The determination of government to police the market in order to protect consumers must be actively supported by consumers in order to achieve maximum success, the Director General/Chief Executive of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Babatude Irukera has said, adding that the importance of consumer-participation cannot be over emphasized.
The Director General made the point when he featured in Frontiers, an International Broadcast Service of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) recently.
It is pertinent to note that before his appointment as Director General of the CPC, Irukera earned eminence for his outstanding advocacy via litigations, by which he argued cases in defense of consumers.
While he disclosed that the capacity of government to police market forces in the interest of consumer-protection is not absolute, the Director General expressed concern over the ignorance of consumers, and called for behavioral change.
“It is wrong to believe that consumer-protection and its enforcement should be carried out by government alone,” he said, lamenting that market and industries have taken advantage of this notion at the expense of consumers.
While calling for the establishment of an effective infrastructure for receiving consumer complaints, the Director General observed that the mechanism is necessary in order to ensure that aggrieved consumers are duly compensated while erring businesses face the penalty.
“We will get the businesses and ensure that they are accountable for resolving complaints, and ensure that platforms are created so that providers receive complaints arising from use of products irrespective of the location of the consumers,” he said.
While saying that product manufacturers must provide consumers with effective platforms for lodging complaints arising from use of products, Irukera explained that the right of consumers must be exercisable irrespective of location of the consumer provided that the product is used in the location: “It doesn’t make sense for you to produce a product used in villages when complaints from the villages cannot reach the product manufacturer,” he said.
Irukera who has had over two decades of fulfilling legal practice in Nigeria and the United States said: “There must be platforms for harvest of complaints arising from wherever services or products are consumed. And the cost of making complaints must be borne by the businesses or product manufacturers,” he added.
He reiterated that it is wrong to suppose that consumer satisfaction, and the enforcement of same is solely the role of government, adding that product manufacturers and industries have taken advantage of the notion at the expense of consumers.
“Government needs to get service providers and goods manufacturers to know that they have a contract to protect consumers, to satisfy consumers, and when consumers are dissatisfied, product manufactures or service providers must provide remedies” he added.