Aboloma: Redefining The War Against Substandard Products


Today, it is no longer debatable that many unscrupulous Nigerians and some foreigners in their desperate quest to amass primitive wealth at all cost have perfected the art of either  making or selling substandard products, unmindful of the devastating consequences of their illicit action on innocent citizens. As a matter of fact, the cost implications of the mindless acts, especially as they relate to the health and general wellbeing of the citizenry and the economy of the nation are mind-boggling and seem unquantifiable in monetary or material terms.
For decades, the nefarious activities have been a source of concern and huge challenge to successive governments in the country and the ordinary citizens alike. The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is the Federal Government’s agency solely vested with the enormous responsibility of standardizing and regulating the quality of all products in Nigeria. The mandate of the organisation is clearly spelt out in the SON Act, No. 14, of 2015 which repealed and overrides all other previous ones.
The organisation is fully empowered by its enabling Act to enforce, seize, confiscate and destroy substandard products. It equally enjoys powers to seal off premises where defective products are manufactured or stored. Severe penalties for offending manufacturers, importers and sellers of substandard products are provided for in the SON Act as amended in 2015.
SON has been profoundly fired up under its current leadership headed by Mr. Osita Anthony Aboloma to pick up the gauntlet against architects of substandard products. Aboloma has vowed to make business miserable for product counterfeiters. Also, the organisation has set for itself the goal to provide Nigerian industries with up-to-date information on standardization and its benefits.
This is with a view to encouraging participation of the Organized Private Sector (OPS) in the standardization and review to ensure improved competitiveness of Nigerian goods at home and abroad by engendering quality assurance practices. Apart from what has been mentioned previously, SON in the present dispensation, is also better poised to provide information, advice and assistance to industries to meet the required competitiveness in global trade, and to motivate the workforce through steady investment in human resource development for acquisition of skills in line with technological advancement.
Most revolutions, the world over, apart from their often bloody colouration presuppose radical changes for the better. However, there are also bloodless revolutions, such as the Industrial Revolution, which swept through Western Europe from 1750 to the early 20th century. Those revolutions were all geared towards improving the living standards of inhabitants of the countries where they took place.
Back in Africa and specifically Nigeria, what is happening at SON under its new helmsman, Aboloma can be likened to a silent revolution that is bound to reverberate positively across the country for a long time. The coming to the stage by Aboloma coincided with a time when all hopes seemed forlorn and when many were crying out stridently for deliverance from unbridled product counterfeiting and quackery in the land. In a nutshell, the new SON Chief Executive, Aboloma ushers new hope!
Aboloma’s ascension to the cockpit of power at the SON has understandably attracted high expectations from the workforce of the organisation and Nigerians in general. He has so far kept fidelity with his firm pledge to utilize his professional experience as a seasoned legal practitioner to pursue and prosecute dealers in substandard products wherever they may be found.
Expectedly, Aboloma, who is yet to clock a year in office, has significantly succeeded in turning things around in many fronts since taking over from Dr. Paul Angya as the substantive Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the Organisation. It can therefore be stated that he is on track in fulfilling his promise of action.
The truth is that SON is today redefining the war on fake and substandard products. In the light of the foregoing, the verve of the organisation that seemed threatened some years ago due to a combination of factors is being gradually restored under Aboloma’s stewardship. Using his assertive will coupled with his legendary strong aversion for things that are against the development of the nation as handmaidens, the DG has been disarming many violators of set standards thereby warming his way into the hearts of  many Nigerians.
First and foremost, Aboloma’s fidelity to due process and accountability has ensured an admirable husbandry of the limited resources of the organisation, thereby impacting positively on the implementation of the core mandate of the agency. SON, which was established by Act No. 56 of 1971, with three amendments in 1976, 1984 and 1990 and the unprecedented passing of its amended Act by the immediate seventh National Assembly in 2015, has now acquired new powers not only to arrest, prosecute and jail purveyors of fake and sub-standard products across the country, but prevent importers of such products into the country. With this upgraded status, the war against fake and sub-standard products has been given additional impetus.
Aboloma aptly defines dealers in substandard and adulterated products as terrorists in view of the danger their criminal activities pose to the lives and wellbeing of Nigerians. He has clearly enumerated some of the electronic platforms being deployed by SON to tackle the menace of substandard products circulation as including the mandatory conformity assessment programme (MANCAP) for locally manufactured products; SONCAP, for certification of imported products from source; Product Registration for documentation and traceability of all products in the market and Library services for access to relevant standards for local production import and export with ease among others.
It is to Aboloma’s eternal credit and some of his predecessors too that SON has worked relentlessly to make a positive mark in the war against fake and substandard products. Worthy of note is the evident reduction in the rate of production of substandard goods in Nigeria. Considering the propensity of some Nigerians to cut corners in their insatiable quest to acquire wealth by all means, especially in the area of faking products, what SON has achieved so far is worthy of commendation. This is not to say that the war against substandard and counterfeit products has been exhaustively fought and won. No, the battle is a continuous one.
Nonetheless, some of the agency’s triumphs, especially under Aboloma’s superintendence include: seizure of N5billion worth of substandard tyres and the arrest of two Chinese nationals in connection with the importation; sealing off of several shops in Jos for selling substandard foreign electric cables worth millions of naira; prosecution of 40 suspected producers of substandard goods in Ondo State; seizure of substandard telephones worth millions of naira in ICT market, Ikeja.
Others are: confiscation of N200million worth of substandard handsets; impoundment of three containers of substandard gas cylinders in Lagos and sealing off of four warehouses with substandard products worth N400million and the seizure of over N200million fabrics in three different markets in Lagos.
Equally worthy of note here is the seizure of about N2billion worth of expired household products in a three-storey building in Lagos. The goods were being clandestinely sold to supermarkets and open markets as wholesome products within the city and other parts of the country. This is to mention just a few.
Determined to provide guidance on how businesses and organisations can operate in a socially responsible way, SON has launched the ISO 26000. ISO 26000 is Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility.
With such sure-footedness and solid attainments in less than a year, SON under the leadership of Aboloma, appears primed to go places as far as the execution of its mandate is concerned.
– Ochela, a media consultant based in Abuja
Source: News


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