AfCFTA: SON Commences Regulation of Management System Services
Ahead of the full implementation of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commenced regulation of Management System Certification (MSC) services in the country.
According to the Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, bringing sanity into management system practice would go a long way to eradicating quackery in management system practice, while also giving Nigeria the competitive and comparative advantage to compete in the trade pact.
Highlighting the benefits of MSC to trade, the Director General said MSC helps to improve productivity and efficiency, reduce cost for businesses, increase market share and gain access to new markets.
He said the move was to put an end to uncertified and incompetent certification bodies who shortchange the unsuspecting Nigerian consumers.
Salim at a one day stakeholders’ engagement for the National Register for Conformity Assessment Practitioners (NRCAP) in Lagos, however pastated that the stakeholders’ engagement forum is important to reiterate that conformity assessment practice is very central to the sustenance of commercial success and continuity in all sectors, pointing out that the role of management systems practitioners is vital to ensuring that practices carried out by the industries are in alignment with international best practice in terms of the expectations of existing conformity assessment standards.
In his words: “In view of the importance of the authenticity and traceability of products and services, adjudged to have met the requirements of relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards and other approved specifications, SON seeks to pursue the implementation of, Part II, Section 4(d) and Part III, Section 5 of the SON Act No.14 of 2015, via the operation of the NRCAP scheme, in order to establish a directory of verified and registered Conformity Assessment Practitioners in Nigeria for all laboratories, Management system Consultants, Training Service Providers, Certification bodies, inspection bodies, inspectors, auditors and assessors.”
He stated that the lack of regulations of the activities of practitioners over the years has negatively impacted the industry and country significantly which includes poor protection of genuine practitioners from the negative impacts of unhealthy competition by quacks, poor visibility and recognition of genuine and competent practitioners capable of attracting patronage and partnerships for enhanced trade relationship and poor value for money for unsuspecting customers patronising quacks who deliver poor services.
Salim also stressed that the unavailability of an official register of competent practitioners to aid national planning and coordination of economic activities that border on standardisation and quality assurance is also a challenge hindering professional management system practice in the nation.
“This engagement is guided by the strategic collaboration/partnership that SON shares with your various organizations over time especially with the SON Management Systems Certification and Training Services departments with which you interface through your customers, of which you are expected to bring to bear, your wealth of experience to this national call,” he said.
The SON boss stated that the registration processes including approved guidelines, expectations of benchmarking Conformity Assessment standards and interests while developing the documents were taken into considerations to ensure that the impartiality of the process is assured.
He stressed that the impartiality committee members to drive the process were drawn from critical sectors of the economy like the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), NACCIMA amongst others and adequately trained for the onerous task.
“All these was carried out to safeguard the integrity of the process of registration,” he assured.
He added that the registration process will no doubt strengthen the mutual responsibility that SON and critical stakeholders share as partners in the task of nation building and position businesses for better visibility and recognition.
Also speaking, the first president of the Society for Management System Practitioners of Nigeria, Engr. Bode Oke, said the group would join hands with SON to prune quacks in the system in its bid to ensure that consumers get value for money spent.
“We are here to share our knowledge and to join SON in the registration of all management system practitioners. We are going to partner with SON to ensure that the exercise is successful, because we have a lot of companies practicing management systems that are not trained and competent,” he warned.
“We are working together with SON to ensure that we remove all those incompetent people from the system so that whenever a client approaches practitioners for registration, the client will know that he will not be shortchanged and get value for the money spent,” he said.
He said the roles of system practitioners are vital in business growth and development, maintaining that system practitioners are responsible for taking companies through quality management systems certification, environmental management system certification, occupational health and safety certification and food management system certification.
“The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) have established standards for all management systems and therefore, anyone that would lead companies to obtain these certification must be competent and this is why SON is regulating all the auditors, consultants and even the certification bodies, because we have some certification bodies coming from outside the country that are not competent, so competency is the key word here,” he averred.
On her part, a Consultant in the Quality Management System Practice, Patricia Solarin, said standardisation is germane for industrial development, saying that the stakeholders meeting would help to checkmate quacks.
“There are so many briefcase carrying consultants that are going around duping clients and most of these consultants did not even pass their audit test and examination. Without standardisation or regulations, they can practice because there is no law against it as a lot of companies are being shortchanged because people taking them through certification do not really know much, so SON is trying to register auditors and consultants which is a welcome development to ensure that people get value for their hard money spent,” she said.