By Charles Nwaoguji
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is putting structures in place to establish regional laboratories in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria for testing products and ensuring that standardization is deepened in the country.
The Special Assistant to the Director General, SON, Mr. Bola Fashina, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.
According to Fashina, the organisation already has in its 2020 budget, plans to establish laboratories in the six zones to ensure that made-in-Nigeria products meet required standards for certification for local consumption and export in order to take optimum advantage of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He said SON would ensure that products within each region could easily be tested at the regionally laboratories, instead of sending them only to its laboratories in Lagos, Kaduna or Enugu from all other parts of the country.
“In the last four to five years, we have had a new laboratory complex consisting of about 32 laboratories in Ogba Industrial Estate in Lagos up and running. A lot of the laboratories there have already attained international accreditation to ensure that the results of whatever tests that are carried out there are acceptable globally,’’ he said.
Fashina noted that the establishment of the laboratories was aimed at supporting the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to ensure that Nigerian products and produce were easily exported without rejection. “Apart from these ones, we have other laboratories, namely textile and leather laboratory located in Kaduna, civil and mechanical engineering laboratory in Enugu, and other laboratories in our operational headquarters in Lekki, Lagos.
The Head, Public Relations, SON, further said that a national metrology institute was being constructed to take care of the science of measurement and accuracy in Nigeria and West African to support rapid industrialization.
He explained that the institute would provide the primary source of standards for measurement to ensure accuracy in length, volume or mass, among others to ensure that manufacturing and trading were done with accuracy.
Fashina said that the Institute would also ensure that machines used in manufacturing in the country were calibrated from time to time to ensure accuracy.
“It is an ongoing project that was being funded in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Organisation (UNIDO) because laboratories evolve with technology as taste of people change all over the world and in view of the fact that standards are not static.“Standards all over the world are being harmonized at regional, international and continental levels, often times national standards in food are usually adopted from the codex alimentarius commission standards. The Commission, also known as CAC is the central part of the joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme established to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food worldwide.
“It is only in cases where such standards do not exist that you find new standards being developed for products that are just emerging. “Once they are developed, it makes trading across borders very easy,’’ he said.
Fashina expressed SON’s commitment to continue to invest in developing more laboratories and ensure they attain international accreditation in view of the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.