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Economy

SON seeks jail term for importers, smugglers of fake , substandard products.

The eyewitness reporter
The Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) has initiated a move to prosecute and jail importers and smugglers who profiteer in fake and substandard products.
According to the immediate past Director General, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk Salim, the action will serve as a deterrent to what he called illicit activities and also protect the indigenous manufacturers and the Nigerian economy.
He said that the agency is committed to defending and protecting indigenous companies and the Nigerian public from economic sabotage.
Speaking with journalists at the destruction site of some seized items in Lagos Thursday, October 12th, 2021, Salim stated that the seized items which include electrical cables, aluminum sheets, motor tyres and motor oil were fake and their quality had been compromised and if used could lead to loss of lives and properties.
He stressed that while the agency is keen on ensuring local industries thrive by providing standards in tandem with best practices across the world,  he lamented that smugglers and imposters work to subvert the process by importing expired and substandard products and erroneously copying established Indigenous brands.
“This is affecting our economy, especially with our government policy on homegrown economy.
“We have to make sure our successful homegrown economy is protected. All these products you are seeing here are a danger to the society.
“That is why we are destroying them. We want to make sure nobody else uses these products.
“Our Nigerian lubricant manufacturers, when successful, unfortunately, have to contend with individuals trying to copy them.
” Nobody copies a product that is not successful. So, the product you are seeing behind does not belong to that popular company.
” It’s somebody trying to fake their product and we took the person to court, he was convicted and then the court gave us permission to confiscate these products and destroy them.
“The same thing with the cables. Our cable industry is one of the most successful industries in Nigeria.
” And like I said, success breeds copying. The only problem is this copying is bad copying.
” All our Nigerian-based cable industries know that people are copying their products.
”The Cable Manufacturing Association of Nigeria keeps a vigilant eye on these fake people. Sometimes they inform us about them, sometimes our intelligence as a group finds those people before even the companies report them.”
The erstwhile SON DG  explained that many cases of motor accidents and house fires are caused by substandard tyres and cable which are smuggled into the economy.
Salim said that the agency will continue to clamp down on smugglers and fake producers of products to ensure a robustly improved standard across all sections of the economy.
He further reiterated that the agency would employ transparency to ensure that it gains public trust and cooperation.
“Sometimes,when we confiscate items, the owners will go to court because they will not let us have permission to destroy them.
” And because of that, some of these items have been sitting here for a while. And once in a while, when everything is done and we have permission from the courts, we have to come here and we invite the owners to come and witness too.
” Because we don’t want them to think we are confiscating their goods and then selling it to somebody else.”
He also added that the agency is looking to receive the necessary approval to prosecute and sentence offenders in this regard to serve as a deterrent to other Nigerians who may be looking to venture into this evil trade.
“We went to the National Assembly to review our act to make sure peddlers of life-threatening materials are actually jailed and not just fined.”
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Economy

News Alert! CBN revokes operational licenses of 4,173 Bureau De Change operators for breach of regulatory guidelines

CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso

The Eyewitness Reporter

In its continuous efforts to sanitize the foreign exchange market and halt the frightening slide of the naira in exchange for the dollars, the Central Bank of Nigeria has revoked the operational licenses of 1,173 Bureau De Change operators.

In a press release issued Friday, March 1st, 2024 and signed by Mrs. Sidi Ali Hakama, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, the apex bank said the axed BDCs failed to observe at least one of the following regulatory provisions which include payment of all necessary fees, including license renewal within the stipulated period in line with the Guidelines, rendition of returns in line with the Guidelines, compliance with guideline, directives and circulars of the CBN, particularly Anti-Money Laundering(AML), countering the Financing of Terrorism(CFT)and Counter-Proliferation Financing(CPF) regulations.

The apex bank said it relied on the powers conferred on it under the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act(BOFIA)2020, Act n0.5 and Revised Operational Guidelines for Bureaux De Change 2015(the Guidelines).

“The CBN is revising the regulatory and supervisory guidelines for Bureau de Change operations in Nigeria. Compliance with the new requirements will be mandatory for all stakeholders in the sector when the revised guidelines become effective.

‘Members of the Public are hereby advised to take note and be guided accordingly”, the statement concluded.

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Economy

Anxiety in public service over massive job loss as Tinubu set to implement Steve Oronsaye panel on civil service reform

The Eyewitness reporter
There is palpable tension among the public service workers as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has approved the full implementation of Steve Oronsaye’s public service reform.
Their anxiety stems from massive job loss that will result from the implementation of the recommendations of the report which seeks the scrapping, subsuming and merging of some Ministries, Departments, and the Agencies of government whose functions are overlapping.
The report also seeks to enhance efficiency in the Federal civil service and reduce the cost of governance.
The Oronsaye report was submitted in 2012 to the Jonathan administration.

In 2014, the Jonathan government released a white paper on the report. The Buhari administration after re-examining the white paper also released a second white paper in August 2022, but did not implement the report.

According to Bayo Onanuga,Special Adviser Information and Strategy to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the  Tinubu administration has decided to confront the monster of high governance cost by implementing elements of the report.

According to him, an eight-man committee has a 12-week deadline to ensure that the necessary legislative amendments and administrative restructuring needed to implement the reforms are effected efficiently.The committee comprises the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil Service, Attorney General and Justice Minister, Budget and Planning Minister, DG Bureau of Public Service Reform, Special Adviser to the President on Policy Coordination, Special assistant to the president on National Assembly. The Cabinet Affairs Office will serve as the secretariat.

Some of the key recommendations of the report for implementation include the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission to be subsumed under the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission.

The National Assembly will need to amend the constitution as RMAFC was established by the constitution.
Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission to be merged with Bureau of Public Enterprise and be rechristened as `Public Enterprises and Infrastructural Concession CommissionNational Human Rights Commission to swallow Public Complaints Commission

The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate(PTAD) is to be scrapped and functions to be taken over by the Federal Ministry of Finance

NEMA and National Commission for Refugees to be fused to become the National Emergency and Refugee Management Commission

Border Communities Development Agency to become a department under National Boundary Commission

NACA and NCDC to be merged

SERVICOM to become a department under the Bureau for Public Service Reform(BPSR)

NALDA to return to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

Federal Ministry of Science to supervise a new agency that combines NCAM, NASENI and PRODA

National Commission for Museums and Monuments and National Gallery of Arts to become one entity that will be known as the National Commission for Museums, Monuments and Gallery of Arts.

National Theatre to be merged with National Troupe.

Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa and Directorate of Technical Aid Corp to be merged under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 Nigerians in Diaspora Commission to become an agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Federal Radio Corporation and Voice of Nigeria to be one entity to be known as Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria

National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA) and National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology to be emerged into an agency to be known as National Biotechnology Research and Development Agency(NBRDA).

National Institute for Leather Science Technology and National Institute for Chemical Technology to become one agency.

 Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development to become one agency.

The National Metallurgical Development Centre and National Metallurgical Training Institute will be merged.

National Institute for Trypanosomiasis to be subsumed under the Institute of Veterinary Research in Vom, Jos.

The list is inexhaustive.
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Business

“You lied” – FG lambasts cement manufacturers over hike in product price

Ahmed Dangiwa
The Eyewitness reporter 
The Federal Government has picked holes in the reasons proffered by the cement manufacturers for the sudden jump in the price of the product.
It could be recalled that a few days ago, cement recorded an astronomical increase in price as the 50kg of the essential building materials climbed from  N5000 to between N10,000 to N15,000, depending on the location in the country.
Concerned by the sudden hike, which has elicited uproar among already depressed Nigerians, the Federal government summoned the major cement manufacturers and other merchants of building materials in the country such as Dangote Cement, BUA and Lafarge, to an emergency meeting.
Addressing the manufacturers at the meeting, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa, dismissed the reasons given by the cement manufacturers, describing them as untenable.
Whereas the manufacturers blamed the cost of gas and mining equipment for the hike, Dangiwa said key input materials for cement production such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum, sourced within the nation’s borders, should not be dollar-rated.
He said the price of gas that manufacturers are using as an excuse was not tenable because gas is a raw material found within the country.

The minister further declared that the excuse of an increase in mining equipment should not come up because equipment bought by the manufacturers has been used for decades and not purchased every day.

He however threatened that the federal government may be forced to throw open the borders and allow importation of cement to flood the Nigerian market in a bid to crash the prices of the community should the manufacturers refuse to reduce their prices.
He warned that the cement manufacturers should not push the government into taking this decision which he believed would push them out of business.
The minister said the border was closed to the importation of cement to help local manufacturers.

However, he noted that if the government decides to open the border for mass importation, prices of cement would crash and local manufacturers would be gravely affected.

The minister, who called on the manufacturers to be more patriotic, said BUA Cement, for instance, has been willing and is still willing as at the last time he spoke with them, to crash the price of their cement, lower than the N7000, N8000 agreed by the manufacturers and he sees no reason why the others should not do same.

“The challenges you speak of, many countries are facing the same challenges and some even worse than that but as patriotic citizens, we have to rally around whenever there is a crisis to change the situation.

“The gas price you spoke of, we know that we produce gas in the country. The only thing you can say is that maybe it is not enough.

“Even if you say about 50 percent of your production cost is spent on gas prices, we still produce gas in Nigeria. It’s just that some of the manufacturers take advantage of the situation.

“As for the mining equipment that you mentioned, you buy equipment and it takes years and you are still using it,” he said.

Earlier, Group Chief Commercial Officer of Dangote Cement, Rabiu Umar blamed the high cost of gas and mining equipment for the hike in cement price.

He said: “It is safe to say we are all Nigerians and we are all facing the current head weight that is happening.  I would like to speak on the popular belief that most of the raw materials to produce cement are available locally.

“While we have limestone and in some cases, we have gypsum and some cases coal, the reality is that it takes a lot of forex-related items to produce cement.

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