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SON laments less staff in a vast Nigeria

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By Usman Oladimeji

The organization needs government approval to hire more workers.

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have voiced concern that their current staff of less than 5,000 is insufficient to efficiently operate in such a vast country like Nigeria. Mallam Farouk Salim, Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (DG/CEO), SON, who was represented by Mr. Usman Mohammed, Director, South-South Region, stated this during a one-day stakeholders’ workshop organized by the agency, in Calabar, tagged : “SON: Partner In Progressive For Business Boom Via Standardization”

In attendance at the workshop are manufacturers from Cross River, including Lafarge, Flour Mill (Niger Mills), MAN (Manufacturers Association of Nigeria), Calabar Chambers of Commerce, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Cross River State Government and several others. Salim, in his post-event press briefing, acknowledged that Cross River, like every other state, faces a staffing shortage, nevertheless, the organization would need government approval in order to hire more workers. He continued, “Nigeria is a huge country, and although we have offices in nearly all of the states, we still don’t have enough manpower.”

SON in discussion with gov’t to set up more satellite offices.

He cited an example of Cross River, saying that the state would require at least 50 employees, but currently there is only 20. Given the vastness of the country’s northern region, the organization is also in discussions with the government to set up more satellite offices to relieve mobility strain moving from one region to another. He asserted that the workshop’s primary objective was to raise awareness among manufacturers about the necessity of meeting standards requirements and said that SON was doing this all around the nation.

Among SON’s obligation is inspecting locally manufactured and imported products, while the locally manufactured products factories are assessed through MANCAP (Mandatory Confirmatory Assessment Programme). He claimed that the organization does a good job of keeping tabs on the nation’s locally produced goods, but that it has greater challenges with foreign imports. Salim also urged the government to allow these operations to get back underway at the country’s seaports and borders so that substandard goods can be prevented from entering the country.

Government is considering bringing back SON to the ports.

The SON DG/CEO has pointed out that most of the substandard products sold locally are brought in through the port or the border, and that this is a cause for alarm. Meanwhile, the organization’s presence away from the borders and port adds complexity to its ability to fulfill its duty. He contends that the government is considering bringing back SON to the ports due to the high number of substandard goods entering the nation, and he guarantees that a substantial portion of these goods will no longer be allowed to enter.

Senior Special Adviser to the DG/CEO and National Coordinator of Sensitization Programmes Chief Emeka Duru had in his earlier remark assured that stakeholders concerns would be addressed in a timely manner. While assuring that all problems will be fixed, Chief Duru detailed the steps that have been taken to integrate SON’s contribution to aid and boost the national economy. He added that the DG/CEO has ensured that he travels to different states to meet and educate stakeholders given that the standards would not be in operation without them.

Steps to coordinating with stakeholders to meet all regulations.

On his part, Engr. Nimma Apim, the organization coordinator for the state of Cross River, said the event comes at the right time given the agreement Nigeria has signed to guarantee the continent maintains a standard. In addition to working with the government, they are coordinating with other stakeholders to meet all applicable regulations. Even though they has offices in mostly all of the states, it is implied that a lack of personnel is implied to be impacting the discharge of its duty.

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