The Director General of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera, has insisted that businesses in the country must be responsive to consumer grievances and must institutionalize and prioritize complaint resolution policies and mechanism, stressing that this is the hallmark of company and brand reputation.
Irukera noted that the current regime was unsustainable as it is tantamount to government subsidizing business, stating that the FCCPC should not substitute company customer care as a multi-company customer service desk.
Specifically, he opined that businesses have factored the cost of complaint resolution into their profitability and as such should not outsource it to the government, while underscoring the important role of the FCCPC in ensuring resolution that is fair and equitable.
The director general made the assertion while clamoring for a more collaborative relationship with the Civil Society, Consumer Protection Associations (CPAs), Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) at a round-table session organized by the Council in Abuja.
He argued that “companies have both commercial and social contracts with consumers. to companies, they customers, not consumers.
On the motive behind the round table forum, Irukera asserted that the Council seeks an effective partnership with the civil society for robust protection of consumers across our vast country.
According to him, “any credible and people-oriented leadership will embrace civil society and as such for me, an engagement with those in civil society is paramount”.
As part of the new engagement, the director general disclosed that the Council was implementing a more stringent registration process for CSOs, NGOs, CBOs and CPAs, explaining that the additional scrutiny is to ensure the integrity and credibility of both the Council and its partners.
Irukera, while fielding questions from reporters after addressing the session, said “the most important thing to achieve from here is to first of all, let the civil society generally know that we believe that the shared burden of consumer protection is something that we must continue to emphasise and highlight and to also create a network where we are exchanging and ideas and direction.” Also speaking at the event, the representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Professor Abimbola Uzomah observed that the work of consumer protection should not be left to the Council alone, emphasizing that it was the responsibility of every Nigerian consumer to entrench a virile consumer protection in Nigeria.
Uzomah, who said market-place abuse has become so prevalent in Nigeria because of consumer apathy, commended the Council for organising the strategic engagement with NGOs, CBOs and other relevant stakeholders with the aim of extending consumer education to the grassroots.