The House of Representatives has urged the federal government to reconsider its decision to disallow the nation’s regulatory agencies, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), from operating at the nation’s ports and land borders.
The House made this plea, while discussing the issue, brought up by one of its members, Honourable Ndudi Elumelu, under its Matters of Urgent Public Importance.
According to the lawmakers, the continued restrictions of the two standards agencies, by the federal government, from those strategic places, could be used by purveyors of substandard products and their collaborators to carry out their nefarious and unpatriotic activities, unhindered.
They argued that it had become imperative to bring the agencies back to those places, if the nation was truly desirous of effectively protecting its citizens from the use of unwholesome goods.
The House expressed dismay that the two agencies had been withdrawn from the nation’s ports and land borders, on the orders of the federal government, since November 2011, despite their being statutorily empowered to access any premises, including the nation’s seaports, airports and land borders, where an industrial undertaking is being carried out.
The lower Chamber further noted that since their expulsion, from all land borders and ports, there had been unabated importation of substandard products into the country by unpatriotic Nigerians.
The House expressed concern that the ministerial directives withdrawing SON and NAFDAC, was done without taking into cognizance the compelling need for the agencies to be at all ports and borders in line with the requirement of the law.
“We are aware that the reasons for the withdrawal of SON and NAFDAC and other agencies of government canvassed by the Minister of Finance in 2011, was the slowing down of clearing of goods at ports and borders.
“ However it is pertinent to note that those reasons are no longer tenable, as clearances of goods are now done electronically, in support of the diversification of the economy in line with the presidential directive on the ease of doing business,” the lawmakers stated.
The lawmakers also expressed the belief that the physical presence of SON and NAFDAC, at the point of inspection and clearing of goods, would go a long way in complementing the shortcomings of the electronic clearance; since it would be impossible to access or ascertain the quality of goods being cleared, electronically, without the presence of those agencies.
Honourable Elumelu, who brought up the matter for discussion, would want the House Committee on Finance to interface with the Minister of Finance, on the urgent need to return the two federal agencies to the ports and land borders, as part of the strategy required to effectively check the unprecedented influx of sub-standard life-endangering products into the country.