Stamping out Substandard Products: A Fight by All and Sundry

By Ihuoma Joy O

In contemporary times, the human and material losses associated with the influx of fake products in the country are quite alarming.

This has resulted in the continuous expression of pain and discomfort by Nigerians. Thus, one among the many things killing Nigeria and Nigerians, which has become a bane to the progress of the country is substandard products.

According to some experts, 15billion is believed to be lost annually, directly causing loss of tax revenue to the government income, loss of local manufacturers and loss of jobs in the employment that would have otherwise been generated.

Sadly, these poor quality goods and products now litter the shops, and super markets; from electrical appliances to drugs, spare parts, wine, juice; body creams to mention a few. In the aspect of food, so many harmful foods have been innocently consumed by people which ended up causing havoc to their system.

Likewise, in the drug category, countless lives have been lost while a few others deformed. In reality, I have come to discover that for every original product in Nigeria, its fake alternative is readily available in the market.

These fake products continue to fill the country because society has lost touch with its values, in fact, to say it is morally bankrupt will suffice. Poverty has forced a lot of people to discard their values.

This is why a person will want to make quick money not minding whose ox is gored. On the other hand, high poverty rate and low standard of living remains one of the major causes as some cannot afford the original products.

Sequel to the above, another major reason why these products continue to journey comfortably into the country and further lounge, is the fact that most Nigerians always want to obtain cheap products.

They always want to pay less for a product. Most Nigerians like buying cheap things that is why fake products, most of which are detrimental to the development of the country, have continued to flood the markets. It further damages the reputation of the company and country where it is produced.

It is sad that some prefer short term gain as against long term reputation. Moreover, consuming and using these products is tantamount to playing with fire.

Regrettably, many people have bought an electronic product with a particular capacity which did not end up giving them what is written on it.

This is because many of those who deal in electronics buy products of lower capacity and use their own manufactured stickers to hide the capacity on products.

This has led to many cases of mis-understanding in the country’s market places between sellers and buyers because of inferior products sold to buyers, at almost the same price with the original. Several times, I have also been caught in the web.

I have bought counterfeit shoes at the same price as the original, having the logo of the original written boldly on it, but after some time, it begins to wear out. It still baffles me how the sellers of these products lure the buyers by claiming that the products are original; lying at will.

This shows the degraded extent to which our values have been reduced. On another occasion, I purchased a perfume with a particular brand name. However, the content was totally different from the original.

The perfume ended up causing me serious problems at the various parts where it was applied. Sadly, people often times, pick up the empty cans of the original in the waste bin, wash them and refill them with something else, not minding whether it would hurt the user.

Hence, we see the original can having a fake product inside, which would still go for the same price as the original. This makes the producers of the genuine products to suffer fewer sales.

Aside the fact that these fake products are smuggled into the country, the internet is also one medium that promotes sales of substandard goods and services. Online buying sometimes displays pictures of products that are not the same with the original.

Even more, some popular personal marketing websites have inadvertently turned into substandard goods destination. The major reason why substandard products are still in the Nigerian market is because penalties and fines for offenders are not consistent and regular.

Sometimes, there is collaboration by agents and representations of business organisation and merchants. Though, countless number of times, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has destroyed goods and products worth billions of Naira.

At other times, they have sternly warned citizens through the media against using such products. Truth is that if something is not done to check this trend, it would cause a serious harm to the country as it is a huge threat to the nation’s economy.

Aside that, so long as these products continue to get patronage in the market, it will be difficult to eradicate. This calls for the need for everyone to be proactive in this fight.

Therefore, to fight this negative trend, Nigeria should maintain a robust quality system where proper vetting of suppliers products by the officials of the SON.

To this end, the SON and the Customs Service should be empowered and encouraged to work hand in hand to discharge their duties accordingly.

We ought to get to that extent where products should be adequately monitored, tracing it to the retailer or agent who brought it into the country or a manufacturer from anywhere in the world.

Adequate provision should be made for patriotic officials at all borders- and sea to screen products coming into the country. The screening of imported products should be sternly upheld. Therefore, the officials at the borders should be held accountable when these products get into the country unhindered.

Again, it is clear that Nigerians as consumers are not adequately educated about their rights as well as the negative consequences of counterfeit products and how to identify them and report to the appropriate authorities.

Thus, for the citizens to join in this fight, every adult ought to be educated on this through various strategies. When this is done, they can team up with the government agencies to fight this menace.

Even more, prompt and thorough investigation of deviations and complaints should be carried out almost immediately. They should be able to trace products from its manufacture to its consumption by the consumer. Furthermore, setting ablaze, seized products should not only be the punishment.

There should be a more punitive measure and stiff penalties for companies who bring substandard products into the country. To this end, anyone caught selling substandard products should be treated as one who commit murder.

The collapse of the Nations textile industries was a clear case of substandard fabrics which flooded the domestic market and were sold at cheaper rates. Thus, in times like this, manufacturing would provide succor. Therefore, supporting indigenous manufacturers by the government is equally very germane.

As a Nation, we should be deliberate about eradicating this menace. Even though the country’s damaged reputation may be very hard to fade out, quality issues needs to be addressed and lived out by all and sundry.

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