The Director-General of the Consumer Protection Council, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, is well known for her dedication to duty. She equally stands out as an embodiment of global ideas; ideas that have steered the ship of the CPC to an enviable height. Already, under her, the CPC has made giant strides, which have proved to Nigerians that it can both bark and bite.
In specific terms, the CPC under Atoki has waded into critical complaints by consumers against producers or suppliers, and has in the same vein, adopted the strategy of criminal prosecution of recalcitrant businesses or litigation to achieve satisfactory redress. Where men could have been scared to bark, The Point’s Jewel for the week had gone ahead to actually bite.
In less than two years of being at the helm of affairs of the CPC, Atoki has made concerted efforts to ensure that the Council’s impact is felt across critical sectors of the economy, which hitherto were replete with consumer abuses. Consequently, there has been a considerable reduction in consumer abuses by business operators as well as modest improvement in consumer satisfaction with respect to all products and services in Nigeria.
According to experts, the unprecedented bold move of the Council against a multinational in Nigeria on a consumer protection case, drew the admiration of Nigerian consumers whilst also putting other businesses on their toes. It is wide knowledge that, pursuant to series of consumers’ complaints, the CPC had carried out investigations and initiated the prosecution of leading food and beverage companies in Nigeria.
These were, hitherto regarded as ‘untouchables.’ The interesting thing is that, unlike in the past, when matters like these were only regarded as lip talk, the CPC pursued the fight to a logical conclusion and set the foundation for sanity in the sector and even among other multinationals. The objective, according to the DG, is to ensure that only high quality products that comply with international best practices are allowed in the Nigerian markets.
The Council’s efforts at sanitising the aviation sector, under Atoki’s watch, has also increased compliance by both local and international companies to best practices, even though Nigeria still has a long way to go in the area of customer satisfaction. The CPC had earlier ordered a leading domestic airline to pay a total sum of N41,000 to its passengers, following an investigation, which revealed that the airline was culpable of violating passengers’ rights contrary to the CPC’s Act and NCAA’s Passengers’ Bill of Rights Regulation.
Not too long ago, the CPC, in line with one of its mandates to provide redress for consumer abuse, commenced investigations into the operations of the Digital Satellite Television, based on a barrage of complaints of alleged consumer rights violations against the company. And in an effort to checkmate an apparent obstruction of the ongoing investigations, officers of the Council stormed the Lagos office of the paymedia outfit to carry out an enforcement exercise, in line with relevant sections of the Council’s enabling law.
The CPC had said in a statement that the enforcement exercise was carried out to ensure that the investigations reached a desirable conclusion. That exercise, even though reportedly resisted to a large extent by DStv, drew the admiration of consumers, who confirmed that they had never been this protected in the history of the Council. However, these cases are just some of the many critical cases, across all sectors, including the banking sector, which the CPC has tackled to a desirable end.
“I want to assure Nigerian consumers of the Council’s commitment to ensuring that consumers get value for money. I must reiterate that consumers’ interest is of utmost importance to the Council; hence we will continue to intervene in all sectors where consumers are denied value