GOODWILL MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL/CHIEF EXECUTIVE, STANDARDS ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA (SON),MR. OSITA A. ABOLOMA, AT THE ANNUAL NATIONAL CONSUMERS SUMMIT AND THE 2016 FAIR COMPETITION AWARDS ORGANISED BY THE CONSUMER RIGHTS AWARENESS, ADVANCEMENT & ADVOCACY INITIATIVE (CRAAAI) ON THURSDAY , 8TH DECEMBER, 2016, AT THE LAGOS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY (LCCI) EXHIBITION CENTRE, ALAUSA, LAGOS,
THE CHAIRMAN, CONSUMER RIGHTS AWARENESS, ADVANCEMENT AND ADVOCACY INITIATIVE (CRAAAI),
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE OCCASION,
THE EXECUTIVES OF CRAAAI,
DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY,
GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS,
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLE MEN,
Let me first and foremost congratulate the executives and members of Consumer Rights Awareness Advancement & Advocacy Initiative (CRAAI) for the noble and timely initiative of organizing a forum like this, which seeks to promote the culture of fair competition amongst companies in Nigeria and encourage them to innovate and deliver unique products and services that will support the consumers’ right of choice, information, safety and satisfaction.
The Consumer Rights Awareness Advancement & Advocacy Initiative (CRAAI) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have been partners since CRAAI was incorporated in 2013, particularly in the areas of consumer and stakeholder education, and investigation of substandard products on the markets. Therefore, it is my great pleasure to deliver a goodwill message centering on Standards as Tools to Promote and Advance the Rights of the Consumer.
In very simple terms, a standard is an agreed way of doing something. More comprehensively, standards are precise and authoritative documents that set guidelines, requirements, specifications and good practice for organisations to follow. The purpose of standards is to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. Standards are written by groups of people who have relevant knowledge about a given subject and meet to agree on the content. Therefore standards are based on the principle of consensus. The Technical Committees, as these groups are called, include industry experts, academics, manufacturers, retailers, and representatives of various consumer groups. Therefore, one can say that even before a product is produced and sold, or a service is conceived and delivered, standards promotes the rights of the consumers by ensuring that their performance and quality expectations are translated and integrated into the technical parameters for delivery.
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) was established by an Enabling Act No. 56 of 1971 and is currently governed by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (Repeal and Re-enactment) Act of 2015. Vested with the power to compile Nigerian Industrial Standard specifications, SON is the national bureau for standards in Nigeria. In addition, its mandate includes to monitor conformity to and ensure compliance to standards, including certification of systems, products, and laboratories throughout Nigeria, and to “establish a Register for National Standards, Standard Marks, and Certification Systems.
A Nigerian Industrial Standard may falls into the following categories, namely, Terminology standards, Dimensional standards, Performance standards, Testing standards, Product standards, Codes of practice, Process standards, Service standards and Measurement standards. As a member of ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), SON has access to over 2500 international standards. Thus, Standards define quality criteria for respective products/services, provides a level playing field for all producers, and enable producers understand, produce and deliver consumers’ expectations
In order to avail consumers of the benefits of standardization and promote global competitiveness among domestic manufacturers through compliance with the relevant Nigerian Industrial standards (NIS) or the equivalent international standards, SON operates certification schemes, which include:
Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP)
- This monitors the quality of all locally manufactured products for compliance with the applicable NIS. It is mandatory for all locally manufactured products being put into the market or exported. Products which are MANCAP certified are authorized to carry the MANCAP.
Voluntary Product Certification Scheme (Nigerian Quality Mark)
The Nigerian Quality Mark was launched last year to replace the old NIS certification. This new scheme rewards excellent product performance through consistent compliance to the requirements of the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards at the point of production and on the market. It is also designed to encourage manufacturing industries to continually improve the quality of their products and production processes. Products that meet the requirements of the scheme are issued with the licence/permit to display the Nigerian Quality Mark.
SON Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP)
- The Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) requires that regulated imports comply with the approved technical and other specifications acceptable in Nigeria. Imported products which meet the requirements of the applicable Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS) and/or other approved International Standards. standards can be affixed with the logo.
These certification programmes advances the consumers’ rights to information on the quality of goods and services available in Nigeria. Standards also help support basic consumer rights by addressing concerns related to:
- Protection of health and safety
- Fitness for purpose (performance)
- Quality and reliability
- Ease of use
- Environmental protection
- Compatibility between products (interoperability)
- Transparency of product information and labeling
- Protection from false or misleading claims
- Choice among goods and services and competitive pricing (fair competition)
- Systems of redress, such as complaints handling and processing of claims
- Consistency in the delivery of services
- Suitability of products for vulnerable populations (such as children, persons with disabilities, and the elderly)
Standards therefore promote consumer confidence with the assurance that all goods manufactured, sold and distributed in Nigeria meet established standards and are fit for purpose.
As consumers, many of us have been faced with the situation where some stores issue receipts on goods sold to consumers with a caveat “Goods sold in good condition cannot be returned”. Who then is liable in the case of a product failure or a substandard product? This requirement on product liability is addressed in the Nigerian Industrial Standard for Product Liability NIS 506: 2006 which states that suppliers of goods and services have the responsibility and obligation to ensure that defective products and services are not sold to consumers.
The Product Liability Standards seeks to promote the Consumers’ right to
- Transparent and Effective Protection
- Fair Business, Advertising and Marketing practices (the seller is expected to avoid any practise that is deceptive, misleading or unfair to the consumer)
- Information about the Producer/supplier
- Information about the goods and services
- Information about the terms and conditions of the transaction to enable consumers make informed choices.
- A confirmation process
- Easy to use and secure payment mechanisms and limitations of liability for fraudulent use of payment systems.
The Standard states that anyone involved in the production of goods and services (importer, supplier, wholesaler or retailer) is liable if the product is defective at the time the product is being put in circulation. It also outlines the provisions for dispute resolution and redress. Therefore, everyone in the supply chain viz. the manufacturer, the seller, importer and the consumer must clearly understand the warranty conditions and attributed liabilities, bearing in mind the basic rights of a consumer: right to safety, right to information, right to be heard, right to seek redress, right to education, right to choose and right to satisfaction.
On this note, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) wishes to extend her hand of fellowship to CRAAAI, sister consumer centred agencies and organisations to embrace standards and all its attendant benefits, thus advancing the rights of the Nigerian consumer. To our industry stakeholders, adoption of standards is the sure way to level the playing field, improve the quality of your product/service offering, and become more competitive both locally and globally,
I thank you all for listening and God bless!
OSITA ANTHONY ABOLOMA
Director General/Chief Executive, SON