Nigerian government has demonstrated determination to ensure consumers’ rights are protected by setting up relevant laws and agencies. But stakeholders who are concerned with consumers’ right last weekend in Lagos blamed the Nigerian consumers and the regulatory agencies for the violation of the consumer rights.
The stakeholders, who spoke at special colloquium on consumer right organised by Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN) in Lagos who were disappointed that consumer right was the most violated in Nigeria, agreed that the consumers were partly responsible for their right violation.
While consumers were blamed for their lethargy in reporting cases of violation or taking action, consumer rights’ agencies were held responsible for not promoting and creating enough education on consumer rights.
Leading the discussion, Emmanuel Amlai, director-general, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), who was represented by his legal adviser, Emmanuel Ataguba, said “there is general unwillingness by consumers to report consumer right infraction or take action against product or service provider.”
The complacency of the consumer to take action could be due to ignorance of the consumer on his/her right, Amlai said, noting that “the consumer is sometimes apathetic instead of seeking redress.”
When a consumer right is violated, it is a challenge to both the consumer and the manufacturer of the product, he said.
On the way forward, he suggested improved regulation, education of the public by regulatory agencies, compensation, making it impossible to sell substandard product in Nigeria and making it feasible to return substandard products.
Lewis Njoku, who represented Joseph Odumodu, director-general, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), also noted that consumers hardly complain to the regulatory authorities about violation of their right. “Government agencies depend on information from the public to work effectively,” he said, saying that SON in partnership with CPC had established a consumer desk but regretted that “the office does not receive complaints from the public.”
Njoku, who asserts that consumers are complacent on violation of their rights, defended SON’s action of going to warehouses to fish out substandard products, explaining that “sometimes after ships leave their destination from abroad, what is finally shipped to Nigeria is another thing.”
Kola Oyeyemi, president, Advertisers Association of Nigeria, said “there is what he called ‘corporate culpability’ as ‘all of us are guilty’ on consumer right violation.’ For substandard products, somebody imported or manufactured it, somebody inspected and cleared it from ports, approved it for distribution.”
He blamed the regulatory agencies on their failure to educate Nigerians on the eight consumer rights, recognising that there was need to educate Nigerians. Oyeyemi warned corporate organisations that with the emergence of social media, brands may receive embarrassment on production of substandard products, “by that time they will know that it is responsible to be responsible.”
Also speaking, Lolu Akinwunmi, chairman, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, advised the regulatory agencies to intensify their regulatory functions and involve a collaborative effort in the task of protecting consumer right.
The eight consumer rights include the right to satisfaction of basic needs: access to basic goods and services necessary for survival, the right to safety, the right to information, the right to choose, the right to redress, the right to consumer education, the right to consumer representation: Advocacy of consumers’ interest and the ability to take part in the formulation of economic and other policies affecting consumers and the Right to a Healthy Environment.
At the venue, the new BJAN executive led by Goddie Ofose of Daily Independent Newspaper, who took over from Neta Nwosu as president, was inaugurated.
Media Business Editor