By OnogwuIsah Muhammed
Over the weekend, I used three different samples of wire cables to conduct an experiment after the loss of my electric pressing iron and a socket. My electric socket (Royal Quest England) of 220-240V was used to connect my pressing iron of equal voltage, 220-240V. Instantly, the cable blew and damaged the socket. I bought another socket of the same capacity but this time with electric iron of low capacity. This time, the cable rather than blow off simply melted like a candle which showed that the supposed 220-240V socket is not up to 120V.
Apart from wiring cables, most electric bulbs in our market today are also fake. I live in an area where electricity supply is intermittent but I change my electric bulbs after every five weeks. While two of the six bulbs I bought seven months ago are still working, I have been changing the remaining four routinely. I bought them from the same place, at the same amount and the seller confirmed to me that they are the best bulbs I can get from the market now.
Three days ago, a cousin of mine lost his home to inferno which emanated from an electric bulb socket. Such tragedies are not rampant in the country only because of irregular supply of electricity.
Apart from wiring cables and bulbs, a good number of the stabilizers, Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), air conditioner, switches, electric cooking stove, pressing iron and many other electrical materials being sold in the market today are fake.
The same is no less true of auto spare parts in the Nigerian market and building materials. As for the tragic incident at the Synagogue Guest House where over 80 persons were reported killed, I would not put the tragic situation beyond the use of fake or substandard materials.
It is estimated that Nigeria loses over ₦50 billion to fake and substandard products annually and out of this amount, ₦20 billion comes from auto spare parts sector alone. Research has shown that 60 per cent of these fake products come from the Peoples Republic of China but the Chinese in turn blame the situation on Nigerian entrepreneurs who go to China and ask the manufacturers to produce for them at reduced quality in order to shore up their profit margins.
Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) whose job is to rid Nigeria free of fake and adulterated products appear to have surrendered to the cartel of fake products importers, unfortunately for an agency that has been around for 42 years. SON, with only two laboratories in Lagos and Enugu where products could be subjected to laboratory analysis, has proven that they lack capacity to effectively check the menace. In many instances, product samples are said to be taken to Ghana for laboratory analysis. Apart from this technical incapacitation, SON lacks laboratory analysts and chemists as its workforce is dominated by clerical cadre.
One recalls with nostalgia the days of National Agency for Food and drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) under the leadership of late Prof Dora Akunyili. The activities of the agency were practical, result-oriented and purposeful. These were the times when you saw hawkers run helter-skelter at the sight of NAFDAC officials. Today, NAFDAC activities are only showed on paid TV adverts and newspapers.
No matter any indices used, an economy where more than 80 per cent of products in circulation are fake cannot make progress. The situation is biting hard on ordinary Nigerians whose small incomes are spent on products that do not last beyond second use. One begins to wonder if Nigeria has become a permanent safe haven for counterfeit products as the activities of the manufacturers and dealers of fake products go unchecked.
OnogwuIsah Muhammed is based in Lokoja, Kogi State
Source: The Nation