By BLESSING OKEZIE, Abuja
In its deliberate bid to enhance actualization of federal government’s Ease of Doing Business initiative and ensure that all goods coming into Nigeria meet the stipulated minimum industrial standard of Nigeria, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), has entered into partnership with relevant stakeholders in international trade and importation of goods in the country.
The partnership, is targeted at enlightening the stake holders on the need to ensure that the activities of their members in the area of importation of goods into the country and clearing of goods at the ports conform to laid down rules and procedures set by the organisation.
Prominent among the stake holders who Thursday sealed their partnership with SON were the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and members of Alaba International Market Electronic Importers.
Addressing the stake holders, the Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Osita Anthony Aboloma, informed the stakeholders that SON has automated its operations to serve them better .
“Like every other automation process, we automated clearing processes to make our services readily available to the major stake holders like ANLCA.
“Automation will reduce human interference, reduce rent seeking make it easier, reduce turn around time of our services in order to serve them better because without automation the alternative is anarchy”.
According to Aboloma, the SON automation process is flawless, it reduces the turn around time for clearing.
He said the automation process is in stages, adding that there is automation in respect to product registeration, there is automation in respect of preshipment document that is SONCAP, and advised the stakeholders to adhere to step by step processes laid down by the organisation in goods clearing and importation.
“This is what you do first. You get our document, our certifications before you ship your goods to Nigeria. It is not a clearing documents per say so when somebody deliberately misinforms you that he incurred demurrage because of SONCAP, that is deliberate misinformation because you cannot even ship your product to Nigeria without securing your product certification. It makes process of clearing simple without compromising quality of goods that come into the country”, he explained.
On quality of goods, especially electronic products sold in Alaba International Market Lagos, the SON Director General, said through the partnership, he has given the traders benefit of doubt to do the right thing .
He noted that though they entered into the partnership as an association, but that he was aware that coming under association does not exonerate individuals from willful or deliberate attempt to reduce the quality of products that are sold to unsuspecting Nigerians .
He said going forward, SON, would hold them collectively and individually liable for non conformity to its standards.
“We just raised the bar and we have informed them accordingly that it is no longer business as usual because we consider most products that are selling at Alaba market as life threatening and anything that falls short of international best practice of minimum Nigerian industrial standard, we will seriously find out”.
He informed members of ANLCA, that the SON automation process is for smooth operation at the ports.
Responding, National President of ANLCA, Iju Anthony Nwabunike, said practical achievement of the federal government’s ease of doing business initiative was the main reason his group entered into the partnership with SON.
“Ease of doing business is our reason for this partnership with SON.
“The Ease of doing business will make things work seamlessly in the ports, federal government mentioned the ease of doing business.
“For us, seeing a situation where every government agency and stakeholders like us work in tandem to that level and achieve that result that is why we are here”.
He said custom agents want to partner with all government agencies in the port so that they can facilitate trade and achieve the purpose of launching ease of doing business.
He noted that automation of systems by the SON is upgrading of its standard, adding that it has helped the organisation to perform better but that all that the stakeholders need to do is to have patience and see everything work perfectly in the nearest future.