TWO key federal agencies, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have expressed their commitment to intensify intra-agency collaborations towards ridding the country of fake and sub-standard products.
It would be recalled that fake and sub-standard food and drug items have been responsible for the loss of several lives across the country.
The Director-General, SON, Osita Aboloma, explained that the move would also strengthen the existing partnership between both agencies to stamp out the illicit trade in Nigeria.
The SON boss stated this when the Director General, NAFDAC, Mrs Moji Adeyeye paid a courtesy visit to SON office in Abuja recently.
The SON Chief Executive added that the two sister regulatory agencies have the collective responsibility of working for the overall interest of the nation and her citizenry.
According to him, the enabling Acts of the two agencies, as well as directives from the Presidency, have clearly delineated their functions, stressing that areas of perceived overlap should be taken as opportunities for collaboration and cooperation rather than competition.
He stated that the use of the Harmonized Systems (HS) Codes for examination of goods at the nation’s entry points was in line with international best practices and aimed at reducing conflicts to the barest minimum.
Aboloma advocated the expansion of the seamless collaboration between the two agencies in standards development activities at technical committees, standards compliance and enforcement as well as the joint membership of institutions like the National Codex Committee on food safety among others.
He explained that the inspection visits by SON officials to factories producing NAFDAC regulated products based on SON’s Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) have remained statutory and in line with the World Trade Organisation requirements.
This according to Mr Aboloma was in relation to the off-shore Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) for imported products in order to ensure a level playing field for locally manufactured and imported products.
In her response, the new NAFDAC Chief Executive thanked her counterpart for the warm reception accorded her team and acknowledged the need for greater synergy between the two agencies.
Adeyeye stated that her decades of practice as an academician and researcher in functionalities of raw materials and chemicals had impacted on her, the value of standardization and its role in human and societal development.
She likened the structure of the two agencies in Nigeria to what obtains in the United States of America where collaborative co-existence between the American Standards Institute and the Food and Drug Administration Department (FDA) has been taken to enviable heights.
Mrs Adeyeye commended the existing cordial relationship between the two agencies and advocated for greater synergy to ensure smooth baton exchange in the standards development and regulatory activities.
The NAFDAC DG promised to provide the required support to her team towards the achieving of the objectives of the joint standing committee of the two agencies.
“I look forward to greater and more regular interactions with the SON DG and management in the coming years to deepen the existing cordial relationship,” she said.
Our correspondent also gathered that following creation of NAFDAC, SON handed over food and drug items regulations to NAFDAC. However, the setting of standards for some of the products, particularly agricultural products have remained within the purview of SON