SON SCORNS PUBLIC DISCUSS ON AfCFTA
Absence Heightens Fears on Preparedness
Perturbed by the inexplicable absence of the Standard Organization of Nigeria, SON, at a public forum to discuss and examine Nigeria’s readiness to tap into and benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, maritime stakeholders expressed grave concerns on SON’s expected role and wondered if the agency has the capacity to cope with and adequately protect Nigerians from the influx of substandard products into the country which the AfCFTA is expected to open Nigeria to.
The public discuss with the theme Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize The Gains of AfCFTA, was organized by Primetime Reporters, a specialized maritime Industry Media outfit which also deals with financial, economic and social political developments in the country.
The mandate of SON includes but not limited to preparation of standards relating to products, measurements, promotion of standards at the national, regional/international levels.
SON is also mandated to ensure the certification of industrial products, assistance in the production of quality goods as well as improvement of measurement accuracy and circulation of information relating to standards.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Francis Anatogu, Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, disclosed that the Federal Government has put measures in place to ensure the effective implementation of AfCFTA by Nigeria.
According to Anatogu, “The business opportunities offered by AfCFTA are huge and diverse. Nigerians have to grow their capacities to produce, form partnerships with producers of the raw materials that they need and ensure that the quality of their products meet international Standards and expectation of consumers”
“Nigerians and their goods/products are already doing very well outside the shores of Nigeria. People should take steps to define their strategies, improve their supply chains and develop quality products that could compete favourably with goods from other countries”, Anatogu said.
Is SON sensitizing manufacturers? Is SON equipping and preparing Nigerians on the demands and challenges of product acceptability/compliance under AfCFTA?
What is the quality of enlightenment by SON to guide, strengthen and educate Nigerian manufacturers on Standards and measurements preparatory to a full blown AfCFTA regime?
These and other issues were the clarifications expected from SON at the Primetime Reporters event which SON, unfortunately, decided not to attend.
While the absence of the agency has aroused suspicion and heightened worries among members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, lamented the cost of doing business at the ports and called for the automation of all port processes to increase revenue accruing to the federal government from the ports.
In his words “Our sea ports are not as attractive as they should be. Accessing the ports seems to be more dreadful each day notwithstanding efforts at decongesting the ports and making the access roads freer. Year after year, from seminar to seminar, workshop after workshop, we make our position known and suggest options to improve port operations. Regrettably, our views are neither not heard nor considered by policy makers but we do not shy away from talking because we believe that it is in sharing ideas that solutions to the myriad of challenges that we face as a nation and as a people could be found”.
“Government agencies seems to be in a perpetual battle of outdoing one another in revenue remittance to the federal government. Whether this contest is to enable the CEOs of the various agencies retain their jobs we do not know but we must not give up”
Engr. Greg Ogbeifun and Barrister Temisan Omatseye, a former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, called for greater awareness amongst the populace on the implementation of AfCFTA.
They bemoaned the absence of SON at the event as other maritime stakeholders who graced the occasion also expressed their disappointment on missing a unique opportunity to interact with officials of the agency and find out how prepared SON is for AfCFTA and its enforcement capability.