Leadership (Abuja)

6 July 2010

Nigeria: SON Wants Steel, Flour to Meet NIS Standards

Lagos — The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has revised the standard process involved in flour production and has, therefore, asked producers to include folic acid in their products.

The regulatory body also gave steel firms this month as deadline, to conform to production of standard steel.

SON closed down about eight steel firms in Lagos recently.

Director-General, SON, Dr. John Akanya, said this during a technical committee meeting in Lagos meant to review the Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS) for wheat flour, maize flour, Semolina and fortificants premix or Vitamin A.

Akanya, who was represented by the Director, Quality Control, SON, Margaret Essiet, said this is necessary as the global community has observed that flour produced in Nigeria lacks folic acid.

She said: "Folic acid is supposed to prevent neurotic defect in children that are born with hunch back and all those deformed centres that cannot support their carriage, of course, with everyday development, we have to incorporate them because standards are subject to review."

She said Nigeria is going to benefit because the meeting is also a collaboration with the support of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, (GAIN).

"Recent research has shown that if a person was deficient in vitamin A, he cannot take in folic acid. So, today, we are mandating folic acid into our standards as we have incorporated it in our flour, semolina and premix standard producers."

On enforcement, she noted that it is when the technical committee has approved it that it will go to Standard Council for approval.

"Immediately that happens, let us say within three weeks, it becomes enforceable because they are mandatory standards. The manufacturers are here. They will agree on it. And as for defaulters, the punishment is that the companies will be closed," she added

On the influx of sub-standard Chinese goods into the country, SON said government has concluded arrangements to check the trend.

Also, the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Josephine Tapgun, during her visit to the office of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, said President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese government on the issue.

She said: "The MoU will be signed on August 1, 2010, and what remains is to tidy up the arrangement to ensure it works.

"We have set up a committee to do a proper homework to ensure that there are no loopholes after signing the agreement."

Tapgun noted that the Chinese government had promised to properly monitor and ensure that goods imported from China met the Nigerian industrial standards.

According to her, the development will be a victory for Nigeria if the government can stop the flooding of its markets with poor quality goods.

She described the importation of substandard goods as an act of terrorism because it could lead to the loss of lives and property, as well as impoverish the citizens.

while Akanya, give the ultimatum to the executive officers of the various steel firms at the SON office in Lagos during another meeting stakeholders in steel manufacturing sector to fast track enforcement of standards for the sector.

Akanya directed that all steel companies are to comply with the procurement and installation of a functional calibrated Universal Testing Machine (UTM) and Spectrometer before the end of July, 2010.

"Those firms whose test equipment are still in transit should show proof of procurement orders of such equipment," he said.

According to him, those firms should submit evidence of purchase, batch of production, test certificate of purchase based on batch report of production with tag inscription of QC Passed.

He reiterated that SON would continue to offer technical services and support to companies adding defaulting companies would be seriously sanctioned.

"SON will be ready to collaborate and assist the various firms with information and knowledge that would enable the companies to thrive.

He noted that the National Monitoring Committee that was set up discovered that some companies refused to change their products realisation process to meet Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS).

Akanya listed the committee report findings to also include failure to have UTMS equipment and faulty calibrated machine resulting to inconsistency in product control and management.

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