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NIGERIA: NAGAFF queries SON’s competence … Calls for ‘accreditators’ to break regulatory agency’s ‘monopoly’ .. Freight forwarders threaten strike over agency’s ‘sabotage’


If the National
Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has its way, the
Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) may just not be the sole organisation
regulating the quality of products manufactured in Nigeria or those imported
into the country.
In an interview
in his office, the NAGAFF National President, Chief Eugene Nweke, questioned
SON’s competence and the monopoly it enjoys in the execution of its brief.
“There is
need for independent product conformity assessment bodies, also known as
‘accreditators’; these are professional bodies or associations of industries in
the private sector,” Nweke said.

He said that the
proposed accreditators were a necessity “against the backdrop that the
trading and consuming public seem to have lost confidence” in SON’s
Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) and the Mandatory Conformity
Assessment Programme (MANCAP).
SON’s conformity
assurance system, according to him, called to question the organisation’s
competence.
The NAGAFF boss
said: “This is so because most products bearing SONCAP/MANCAP
certification littering the market are obviously substandard products failing
the national standardisation. It is the right and duty of national legislation
to accredit standardisation body acting naturally with it.
“Recall
that product testing and certification is aimed at evaluating the quality of
the product itself which the assurance system by a professional body is aimed
to assuring the purchaser that the manufacturer of such product has in place a
viable and effective system that is capable of producing product of consistent
quality with little or no variation.”
While noting
that, ideally, the trading public relies on the manufacturer’s declaration that
the product so purchased meets standard, Nweke said that the relevance of
standardisation cannot be overemphasised, because, according to him, standards
depend greatly on the level of confidence reposed in the manufacturer’s
statement that the product meets a particular standard by the trader.
In a related
development, NAGAFF has expressed angst that the meeting scheduled by the
Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to hold at its Shippers’ Towers head office in
Apapa, Lagos, between the various registered freight forwarders associations
and the SON Director-General, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, on September 29, 2014, had to
be put off indefinitely, at the instance of Odumodu, who sent his regrets
that he is not able to attend the meeting.
In a press
release, the NAGAFF Management Headquarters stated that, in the aftermath of
the abortive meeting, the NSC may meet and decide what step to take. 
NAGAFF said:
“It is sad and regrettable the impunity with which SON as an agent of the
government is in breach of rule of law in our country. It is an illegality for
SON to lay siege and arrest containers on the city highways of Lagos State. We
consider this as an act of sabotage to the transformation programme of the
President of the Federal Republic, which is built around rule of law, integrity
and development. 

“The
freight forwarders shall meet in due course to consider other options to
stop this illegality against international trade in Nigeria. Withdrawal of
services from the ports may receive popular opinion of freight
practitioners, because we are not in a banana republic or Somalia. The mandate
of SON is limited to warehouses and factories of manufacturers of goods.”

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