Interview: Citing SONCAP In China
Somebody like me I was part of China when China was opening up. I was one of the first Nigerians to enter China about 1986. At that point China was so poor.
I can tell you what happened in China: open policy. Opening the system for individuals to participate from their communist ideology to open—market ideology.
I was involved in setting up factories. I was involved in setting up joint foreign trade companies because I am evolving too. I am ashamed to still be going to China to buy.
Manufacturing all these things is as simple as ABC if the real atmosphere was there.
Number 1 we have to discourage massive importation; we have to discourage fraud in the payment of duties. We have to discourage fraud in substandard products so that we can compete.
When the man ( Mr. Majiagu) went back he narrated to the then DG, Mr. Akaya.Mr. Akaya invited me. When I came Mr. Akaya said, “Wow, so I can find someone to (work with?) So we became friends and started having meetings. That was how we started developing SONCAP together.
We started through product registration: whatever you are importing you come and register. I should be known by a particular brand of products. And by the time you brand and bring it in (2) two things are involved.
First, it will make people to start working on my product to continue to improve it to be acceptable in the market to a standard that will eventually lead to manufacturing. I must everyday work on my quality because it is my own.
Secondly, if you give me protection people will not be making counterfeit of my products.
And we said when anybody comes to register his products here in Nigeria then you (SON) will check the product and make sure that my product Elite Elegance (for example) gets to the standard that is acceptable in Nigeria, then you give me the certificate.
With this certificate I can open Form M to import Elite Elegance. Mr. B will have Form M to import his own whatever name ABCD.
Then when we bring these goods you will again check it. If the standard fails the product is seized and me (importer) would be stopped from importing anything.
Secondly, if you see in the ports anything Elite Elegance that is not from Leonard Okafor it is already fake. Nobody will even give you Form M to open. And this would encourage people to face their own products. So there were a lot of checks and balances.
There were a lot of things we put into this thing (SONCAP) and it was near perfect. But when SON wanted to implement they implemented product registration. When they wanted to do testing…I don’t know who went to China, made a deal with InterTech, FGS and they said they can inspect for them, check the quality control for them in China, Singapore. And SONCAP was moved there.
They have two things product certification. At that time product certificate is like 1600 rmd to procure. The company InterTech would come and inspect things, make sure that the product gets to conformity. For you to import to Nigeria you need to get product certificate. This is not world-known quality control. This is just for Nigeria. Then as if they are gonna check the quality but really all these companies don’t check anything.
In China all it takes you is to bring papers and write standard of things and send to them nobody cares about your sample. You will never see any sample. You pay and they send you the product certificate.
When you ship the goods you now send them papers that you have shipped so and so goods. They never come to check what you shipped and they give you SONCAP certificate.
You mean who would give you SONCAP?
The same InterTech.
When you want to ship?
After you shipped just send them document that I brought so and so containers to Nigeria, you pay about $200 dollars again and they give you SONCAP certificate. You send your SONCAP certificate to your customer.
SON believes that the product you shipped met standards. And that is why no standardization actually.
So you can write a very good quality content and send to them in their office and they pass you and give you product certificate. And when you ship you can even say you are shipping this but you actually shipped that.
Product registration ended after they started SONCAP product certification in China.
SONCAP: Standards Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Procurement.