The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of an Onitsha-based company- Chief Sylvester Okeke and other industrialists in Onitsha and its environs have registered displeasure on what they termed as harassment of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria in the South-east by some unscrupulous elements.
This is coming on the heels of the purported protest by an Onitsha-based company making the rounds in a cross-section of the national dailies. The protest involving workers of the aggrieved company led by one Mr. Benjamin Nwaizu is based on an alleged frustration of indigenous companies and corruption of some officials of the agency. In a telephone conversation, Chief Sylvester Okeke said; “As an advocate of what is right, I won’t just fold my arm and let some disgruntled manufacturers frustrate the good works the officials of SON are doing in Nigeria, particularly the south-east”.
Continuing, Chief Sylvester Okeke stated; “it was a shock to have read in one of the dailies that a company here in our Onitsha staged a protest. Over the years, we have had seamless and value-adding transaction with the agency and their officials and yet to recall a time we were threatened for the sake of bribe.
As a manufacturing outfit we have smoothly been going through our manufacturing routines like moving in machineries, going through certification, having SON engineer our processes and attended a number of knowledge-sharing and capacity-building workshops from the stables of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria”.
Speaking to other industrialists in Onitsha and its environs, it was confirmed that though the officials and agency could be tiring in the process of handling certification and their regulatory works of quality assurance, they can’t remember any case of threats and demands for bribe as claimed by Mr. Benjamin Nwaizu and his band of protesters.
They pointed out that for about three or four years now, the agency has been clamping hard on companies not conforming to standards or caught producing adulterated or fake materials. They further affirmed that SON has seen to the closure of some manufacturing companies and this may be the reason for this outburst.
Though they did not rule out the possibility of corruption as it has been a norm in the country, most of the industrialists contacted said the issue of an official of SON demanding bribe have not been their experience with the Standardisation body.
In Chief Sylvester Okeke’s word; “I recommend a full blown investigation into the matter to ascertain the company’s claim and also, to look into the aggrieved company’s profile, activities and products.
Justice must be served however the story goes. To the best of my knowledge, manufacturers who have been having issues with the agency in the south-east are those producing fake or substandard products. In my opinion, we have not had the agency have a firm grip on things like this before in this country”.