The Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, says the laboratories in its newly established North East Regional Office in Bauchi, Bauchi State, were deliberately designed to grow Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which are major drivers of the country’s economy, in the region.
The Director General and Chief Executive of SON, Mallam Farouk A. Salim, made this known at the inauguration of the Laboratory Complex recently, saying the choice of Bauchi was strategic, as the “state is well known for the excellent disposition of its people who are great entrepreneurs in diverse aspects of commerce and industry.”
Salim further stated that Bauchi was the first state in the North East to avail SON land big enough for the building of the laboratory, while praising the governor of the state, Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, for how the application for the land was handled with quick dispatch.
According to the DG, ”the edifice comprises laboratories on the ground floor and 18 offices on the first and second floors, in addition to a large conference room.”
He said the laboratories are in Food Chemistry and Engineering. “The Food Chemistry Laboratory would focus on food-related products including the very popular Bauchi masa and danbun nama, while the Engineering is dedicated for products in the build industry serving both large entity such as Lafarge Cement company in nearby Gombe State and thousands of blocks molders in this State and across the North East,” he emphasised.
Alluding to the testing component of conformity assessment programme of the SON, one of the pillars of the national quality infrastructure, the helmsman assured all and sundry of the body’s resolve to secure accreditation for the laboratories in the complex before his tenure expires. He re-iterated that, apart from testing services, the SON has other services he would advise Bauchi State entities to patronise.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Y. Katagum, disclosed that “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. Similar projects in Kogi and Delta States are ongoing.”
She emphasised that the projects were a strategic decision to bring testing services to MSMEs towards meeting their needs, saying that “that the previous practice of shipping all samples to Lagos for testing was expensive and unsustainable, especially for perishable items.” Katagum listed some companies in the North East that produce edibles who will be beneficiaries of the Food Technology Laboratories in the complex.
The junior minister directed 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 Integrated Oil Field straddling Gombe and Bauchi States. The Laboratory would providevalue addition to the industries to emerge from the Oil Field.”
She enthused that her ministry was aware that an abundant market exists for products with ethical consumers, especially the Halal market. Katagum, declared: “The global Halal market is estimated at $2.3trn. This is a market 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 recognized Halal certification in Nigeria.” She assured of the federal government’s support for “an early completion of the Halal Institute in Kano.”
Katagum counselled all States in the North East to take advantage of ”the laboratory complex to improve the quality of the products of their medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs). She also urged SON to quicken action for” the accreditation of the Laboratories to the relevant standards so that entities that patronize the facility get value for their money.”
The minister concluded by noting that Bauchi State is the Pearl of Tourism, and should aggressively market itself as a tourist destination. She pointed to the Yankari Game Reserve, a large wild life park known for its diverse collection of rare animals that include hippopotamus, African buffalo, patas monkeys, African leopard, lions and waterbuck, saying that proper certification of the facilities will assure both local and international tourists that the services are fit for them.
Present at the occasion were the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Adulkadir Mohammed, some royal highnesses and senior government officials, among others.