The Director-General of Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, has said his vision for the next 50 years is for SON to become the foremost standardisation body in Africa and among the top ranking globally.
Salim, who spoke at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of SON in Abuja, on Monday, said in the last 50 years, the organisation has faithfully continued its policy of trade facilitation and promoting government’s economic policies and agenda.
He however noted that while his vision for the organisation is achievable, SON needs to surmount severe challenges such as political changes in government policies which allows removal of the organisation at points of entry and low disposable income that drives purchase of substandard products.
He also decried challenges posed by foreign trade policy of some governments that actively encourage exportation of substandard products and increase in litigation against activities of SON, among others.
According to him, to overcome its challenges, the organisation needs to invest in critical areas such as efficient workforce with required skill sets, cutting edge technology as well as appropriate and strategic infrastructure, and enhanced meaningful collaboration with stakeholders.
Speaking on achievements of SON, Salim said in the last two years, SON has “entered into agreements with state governments for development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, sustained engagement with stakeholders towards ensuring that our industries remain competitive thereby securing employment for our teeming youths and minimizing threats to national security.
Other achievements were expansion of the structure of the organisation to reduce stagnation and staff discontentment, massive capacity development of staff through continual training; in 2022 alone, over 600 staff have been trained representing about 35 per cent of the workforce, among others.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum, described SON as one of the oldest government institutions in Nigeria, which has over the years, developed into an effective national standardisation body comparable to its peers all over the world.
Katagum said the government of General Yakubu Gowon, set up the agenecy in 1971, because of the critical need for establishing and enforcing appropriate standards of quality in all aspects of national life.
“One of the goals of this Administration is that the country’s economy, especially the manufacturing sector, benefits fully from the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“The role of SON in achieving this is obvious as the assurance of adherence to internationally accepted standards, which SON ensures, will eliminate technical barriers to trade, making our products more competitive. I wish to assure the Organisation of the continued support of the Ministry in its efforts to achieve this objective.
“In acknowledgement of its consistent implementation of reforms aimed at making its services more easily accessible to the public, SON has been ranked first in the Ease of Doing Business by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
“In addition, the Organisation recently received an Award from the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for Ease of Doing Business in the Information Technology Sector. These two recognitions are no doubt fitting anniversary gifts which will of course challenge the organisation to keep up its good work,” she said.