The World Consumers Rights day was recently celebrated globally with regulators across the marketing communications industry, telecom, manufacturing, standards, foods and drugs industries pointing to poverty, weak regulations and failure of consumers to pursue their case as some of the challenges facing regulators to protect rights of Nigerian consumers.
At a recent colloquium organised at the instance of Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria, BJAN, the lead speaker, Director-General of Consumers Protection Council, Mr. Emmanuel Amlai, represented by Legal Advisor/Board Secretary of CPC, Mr. Emmanuel Ataguba, said that it is no longer news that consumers in Nigeria are repeatedly sold fake or sub-standard products and such scenario has constituted problems for consumers, manufacturers and the government.
Amlai said some of the problems that militate against the regulators when seeking redress for violation of consumers right is the level of poverty which often force consumers to patronize substandard products and services.
“Let’s consider access to basic essential goods and services, more than 85 percent of our population does not have adequate food, clothing and shelter. Our health care system is deplorable. Education, public utilities, water and sanitation are also in deplorable state.
Consider the right to choice and the ability to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality. Nigeria does not have a competition law and policy, hence, consumer’s right of choice therefore is greatly limited,” he said.
Also, the Director General of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Joseph Odumodu, who was represented by Louis Njoku, Director-Laboratory Services highlighted the challenges it faces in ensuring that Nigerian consumers’ are protected from unscrupulous importers and exporters. He said most Nigerian consumers shy away from reporting cases of manufacturers who are producing illegal and fake products.
He said, “Most Nigerian consumers don’t report to appropriate authority. Government agencies are not spirit. But they only act on complaints. Consumers are part of the ecosystem. Consumers patronize fake products and shield producers perhaps because they are family.” He said SON has put in place a system that addresses consumer complaints and you get redress within one week but he added that failure of the consumers to make complaints often render the agency helpless.
He cited cases of fraudulent labeling which most consumers fail to read and confirm the authenticity before buying most products especially imported electronics.
“Some generators are produced with 100kva whereas they are labeled 240kva. How many consumers read label of products. A lot of work has to be done by consumers. The government agencies have done a lot but consumers are not complaining,” he said.