There is a popular saying that two good heads are always better than one. In soccer, people talk of team work as a necessity to win the game.
Flowing from above, there is no doubt that the work of standardisation and quality control requires the collaborative efforts of the various operators and stakeholders with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
Indeed, observers say that market associations are so critical in the areas of monitoring, compliance and enforcement of standards. Engaging these associations remains almost a sine qua non towards sanitising the markets and environment from fake and sub-standard products.
Therefore, for SON, it was actually heart-warming when the top echelons of Alaba International Amalgamated Traders Association (AIATA), Alaba International Market, Ojo- Alaba, Lagos, came calling, recently on SON Lekki, Lagos operational headquarters. The leadership of the market association paid a courtesy visit to the Director General, SON Farouk Salim. It was the first of its kind since the new DG, SON mounted the saddle of leadership of the organisation.
SON has always identified and engaged operators in the various sectors and sub-sectors of the nation's economy. Granted that the engagement and stakeholders' collaborations need to be robust, therefore the visit of AIATA, apart from being auspicious, was equally so significant.
Insiders told our correspondent that the visit was in tandem with the vision of the DG, SON which include carrying along operators and stakeholders in the concerted efforts of the federal government to grow the nation's economy. The event was a preparatory ground for SON towards staging stakeholders' sensitization fora and workshops for market associations such as AIATA. Alaba International Market remains the hub of electricals and electronics business in the West African sub-region.
In overall, such visits/meetings with the external publics remain mutually beneficial to all parties concerned. In his remarks, the DG, SON, disclosed that the agency has concluded plans to re-double its campaign against products fakers and counterfeiters, adding that stiffer measures would henceforth be taken against persons caught in such acts.
He stated categorically that the agency would halt the registration of products having similar business names with existing brands, regretting that unscrupulous dealers hide under the names of successful and popular brands to short-change the brand owners and end-users.
He declared: "The issue of trademark cannot be handled alone by SON, but going forward, we are putting a stock of the products we register and certify. Anytime a new product comes and looks similar to another products registered that is already popular in the market, we will try to discourage the registration of such products with such a name so that other products would be identified properly."
According to the Director General, SON would increase its level of engagement with operators in the Alaba International Market in order to protect the interest of the business community while also safe guarding lives and property.
"The task is for us to continue co-operation, collaborations, openness and to be fair with one another. We want you to be our eyes in the market. Help us make our work easy because we are out here to make you competitive. Let us work together to make this happen as we would be reaching out to everyone in the market."
The Director General further stated that SON would reach out to the business community through sensitization programmes which would be organised to highlight the negative impacts of sub-standard goods on business, commerce, industry as well as the economy. He made it clear that the agency would not fail to enforce its laws either by court or through appropriate regulatory actions on unscrupulous persons dealing on sub-standard goods and brand cloning; maintaining that there should always be the need to ensure safety and standards.
On his own part, the executive chairman, Alaba Amalgamated Traders, Chief Fabian Ezeorjika noted that there has been an existing partnership with SON working to achieve what he called "a sub-standard-free market."
The President of the association reaffirmed the members' commitment to working with SON to fish out the bad eggs in the market, saying that the association had formed a Joint Task Force comprising SON officials and currently running a "buyer beware campaign" in the market.
"SON has destroyed a lot of bad products while some of our members are in court and we are going to increase the level of collaboration with SON because we want to bring an end to substandard goods."
He called on SON to encourage local production, to boost wealth creation and job opportunities for the nation's teeming youths. "We need to create a conducive environment for local production. Importation only creates job opportunities for people we import from. We must create a platform to boost local production," he restated.
The import of the meeting on both sides SON and AIATA could be underscored by the attendance and presence of SON top officials including the DG himself as well as the leadership of the market association.
Again, both SON and AIATA agreed to deepen their collaborations, even as issues of self-regulation, information-sharing as well as strengthening the association were equally stressed. The meeting therefore would be impactful towards helping SON to attain the goal of flushing out from that market fake and substandard electrical materials.