The Nigeria of Sub-Standards
Though the phenomenon of fake and adulterated products has always been there, the situation has worsened over the past 15years. There had never been such a growing culture of sub-standard products and services as is the case now but unfortunately, our people seem to be settling down to it.
It is no exaggeration to state that Nigerian markets are flooded with sub-standard goods of every kind as there is hardly any original product anywhere. Whether one is talking about electronics; clothing/textiles or even food and beverages, the story is of the same, – fake products manufactured in China everywhere. It is believed that Nigerian businessmen go to countries like China to order for sub-standard products so as to maximize profit. This explains the reason why a product manufactured in China and sold in Nigeria is inferior to the same product manufactured in China but sold in American market. It is disheartening that even imported food is not spared this ugly trend, as was recently exposed by reports that some bags of imported rice have been mixed with some synthetic materials.
Inferior material is probably the first item the buyer is given once he arrives a market. No matter how determined he is to buy the high quality material, he is still short-changed except he is accompanied by a trusted and experienced person. So going to a place that you are certain to get original product is not a guarantee you will get such, because there are fakes everywhere, and it has become hard to differentiate the original from the fake.
What beats our imagination is how these fake and adulterated products escape detection by customs officials and other agencies at our borders, who issues them with clean Bill of health, thus allowing them to enter our markets.
What other explanation could there be for this, other than that money has exchanged hands between these unpatriotic importers and the agencies charged with the responsibility of stopping unwholesome products from entering Nigeria. Where were the Customs and Excise officials, SON, NAFDAC and the Consumers Protection Council (CPC) when such deadly products were smuggled into our markets and into our food chain? What is shocking about it all is that some of these sub-standard goods bear the imprint of the quality regulating agencies but are actually fake.
Take for instance the electronic industry, where there is hardly any imported original product anywhere in Nigerian market. Sadly, Nigerians seem to have settled for these fake and sub-standard goods because our government has failed to take any drastic measures to put a halt to the ugly trend. There is no sector where this culture of sub-standard products has not found its way including construction sector, where the incidence of collapsed structures, houses, tunnels, flyovers etc with the attendant loss of lives have been rampant since the past four years, as a result of the use of sub-standard building materials.
Substandard building materials not only lead to collapsed structures but also structural deformation within a short period of time such as cracked walls, leaking roofs and susceptibility to flooding. The collapse of Pastor T.B. Joshua’s church in Lagos last year, and Reigners Bible Church International Uyo, two weeks ago are cases in point.
These tragedies are as a result of the failure to enforce the relevant laws that regulate the building and construction industry. No doubt, contractors are in a hurry to cut corners and so deliberately neglect the architectural specifications for erecting of structures.
Building experts blame building collapse on use of low quality building materials coupled with employment of incompetent artisans and contractors and weak supervision of workmen on site. They are also traceable to non-compliance with specifications and standards.
We therefore call on government to embark on proactive steps by allowing the town planning authorities to perform their functions unfettered and to strengthen the existing agencies. It should also come up with new agencies that will approve architectural design and monitor standards of structures. Let there be building regulation across the board to ensure this kind of disaster doesn’t happen again.