The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has tasked Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the North Eastern part of the country to take advantage of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria’s (SON’s) recently commissioned laboratory to test their products.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yalwaji Katagum said at the commissioning of SON’s North East Regional/ Bauchi State Office and Laboratory Complex in Bauchi, expressed optimism that with the complex, MSMEs from the North East Zone, would in the immediate future attain high position in the ranking of MSME’S in Nigeria, urging SON to expedite the process for the accreditation of the laboratories to the relevant standards for entities to patronise the facility while also getting value for their money.
Indeed, MSMEs are veritable platforms for achieving economic growth, hence their products must meet the minimum requirements of the Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS) especially at a time when the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is nearing full take off.
She however, implored the Governor of Bauchi State to engage with SON for proper certification of its facilities in order to assure both local and international tourists that the laboratory is fit for purpose.
Earlier, the Director General and Chief Executive, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, gave reasons for citing the agency’s North-East Regional Office and Laboratory Complex in Bauchi State.
According to him, as part of a well conceived plan, SON has completed and put into use complexes of this nature in Akwa Ibom, Ekiti , The Federal Capital Territory and Kwara States even as similar projects in Kogi and Delta States are on going.
The Minister added that the strategic decision to embark on these projects is to meet the testing needs of medium, small and micro enterprises across the country.
Ambassador Katagum pointed out that the previous practice of shipping all samples to Lagos for testing was expensive and unsustainable especially for perishable items.
“Often, samples get destroyed before they reach the laboratories, when the intended tests were indeed not destructive tests,” she said.
She added that the complex would house laboratories mostly in food technology, saying that the move is understandable as the North East and in particular Bauchi State are strong in agriculture and livestock.
“In Bauchi State, we had in the past, a meat processing company that processed our abundant herds of livestock. Though the company no longer exist , meat processing has continued here, with the popular Bauchi
“danbun nama” found every where in Nigeria. In Taraba State, the Mambila Highland Tea is a household name while in Adamawa State , products from Sebore Farm of Admiral Murtala Nyako commonly called ‘Baba mai mangoro’ have continued to receive market acceptance,” she said.
“Let me at this point direct SON to repurpose this laboratory complex to provide for an oil and gas laboratory on account of the successful drilling of crude oil at the Kolmani Intergrated Oil Field straddling Gombe and Bauchi States. The Laboratory would provide value addition to the industries to emerge from the Oil Field,” she urged.
She said her Ministry is well aware that there is abundant market for Nigeria’s products especially in markets with ethical consumers, saying that these markets include the Halal market which is estimated at $2.3 trillion .
Her words: “This is a market that Nigeria cannot continue to ignore, hence the decision of my Ministry to collaborate with SON in establishing the necessary procedures for the establishment of an internationally recognised Halal certification in Nigeria. I am excited to note that SON has acquired the necessary competence in this field with the training of its personnel as qualified auditors.”
“In addition, the organisation was recently admitted as a member of the Standards and Metrology Institute of Islamic Countries responsible for regulating Halal certification. Let me use this opportunity to assure SON of the support of the Federal Government for an early completion of the Halal Institute in Kano,” she assured.
Speaking further, the Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, said the choice of Bauchi was informed by the excellent disposition of its people who are great entrepreneurs in diverse aspects of commerce and industry.
He said it was also designed to meet the needs of the MSME’s major drivers for the economic development of the country.
“Indeed, our application for this land was treated with utmost dispatch.
Your Excellency, please accept our immense gratitude for the professional manner your officials handled our application,” he said.
According to him:
“When the strategic decision was made to establish this laboratory and others, in some states and the FCT, Abuja, the major factor that weigh heavily was the need to improve the turnaround time for the delivery of our laboratory services, thereby protecting the integrity of our testing systems.
The choice of Bauchi for the North East Regional Office was quite simple and straightforward. The state is well known for the excellent disposition of its people who are great entrepreneurs in diverse aspects of commerce and industry.”
“But more importantly, Bauchi was the first state in the North East to offer us land large enough for our purpose. Indeed, our application for this land was treated with utmost dispatch,” he said.
The SON boss noted that the edifice commissioned comprises laboratories on the ground floor and 18 offices on the first and second floor in addition to a large conference room, maintaining that the offices would house the North East Regional Office of the organisation as well as its Bauchi State office while the laboratory would house a food chemistry and engineering laboratory
“The Food Chemistry laboratory would focus on food related products including the very popular ‘Bauchi Masa’ and ‘Danbun Nama”, while the engineering laboratory is dedicated for products in the built industry serving both large entity such as Lafarge Cement Company in nearby Gombe State and thousands of block moulders in this state and across the North East,” he said.
Mallam Salim further said:
“The laboratories in this complex are deliberately designed to meet the needs of MSMEs who are major drivers of the economic development of our country. The construction of this facility is therefore, part of the holistic plan of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria to reduce cost of business for MSME’s in the North East, thereby contributing to the Federal Government policy of ease of doing business.”
He further stated that testing is a critical component of conformity assessment programme of SON, which in turn is one of the pillars of national quality infrastructure of the country.
“Let me at this point assure you of our resolve to secure accreditation for the laboratories in this complex before the end of my tenure,” Mallam Salim said.