A renewed worry among stakeholders over the continuous existence and influx of fake products into the Nigerian market in the face of multiple regulatory agencies has developed. Those who expressed concern over this phenomenon in the recent time said the degree of the problem is annoying to the extent that it is difficult sometimes by consumers to separate fake from original products.
They said the preponderance of adulterated products in almost all products sold in Nigeria is disturbing. From petroleum products to cosmetics, ICT products, building materials spare parts, computers, insecticides, to clothes, electrical equipment, cooking ingredients, bottled water and more.
Speaking recently in Lagos, Keith Richards, the chairman of Promasidor, maker of Cowbell regretted the plethora of fake products in the Nigerian market. Nigerian Bottling Company’s Head, Public Relations and Communication, Uzor Odenigbo said fake is a big challenge in the Nigerian market and the business is thriving because “some people want and are eager to survive in an irresponsible way”
A social commentator, Arinze Okamelu said recently in a published article that “what is perhaps disturbing is the continuous influx of these fake products into the markets in the face of seeming hapless regulatory agencies despite their efforts”.
He said today, for almost all items in the market, you have original and fake products displayed side by side, mostly with impunity, and the consumers have to decide, depending on their choice and purse size. “Unfortunately so, the prevalence of these counterfeit products is one of the biggest challenges facing marketing and brands development in the country as the counterfeit “industry” continues to stifle creativity and entrepreneurial development. The tragedy remains however that there is hardly any product in the Nigerian market that is not either faked or its quality sub-standard when compared with the original, especially for every fast selling genuine product- they are either pirated or reproduced almost similar to the original without regards for standards and specifications”
But, according to the analysts, what is more worrisome is the high level existence of the fake product market even in the face NAFDAC, SON, Consumer Protection Council, CPC and other regulatory bodies in the country.
The director General of SON, Joseph Odumodu, who also recognized the surplus fake products in the market said in an interview monitored in Premium Times during the 2014 anti-counterfeit conference in Abuja last year that “over 40 per cent of goods in Nigeria are substandard and counterfeit, resulting in the death of scores of Nigerians, loss of over N100 billion to the nation’s economy, and millions of job losses, among other devastating effects, in the last 20 years”.
These disclosures and more are disturbing and needs a decisive action to reverse the trend, than just statements.
It is believed that the regulatory agencies perhaps need to step up their game in checkmating the menace in the system.
National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC formed to checkmate illicit and counterfeit products in Nigeria in 1993 is a Nigerian government agency under the Federal Ministry of Health that is responsible for regulating and controlling the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water.
Similarly, the fulcrum of standardisation and regulation of quality for all products is vested in the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the organization said in its website. “Established by Act No. 56 of 1971 and with three amendments in 1976, 1984 and 1990, SON as a corporate body has the sole responsibility for national policy on standards, standards specification, quality control and metrology, manufactured industrial and imported products and services”.
Also,according to its website, CPC’s main functions include providing speedy redress to consumers complaints through negotiation, mediation and conciliation; seeking ways and means of removing from the markets hazardous products and causing offenders to replace such products with safer and more appropriate alternatives; publishing from time to time list of products whose consumption and sale have been banned, withdrawn, severally restricted or not approved by the Federal Government.
Other functions of the protection council, a Parastatal of the Federal Government of Nigeria, supervised by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment include organising and undertaking campaigns and other forms of activities that will lead to increased public consumer awareness and encouraging trade, industry and professional associations to develop and enforce in their various fields, quality standards designed to safeguard the interest of consumers.