The activities of CPC in focus -By Edwin Uhara

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The activities of CPC in focus -By Edwin Uhara

 

One of the parastatals of the Federal Government whose activity is currently drawing public attention as a result of performance is the Consumer Protection Council (CPC). Though, this body has been in operation since 1999, but, Nigerians have not been feeling it’s impacts satisfactorily until the new management team led by its Director-General, Mrs. Dupe Atoki came on board.

Before the latest development, Nigerian consumers were left at the mercy of the various service providers in the country; from the banking sector to telecommunication as well as the industrial or manufacturing sectors.

For example, some banks were making illegal deductions from the accounts of some depositors; hazardous products flooded the market at ease, while telecommunication companies where delivering poor services, poor internet services and unabating network failures without regards to consumers.

Some of them also indulged in wrong billing systems where their electronic devices make unlawful deductions from the accounts of their customers, as well as unauthorized SIM swaps, line disconnections, unsolicited and other exploitative services they render to Nigerians. While consumers groan, service providers smile to the banks! This is not to talk of the selective provision of 3.5G network they provide to internet users. What this means is that, by the virtue of not been in certain areas covered by the 3.5G network, some Nigerian consumers would be denied access to internet services. For example, if I’m using a 3.5G modem in an area not covered by 3.5G network, my laptop cannot browse except I relocate to 3.5G network area.

However, there was a time a former Nigerian Senator who was on the post-paid service of one of the network service providers had an issue with the company over wrong billing system and the amount he was asked to pay to the said company for the services he allegedly used.

This is not to highlight the hallowing experiences, customers on the pre-paid service are subjected to every day. The worst is when you call the customer care unit of those service companies to complain, it sometimes takes a whole day or even a week before they pick their calls; and when they finally pick, they would be very helpless as a result of the gravity of concerns that would be raised by Nigerians because, the people at the desk are just employees of the service providers who cannot go against the policy of some of the companies they work for. But then, relief came the way of our consumers when the current management team, especially the Consumer Education Department led by Alhaji Aminu Kawu came on board.

Hence, in compliance with the council’s mandate of 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, as well as organizing and undertaking campaigns and other forms of activities that will lead to increase public consumer awareness, the new leadership of the council has staged different awareness campaigns aimed at sensitizing Nigerian consumers of their rights. For example, there is a CPC programme running on the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), educating Nigerians of their rights. Also, the council recently organized a road show in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where several Nigerian artists including Charles Oputa A.K.A Charley Boy featured prominently! The activities of the council also run on the information super high way, the internet cum some print and electronic media. Also, while keeping faith with other functions of the council, which is proving speedy redress to consumers complaints through negotiation, mediation and conciliation, the new leadership of the hitherto dormant Consumer Protection Council (CPC), led by Mrs. Dupe Atoki in the month of march this year summoned the Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s) of the various telecommunication companies in the country over poor and abysmal services they have been rendering to Nigerian consumers. At the meeting, Mrs. Atoki decried the poor services and some unlawful deductions as well as other shoddy deals the companies indulge in, to short-change Nigerians, saying “Whatever challenges the operators are facing, consumers must get value for their money.

CPC was aware of some challenges of doing business which the government was currently addressing; such challenges would not serve as genuine excuses for operators to short-change consumers.” She went further to state that: “We are aware of the punitive measures by the NCC (Nigerian Communication Commission) on telecoms operators, but, these fines don’t translate in to consumer redress or protection, that is why we need to agree on how the barrage of complaints from consumers are redressed”.

It is also in line with these objectives that the council confronted the Nigerian Bottling Company and Coca Cola over some below standards performances witnessed. According to Mrs. Atoki, “In the exercise of the mandate of the Council, following complaints of defective products of Coca Cola bottled by the Nigeria Bottling Company, the CPC investigated one of such complaints in respect of two half-filled cans of sprite and substantiated the allegation of product defect and violation of CPC Act, based on which several recommendations were made “and orders thereto issued to Coca Cola.

”The orders are that: the two companies subject their manufacturing process to the Council over a period of 12 months, formulate a shelf life policy to facilitate removal of their expired products from the market, review their traceability policy to make it easier for the companies to track their products and payment of cost of investigation and compensation to the aggrieved party.

Nonetheless, looking at the pedigree of the current Director-General of the Council (CPC), one will come to terms with the fact that, her performance is been propelled by rich experience gained from the previous posts and positions held!

 

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