By law, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) is a body saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that products used in manufacturing within the country and products imported into the country meet global quality standards. This is to safeguard the health and safety of the citizens of the country. SON was established by Act No. 56 of 1971 and subsequent amendments with the following mandate: designation, establishment, approval and declaration of standards in respect of metrology, materials, commodities, structures and processes, certification of products in commerce and industry throughout Nigeria, quality control of products, weights and measures. Its mandate also includes: regulating matters relating to metrology towards ensuringreference standards for calibration and verification of measures and measuring instruments, investigation of quality of products, enforcement of standards, registration and regulation of standard marks and specifications among several others. Instructively, the functions of SON are very expansive including: the preparation of standards relating to products, measurements, materials, processes, certification of industrial products made in Nigeria or imported into Nigeria, certification of industrial goods, to help in producing quality goods and circulation of quality standards of products, organising works in tandem with its foreign counterparts to ensure that the menace of fake and substandard products circulating is reduced to the barest minimum. The law requires that all manufactured goods in Nigeria to have SON registration number or certificate; products may have on e-registration numbers. This shows consumers that the product meets certified standards and is safe for use. The battle of the organization against the menace of substandard products is a never-ending one. Poor funding from the government continues to weaken the ability of the agency to perform their responsibilities. There is nothing wrong with each state of the federation having a SON laboratory and enough man power to ensure that quality standard of products for consumers is maintained. Nigeria is currently in the throes of a recession that has crippled a lot of business activities. This is certainly the time when SON has to be more proactive than ever as there may be an increase in the influx of substandard goods into the country and their cheap prices. Unfortunately for the manufacturing sector too, the influx of foreign and substandard products into the country has also crippled their activities. Instructively, the new Director General at SON, Osita Anthony Aboloma, an astute lawyer with vast experience in diverse callings has vowed to take up the challenge of ridding the nation of fake and substandard goods.
He holds a Bachelor of Law degree (LL.B) Hons from the then Bendel State University, Ekpoma 1991 and a B.L. from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos in 1992. An alumnus of the Anglican Grammar School, Ubulu-Uku, in Delta State, Mr. Aboloma has been in legal practice since 1992. He started with JajaWachukwu and Company, Abuja and later OkunadeOlorundare (SAN) and Company as Counsel involved in preparation and perfection of loan and equipment leasing agreements, deeds of assignment, mortgages, debentures and guarantee bonds, legal aspects of sale and purchase of lands as well as debt recovery and litigation. He set up OsitaAboloma and Associates in 1997 where he was Principal Partner until his appointment. The scope of legal practice spanned telecommunication, media and energy; corporate finance & banking; commercial; employment; property and litigation. The Director General of SON was also Legal Consultant to the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum; U. A. C Properties Nigeria Plc; Securities & Exchange Commission on capital market issues; Central Bank of Nigeria and many commercial banks. He believes there is need for constant sensitization of people, most especially retailers and random checks on goods as well. He hopes to achieve this by ensuring a revisit to SON’s presence at our sea ports as it is easier to stop the influx of substandard goods from the entry points than to battle them later when they have been distributed. We must note that SON would require highly trained and experienced personnel as activities of those involved in substandard products are becoming more technical. The establishment of more laboratories to reduce the work load on existing ones to enable effective and faster testing of goods as a shorter period. With the recent federal government’s authorization to SON to imprison dealers who sell substandard products, the move has given a new bite to the organization’s activities to arrest and prosecute offenders without delay. Taking advantage of this law will also serve as a deterrent to others who decide to endanger the health of the citizens. Beyond the foregoing is the fact that there is more need now than ever before for SON to frequently and more adequately sensitise the populace about its activities, successes, challenges and plans. Aware of the fact that a sensitised people are saved from the temptation of patronizing and/or consumption of fake/substandard products and attendant adverse consequences to self and the nation’s health, constantly sensitizing the polity must be a front burner agenda of SON. Good enough, the new DG has reasonable experience in the media. We hold that this is one sure way to success in the prosecution of the war against fakery.