By OLAJIDE FABAMISE, Lagos –
About N15 billion is said to be annually lost to fake and substandard products in Nigeria, LEADERSHIP findings have revealed. Fake and substandard products that span all classes and categories of items from drugs, electrical, electronic household appliances and equipment, building materials, tyres and tubes, automobiles, machine spare parts, food and machines to mention a few their continue to find their ways into the market.
This is just as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) recently shut down some steel industries at Ikorodu in Lagos State for producing substandard products which did not meet up with the standard conformity. Nigeria continue to be ranked among the world’s highest market for fake and substandard products and equipment.
This is evidenced by the wanton display of all manner of poor quality goods and products littering the open markets, shops, supermarkets, chemist and other retail shops. Industry analysts said lives are lives are lost in road accidents when substandard tyres imported from Asia burst on high-speed and vehicles either summersault or swerve into other vehicles on the highway.
Director-General of SON, Mr. Osita Aboloma said “Fake and substandard products chased away good products which led to factories closing down and hundreds of thousands becoming jobless. We must understand that for us as a nation any import into Nigeria is a job created for the exporter country. It is also a job loss for Nigeria.
“It is better for us as a country to patronize Nigeria-made products for two main reasons: By buying Nigerian products, we are helping to create employment opportunities for our teeming school leavers and build a better and stronger economy for our country. Secondly, you are also helping government to protect our citizens from the evil effects of substandard products.
“The SON is trying its best to make sure that goods in Nigeria are not substandard, and closures of industries are not malicious” he said. LEADERSDHIP findings revealed that about 99 per cent of the fake and substandard products, which are in circulation in the country, are sourced from China. The findings also provided that Nigeria came second as China trade partners in Africa, after South Africa.
It was learnt that for every original product in Nigeria, its fake alternative is readily available in the market. And the products ranges from iron steel, electronics to household equipment like television, cables, sockets, bulbs, fridges, stoves, cooking pots as well as household utensils. Also listed are products like wines, juice, matches, body creams, confectioneries and phones.
Some analysts who spoke with LEADERSHIP have averred that the influx of counterfeit iron steel and sub-standard products into the domestic market raises serious doubts about the current efforts by the federal government to resuscitate the real sector for it to contribute meaningfully to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
They observed that government’s inability to provide steady electricity supply, adequate security, are some the things that promote importation of fake and counterfeit products. They also believed if the government is committed to its people, the citizens would not patronise any counterfeit or substandard product.
While reacting to the activities of substandard iron rods, a public affairs analyst, Olalekan Olaiya said that, “they are a disservice to the life and well-being of Nigerians but as long as these products continue to get patronage in the market it will be difficult to eradicate them. Indeed, as long as poverty remains a challenge for the average Nigerian he will continue to patronize sellers of such products.
He however said he “believes that the effect of the tremendous progress accomplished by the Aboloma as DG SON in the fight to reduce the prevalence of fake and substandard products in the market has rubbed off positively on government agencies across the board. Besides the challenge of corruption which is not peculiar to these agencies, they are doing their best”.
While responding to the cost effect of fake and substandard goods on investors, Olaiya maintained that producers of genuine goods will suffer low sales and subsequently a poor return on investment, translating to loss of jobs, reduction in tax payment to government and a weak economy that is unable to compete at the international level. It discourages production and encourages imports which are not good for the economy” he said.
He noted that producers of fake and substandard goods do not pay taxes. “They do not observe extant laws on the environment and labour laws. They employ slave labour and pay pittance to their employees. Such practices are detrimental to the development of an economy.