The Director General of the Consumer Protection Council, Mrs. Dupe Atoki on Wednesday evening disclosed that the current reduction in the flagrant display of impunity by businesses and multinationals in the country is largely due to the effective use of the Council’s enabling legislation.
The Council’s Director General made the disclosure at the mentorship and business development programme of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, where she was also conferred with the Guiding Light Award by the association in recognition of her selfless and professional service to the nation.
Mrs. Atoki told the audience at the event that the pace of progress so far recorded by the Council in reducing the level of consumer abuse and in curbing the excesses of multinationals in their interactions with consumers in the country is attributable to the use of the prosecutory powers of the Council’s Act.
In addition, she disclosed that the adoption of sectoral intervention by her administration in addressing consumer abuses has had widespread positive effects in the sectors so far investigated by the Council.
The director general while unveiling the sectors under the Council’s investigation as part of its strategy at curtailing consumer abuses in the country, disclosed that the Council’s investigation was on-going in the banking, hospitality, electricity and aviation sectors, and that those of food and beverage as well as satellite television sectors had been successfully undertaken.
She further hinted that “interventions in other problematic sectors will also be undertaken as we progress in order to alleviate the suffering of consumers”, stating that the strategy became inevitable in view of the widespread consumer abuses in the country.
According to her, “in view of the myriads of consumer complaints in various sectors, it became apparent that the resolution of individual complaints alone will not make the desired impact”, pointing out that “sectoral intervention was identified as a major strategy for arresting systemic irregularities and modifying the behaviour of firms for faster and widespread resolution of consumer complaints”.
The Council’s director general noted with satisfaction that the agency’s “interventions in the food and beverage and satellite television sectors have drastically reduced the quantum of complaints in those sectors and conferred some benefits on consumers”.
Mrs. Atoki asserted that some of the challenges facing the agency, prior to her assumption of office, such as low level of consumer awareness; consumer apathy; impunity of businesses; brick walling by sector regulators; and protection of self interest by trade association, were already being addressed by the Council’s strategic plan.
She stated: “The committed execution of the strategic initiatives carried out by the Council under the current administration has awakened, to a great extent, the consciousness of Nigerian consumers, who are now more assertive and are thereby beating businesses to a retreat from their erstwhile practice of shortchanging consumers. Consumers’ confidence in the market and the ability of the Council to provide redress to their complaints has also been bolstered.
“Businesses are now compelled to comply with consumer regulations and are beginning to come to terms with the powers of the Council to protect consumers. The culture of business impunity is, therefore, beginning to diminish”, the CPC boss further asserted, adding that “it is our hope that in the nearest future, consumers will actually be kings/queens in the marketplace in Nigeria”.
The director general also stated that the support sought and received from international donors by the Council’s current administration to confront its acute financial challenge in executing its programmes, such as consumer education, in the fulfillment of its mandate was a product of innovative thinking.
Also speaking at the event, the NBA Chairman, Abuja Chapter, Mr. Agada Elachi promised the association’s support to CPC to enable the Council realizes its objectives.
Elachi also stressed the need for legal practitioners to develop interest in protecting the rights of consumers.