compliant products in circulation as well as take appropriate action.
Device to download 5-6 apps a day berths in Lagos with LG G5
A new flagship mobile device, the LG G5, created to unleash people’s desire to play around with its environment has berthed in Lagos. It is a device that captures the excitement of what a smartphone is meant to be.
According to the Managing Director, LG, Mr. S. H. Kim, when smartphones were first introduced, the public were so fascinated that they could download five to six apps a day. He stated that these days, the public do not see much excitement anymore even when a new smartphone is released.
He therefore asked, “Does that mean people’s appetite for fun has disappeared? Of course not. Today’s consumers are just looking elsewhere, such as action cameras or drones. Does that mean the era of smartphones is over? At LG, we think smartphones’ best days are still ahead. The LG G5 is not the only device we’d like to introduce to the public this time.”
Kim stated that the device, LG G5, comes with “Friends” – extensive companion devices that enhance the user experience in dynamic ways. He explained that these “Friends” have been optimised to play with the LG G5.
He further explained: “At LG, we believe that ‘Life’s good when you play more’ and we actually have enjoyed every step of creating the G5 and Friends, dreaming to reignite your instinct to play. The future of smartphones is still full of possibilities and the LG G5 and Friends are just the beginning.”
He said, as a transformative, modular design, the new LG G5 is made to help the user get the most out of life. “It is a forward-thinking modular design that lets you use companion devices for enhanced camera capabilities. The slide-out battery can be swapped in a flash to help the user stay connected.
“Designed with compromise, the LG G5’s sleek, light weight and colourful. The 3D arc glass of the phone gives the display a gentle curve on the top of the device for a seamless look. With a balance of form and function, the LG G5’s modular design lets you customise your phone features based on your needs. Simply slide the battery out and replace it with LG Friend, when it comes to features,” he concluded.
If this is so, then why settle when you can have it all,” he concluded.
FG urged to develop grazing reserves in North
From Theresa Egba, Abuja
Fulani herdsmen, under the umbrella of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, have called on the Federal Government to focus more in developing grazing reserves in the North following the crisis between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
The National Secretary of the group, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, made the call in an interview at a retreat on Livestock and Dairy Development in Abuja, yesterday, with the theme, “Setting an Agenda for Commercialising Livestock and Dairy in Nigeria.”
According to him, grazing reserve, which was proposed by the Federal Government should be immediately looked into while ranching should be done in due process.
“Ranching should be planned for but they should focus more on the grazing reserve. We have 415 grazing areas in Nigeria, 141 areas are gazetted and are mostly located in the North. Three to four are located in Oyo and Ogun states. The Federal Government is the owner of these lands while the state governments are only custodians.
“Cattle breeders are willing to accept this plan set aside for them because we are already sensitising them. They too are tired, they have lost their properties and families in the course of the crisis,” he said.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, while delivering his keynote address, assured that steps are being taken for cattle improvement programme, which will be aggressively pursued using artificial insemination.
According to him, steps are being taken to improve the quality and quantity of milk as well as beef quality in Nigeria, including “establishment of clusters of diary farmers, which would be equipped with milk collection facilities, establishment of ranches to be planted with high quality improved tropical grass varieties and quality waters. Some of the grass seed would be imported to Nigeria.
“Capacity building for dairy farmers, among others development of livestock and dairy industry occupies a prime position in the agricultural roadmap of the current administration. The intention is to develop a sustainable livestock and dairy industry,” he said.
Earlier, Food Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) representative, Dr. Louise L. Setshwaelo, proffered that to address the long standing and long term challenges, the livestock sector needs to prioritise a few critical areas that would ultimately make tangible impact to its productivity, liavelihoods and competitiveness.