Nigeria has groaned under the burden of influx of fake and substandard products into the country resulting to human and material losses. The drugs category is one of the worst hit leading to countless loss of precious lives even as many children have been deformed from intake of such drugs. Also thousands of houses have been razed down and many lives and properties destroyed due to the use of substandard cables and electric appliances imported into the country. In the food category, many harmful foods have been innocently consumed by the citizens that end up causing havoc to their organic system.
Despite efforts of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), at combating the menace, the markets are still flooded with substandard products.
Oluwatoyin Amao seeks the opinion of citizens on this vexed hazard.
Influx of substandard goods into Nigeria can be stopped with good policies by the Federal government of Nigeria. This is because these products pose problems to the health of Nigerians and contributes to increase in death rate of people in the country. Placing embargo on these products is a good starting point. Any Nigerian being caught for smuggling substandard products should be seriously dealt with. Increasing tariff on imported products is another way of reducing importation of these products. This will discourage importation of goods generally and also promote infant industries in Nigeria. These two policies will boost Nigeria external reserve as she will export than import, increase the level of gross domestic products (GDP) and also boost the life expectancy of people in the country.
Some substandard products are also produced here in Nigeria, there is a need for government to send Nigerian youths abroad to learn how to make and brand products.
I think that a multidimensional approach would be necessary to tackle the problem of substandard goods into the country. The government should set up a task force specially to monitor the activities of the Nigeria Customs Service and the borders as well. I also believe that if the government solves the problem of power supply, more manufacturing companies would thrive because it would provide ample opportunity for indigenous brands to showcase quality goods. I know that Nigerians can produce just about anything if the enabling environment is provided.
There should be stiff penalties for importers and companies who bring in substandard products into the country. All in all, I think the greatest solution would be the power supply. With improved power supply, manufacturing companies would not need to waste funds on diesel or other means of power generation. Instead, they will channel their funds into improving production of goods because if we cannot produce, we will end up importing cheap things from abroad and Nigeria has become a dumping ground of sorts where simple things that can be produced are imported.
My opinion is that there should be proper eradication of corrupt officials especially at the top; adequate provision should be made for patriotic officials at all borders – land and sea to screen products coming into the country and to make sure they are up to standard.
Influx of substandard products into the country is nothing new. It has been in existence for so long, if there is no market for them in our country, those who are in the business of importing would have stopped this business long time ago. The truth is that there is room for them and that is the living standard of a number of Nigerians who live below the poverty line. Back to the question, it can be stopped if government raise the standard of living of the average man on the street; the police entry points should be held accountable when these products get into the market unhindered and Nigerians who go overseas to purchase these goods should be caught and made to face the law.
I think our major problem in Nigeria is corruption and it’s affecting every sector. Narrowing it down to the question, we have an agency in charge of standardization of goods before they are allowed to be rolled out to the market, which is SON (Standard Organization of Nigeria). I am not sure they are functioning as expected and even if they are, how sincere are their leaders when it comes to bribery and come to think of it, most of these goods are smuggled into the country. For us to have a proper check on the standard of goods coming into the county, SON and Customs must be more empowered to discharge their duties accordingly. All corruption must be reduced if not wiped out totally.
For me, there is a lot to do in order to address the invasion and flooding of our country with substandard products. The regulatory organisations such as NAFDAC, SON should be restructured and empowered, so that they can carry out their duties accordingly. Setting ablaze seized products should not be only punishment, the penalty for this crime should be severe to serve as a deterrent for offenders.
Furthermore, awareness should be created locally on how to identify substandard products and its impact. We would also simultaneously educate the masses and engage the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria to drive improving locally made products and build trust with Nigerian consumers to reduce the need for importation.
Influx of substandard products can be reduced through developing local industries; import duty should be increased, heavy tax for imported goods and availability of soft loan to small scale industries. Government should uphold the screening of imported goods into the country; penalties should be given to anybody who brings in substandard goods into the country.
Victoria Island, Lagos
The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have an important role to play in monitoring and controlling the quality of goods brought in through our ports, this can only be achieved if they are allowed to carry out their constitutional assignment of being at the ports to serve as a check and balance on the standard of products been imported from overseas. We can however not isolate the fact that the high poverty rate and low standard of living in the country is the major cause of the influx of these substandard goods.
The high demand for cheap and substandard goods has made the business lucrative as Nigerians cannot afford the high quality but yet very expensive top quality products, as according to research it is the same Nigerian business men that still go to China to order the production of these goods. On the other hand, SON needs to be re-instated to the ports to ensure this is curbed and government should throw more support to the indigenous manufacturers.
All the bodies in charge of products coming into the county like Immigration and SON are corrupt, they collect bribe from owners of substandard products to smuggle them into the country, putting lives of the citizens in danger. Another thing is that there should be a censor board that will carry out various tests on every product before it gets to the final consumer. For instance, in the entertainment industry, they have censor board that scrutinises movies etc. If all these are put in place, it will reduce influx of substandard products to the barest minimum and also the organisation mentioned above should do their jobs as expected to avoid substandard products coming into the country.
The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) must be proactive in making sure they block all entries of substandard products into the country; the border patrol should beef up their security i.e they should be given sophisticated arms to fight smugglers and there should be a meeting of leaders of suspected countries involved and they should reach agreements to how to stop the influx of these products.
The high rate of substandard products in Nigeria is alarming. People are not worried about the amount of the products but scared of buying substandard products, the only thing I know the government can do to curb the influx is by creating a very strict law and the law. Example, if any substandard product is found in any shop, the whole goods in the shop should be burnt. People selling substandard product should be treated as people attempting to commit murder; most accident that happen on the roads are due to damage of substandard products on the car like tyre brake pads without the driver knowing it is substandard. If all these can be done, I guarantee the influx of substandard products into the country will be curbed but before it can be judicially enforced, the government must first define what is considered as substandard and clearly state the banned products.
There should be balance and checks, people working at the ports and borders of the country should work hand in hand with Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in making sure that goods brought into the country meet with minimum requirements. However, even if this is done, there is the issue of corruption where people cut corners and receive bribes and this defeats the whole purpose.
Copyright 2016 Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.