Medview Airlines Flight VL2108 operated by a Boeing 737 equipment with a flight schedule of Lagos-Abuja-Maiduguri (LOS-ABV-MIU) completed the Lagos to Abuja segment. At approximately 1400HRS while attempting to depart Abuja to Maiduguri on the final segment of the sector, the flight had a Ramp Return (return to base after commencing taxiing) on account of a safety issue.
Specifically, an indicator lamp signifying a minor disorder emerged. The Captain, exercising the appropriate abundance of caution and in compliance with applicable safety standards aborted the flight and returned to base for technical assistance.
All passengers disembarked in an orderly manner, returned to the lounge and were catered to by the airline in accordance with relevant Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations regarding treatment of passengers during delays. Engineers are currently concluding minor repairs so that the aircraft can become operational. The flight to Maiduguri is expected to operate shortly, either by same aircraft, or a redundancy/recovery plan that Medview has informed the Consumer Protection Council is in place.
CPC has been in communication with Medview, and the airline informs that, at no time was there an emergency, and passengers were never at risk. CPC will continue to monitor the situation, and provide updates, if necessary.
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has appraised the interaction between the nation’s electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) and their consumers, declaring that arbitrary billing and group disconnection of electricity consumers without consideration for those paying their bills constitute a gross abuse of consumer rights.
The Director General of the Council, Babatunde Irukera, said these in Abuja, at a meeting with the top management of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) led by its Managing Director, Engineer Ernest Mupwaya. The Director General noted that the vast majority of complaints in the sector are these two issues.
Irukera, while expressing understanding about challenges in the industry, said “there is no excuse for how consumers are treated”.
He pointed out that “the key complaints that we receive are arbitrary, unsupported and unreasonable billing; people not being treated with dignity, the complaint resolution process is either lacking or unclear and there’s really no respect for people”.
The director general disclosed that consumers’ complaints have not been primarily about supply, but about billing for non-existent supply, stressing that “as a matter of fact, a vast majority of supply complaints are attributed to the fact that you are asking them to pay for something that was not supplied and the other significant reason is group disconnection”.
According to him, “DISCOs have gotten to a point where no one takes their bills seriously anymore, because they are considered outrageous. I think the pressure on metering will not be so bad if the estimated billing was more transparent and reasonable”.
He noted with regret that “what DISCOs are doing is connecting their balance sheets to receivables from consumers, but consumers are connecting what they owe to what they receive”.
Irukera, while charging the distribution companies to stop the arbitrary billing system, asserted that “connecting balance sheet to an opaque arbitrary metering system is the worst form of abuse, especially for an essential public utility”.
He also contended that group disconnection usually adopted by distribution companies because of the debts owed by some members of the affected groups unfortunately disregards and undermines the rights of other consumers in the groups who did not owe.
He stated: “You see people who are complaining about supply because they, as individuals, have been responsible, but the DISCOs have painted them with a broad stroke and disconnected even the responsible people. As a lawyer, our approach to criminal work, even legal work, has always been that let the guilty man go free instead of punishing the innocent man.
“For me, there’s something fundamentally, absolutely irreparable and inexcusably wrong with penalising people because of the conduct of others. It is just not excusable. Government should never do that to its people. But if government does it as a state actor, as inexcusable as it is, it might even be permissible. But one person who has absolutely no right and should never have the prerogative to do it is a private citizen to another private citizen. And that is what DISCOs do. They group-disconnect consumers. If there’s one responsible consumer who is being disconnected unjustly, what you are doing is that you are discouraging responsibility”, he added.
The CPC boss observed that group disconnection is antithetical to the promotion of an enabling environment for investment, stressing that it “is the quintessential case for mistreatment of an otherwise responsible consumer”.
Earlier, the AEDC managing director had spoken of the need for the company to have a cost reflective tariff for it to have a seamless and a more robust operation, stressing that fluctuation in foreign exchange rates and inflation impact on its activities.
On the issue of estimated billing, he disclosed that efforts are being made to address the metering gap with more meters for consumers and the adoption of an interim plan of metering transformers for a more accurate estimation.
He stated: “The issue of estimated billing has not been fully resolved because of the low rate of metering, and this is closely tied with the impairment on the balance sheet which is tied to tariff issues. The balance sheets are impaired to the extent that we are facing huge challenges to attract investments. But I must say that the government, through the power sector recovery programme, has put up a plan that will address these gaps.
“There will be a reset this year, and there will be some level of adjustments in such a way that the balance sheets will look better, and this will give us impetus to get more finances. I think the whole plan is premised on DISCOs being able to meter customers 100% over 24 months. So we have positioned our sales to meet this challenge of metering. But beyond that, we realised that whereas it is important to meter every customer, there is a very quick win to meter all the transformers”, he said.
According to him, the value of metering transformers is that “even in cases where we have to do an estimate, the estimate becomes very accurate, because it is being done on the basis of measured energy up to the level of distribution transformers, unlike now where these formulas are being applied over a large cluster.
“If you pick a large cluster, there will be distortions of the outliers. There will be customers who will have high estimated bills, there will be others who will have low estimated bills. But if you are doing your estimated billings at the level of the transformer, then you are more accurate, and the other benefit is that you can quickly identify areas, transformers and even customers where electricity is being stolen, because it is important to identify leakages in power, because leakages distort the sharing formula. If everybody is identified and there is equitable sharing, then the estimated billing becomes very accurate. And this will be followed by the actual mass metering. But before the mass metering arrives, we think we can have every means to do the transformer metering”, he added.
The Director General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Babatunde Irukera and his counterpart, at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Moji Adeyeye at the weekend agreed to collaborate to fight the menace of counterfeit and adulterated products in the country.
Both organisations’ Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) had extensive discussions on a wide variety of national and citizens’ protection issues when Irukera visited the NAFDAC DG at NAFDAC Headquarters on Friday.
Key subjects of the discussions included mutual collaboration for more robust protection in the food and drugs sector,
Also, they both underscored the urgent need for broad, focused and strategic intervention in the problem of adulteration and counterfeiting.
In particular, Irukera and Adeyeye noted that this problem is a major threat to the key mandate of both organisations because substandard goods not only violate statutory standards; they also endanger lives and erode consumer confidence.
A major outcome of the meeting is a mutual commitment to jointly deploy the assets and resources of their respective agencies to address this menace.
The meeting further identified other opportunities for cooperation and agreed that follow-up meetings and a structure for joint project execution is in the best interest of consumers.
Speaking after the meeting, the DG of CPC thanked his counterpart in NAFDAC for her warm reception and readiness to partner, noting that the cooperative regulatory approach she has adopted and endorsed exemplifies the best possible strategy to secure the nation in the food and drug sector.
Irukera expressed confidence that the resolutions reached at the meeting will go a long way in addressing questions of quality and standards in the industry, which will be to the benefit of consumers.
Dana Airlines Flight 9J0363 operating from Abuja to Port-Harcourt on February 20, 2018, landed at approximately 19:30hrs and overshot the runway. Cause of incident still unknown but under investigation. Aircraft damaged, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) notified and already in control. Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) secured perimeter scene of incident. 50 Souls On Board (SOB) made up of 44 passengers and 6 crew.
Thankfully, all passengers and crew were safely evacuated without injury. The Consumer Protection Council congratulates relevant airport and aviation authorities, as well as the airline for this safe evacuation and management of what could otherwise have been tragic.
The Council further calls for calm as we await more information and a detailed investigation by the Accident Investigation Bureau in compliance with ICAO standards. In addition, the Council has been in communication with the airline and NCAA. The Council understands that Dana Air has provided logistic support and accommodation to passengers. The Council insists this must comply with minimum standards in accordance with prevailing Regulations under Part 19, Nigerian Civil Aviation Rules (NCAR).
An open, transparent, sensitive and responsive approach by the airline and relevant authorities is vital to sustaining confidence and assuring consumers. The Council welcomes this openness and attention to consumers, including providing medical or psychological support where necessary.
The Consumer Protection Council in collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, other aviation agencies and service providers remains available to all passengers in the sector to answer questions, provide assistance and required assurances at this and other times.
The Director General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), 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 CPC 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 CPC in ensuring resolution that is fair and equitable.
The director general made the assertion while 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.
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has assured that it will ensure all interests are balanced in the enforcement of the provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 for the protection of consumers.
CPC’s Director General, Babatunde Irukera made the assertion on Wednesday (July 19, 2017) at the Council’s headquarters in Abuja when a delegation of the Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance led by the Chairman of the alliance Governing Board, who is also the Deputy Director of the Environmental Rights Action, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi and the Sub-Regional Coordinator, West Africa, of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Mrs. Hilda Ochefu, paid him a courtesy call.
The Alliance visited the Council’s chief executive to request the organisation to play a pivotal role in the enforcement of the nine provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act, among others.
The Director General, while responding to the tobacco control community’s request, asserted that “we have a responsibility to enforce every enactment for the protection of consumers in Nigeria and so the tobacco control Act falls within our mandate and we intend to enforce that”.
He said as far as the Council is concerned the welfare of consumers in the country remains its primary focus and as such the Council would do all that is necessary within the ambit of law to protect them while preserving their right to choice.
According to him, “as far as we are concerned, the law is supreme, and one of the things we try to convey to industry is that consumer is king and we will continue to treat consumers with the royalty they deserve in whatever it is that we would do.
“There is a national tobacco control policy, which we are quite aware of. We recognise the need to collaborate with other regulators. For instance, we know that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is responsible for standards whether it’s the chemical components standards or the packaging and labeling standards. It appears that the Tobacco Control Act makes some fundamental provisions that might affect those. We are studying the provisions and we are looking at what the roles of the Consumer Protection Council should be with respect to them, and what the relationship between what the Act says and what the existing Nigerian National Industrial Standards (NIS) stipulates,” he stated.
Irukera told the tobacco alliance delegation that CPC is quite conscious of its role of protecting consumers “sometimes even from themselves”, stressing that “certainly our role is to protect people in the choices they make and allow them to make those choices, and also to protect those who may be exposed to potential injury on account of the choices that other people make”.
He further clarified the position of the Council as a regulator, which according to him, is to ensure regulations and laws guiding the industry are strictly adhered to for the protection of consumers.
The director general said: “We recognize and respect your position as a civil society organisation and that your role is essentially anti-tobacco, and we respect that. But you must recognize that our role as a regulator is not anti-tobacco. Our role as a regulator is to balance the field and to protect consumers and indeed we will do that, because there are people who consume the product that you are against, whom we also have an obligation to protect.
“We understand all the different dimensions of the obligations that the law imposes on us, but rest assured that with respect to that balanced approach to regulation, you will always have a partner in us. It doesn’t mean we will necessarily always agree, but to the extent that the objective is the same, you can be sure that we will be there to fulfill what we believe are our obligations”, he emphasised.
Earlier, the tobacco alliance delegation had told the director general that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are ready to partner with the Council to build the capacity of its staff to play necessary roles in enforcing the nine provisions of the Act announced by the Minister of Health.
The delegation also charged the Council to use its structure to drive the enforcement of the nine provisions; to champion the cause of smoke-free Nigeria; to support a quick adoption of the tobacco control regulation by the National Assembly; and to stand for an increase of tobacco taxes to discourage youth initiation as well as to boost government revenue.
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) have commenced a process for the formulation of an acceptable Guide to regulate interaction between patients and medical doctors in the country.
The proposed Guide to be known as Patients’ Bill of Rights will identify rights and privileges in a patient-care giver relationship for the protection of consumers.
The Council and the medical association agreed to develop this Guide when the President of NMA, Professor Mike Ogirima led members of his Executive team to pay a courtesy call on the Director General of the Council, Babatunde Irukera, at the Council’s office in Abuja over the weekend.
A Standing Committee, drawing membership from the association and the consumer protection agency, was created at the meeting to immediately advance the finalisation of the document andto expand key areas of collaboration for the promotion of high standards of care and patients’ protection.
Speaking during the visit, CPC’s director general said it is imperative that the two organisations collaborate and jointly disseminate these rights to consumers to promote higher and safer healthcare standards.
Irukera said: “We need to ensure people know their rights - the right to information, proper explanation of their medical situation in a language they understand; the right to control decision-making with respect to their treatment regiment; the right to know when to, where to and how to secure a second opinion, if desired”.
He asserted that the introduction of the Bill of Rights in Nigeria is long overdue, noting that “nothing improves standards more than consumers demanding it and asking questions”.
Irukera and the NMA president underscored the urgency of the need for the Guide when they mutually set a June 2017 deadline for a final draft of the Bill of Rights, just as they also agreed that a short form of the Bill of Rights should be displayed at all public and private healthcare facilities in the country.
Irukera told the visiting NMA’s delegation: “Your industry does not permit any error. The legal industry to which I belong provides successful appeals as many other industries also have built-in redundancies; this is not the case in medicine, which although investigative, requires absolute precision.
He added: “It is tragic that doctors can go on strike. I recognise the fundamentals that are subjects of some of the strikes. However, I have never been able to reconcile the potential and irreversible loss that can and does happen when these strikes occur. One needless permanent injury or death is one too much. We must not trivialize life. I think the rightful partner in reinforcing that message of sanctity of life is the Nigerian Medical Association. For many, saving lives is a motto, but in medicine, it is an obligation”.
The director general also raised the possibility of the association establishing a Victims’ Compensation Fund from which aggrieved patients or their families may receive some succour for professional malpractice.
The NMA President also called on CPC to support re-orientation retreats for the association’s members and other health workers in order to remind them of their sworn oath, which he said “the trends in the society are fast eroding on a continuous basis”.
Similarly, Professor Ogirima also thanked and sought CPC support with respect to the on-going advocacy to make health insurance universal and compulsory.
In a move to provide more succour to aggrieved consumers of beverages and food, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) agreed to raise a technical committee to develop a mutually acceptable compensation code to address consumer abuse in the sector.
The decision to set up the technical committee was taken during the courtesy call of the association on the new Director General of CPC, Mr. Tunde Irukera, at the Council’s headquarters in Abuja.
Mr. Irukera, while commenting on the decision, observed that the code would modify the attitude and responses of the 100 industries that are members of the association to complaints of aggrieved consumers in the sector.
The director general hinted that “the reality is that we have an aggressive consumer protection agency which frankly we must have, regardless of whatever approach one must take to protect the consumer and we have a responsibility to protect the consumer, to the extent of coming up with an approach that is in the interest of those consumers.
“So having to use a compensation policy as an example, if a consumer were to complain about a product, claiming that it made him ill, we could obviously come together and work with an acceptable methodology that would be fairer and more predictable across the board, rather than when a complaint occurs and gets out of hand... if we work together, we can come up with something that would be acceptable across the board and you can go and percolate it as a kind of voluntary guide, and whoever doesn’t want to abide by it, that’s ok, but at least we should have something that we can work with. And in that regard we will be happy to work with you on mutually acceptable implementations and come up with key issues in respect to consumer protection” he said.
The CPC’s director general said the Council would be willing to collaborate effectively with the association because of its widespread influence in almost every home, noting that “I have found that professional and trade associations like this, when they are very strong, are perhaps the best partners because you can affect consumers far more when you come to some understanding with the association and they go back to enforce it within themselves than dealing with each member”.
While asserting that he would always respect individual brands and their prerogative to protect themselves, he emphasised that “integrity of your brand is also in the interest of Consumer Protection Council because anything that affects the integrity of your brand also affects consumer confidence.
“Certainly, one thing the Council will want to promote is consumer confidence. We want consumers to be confident of choices they make and the products they consume. It will be helpful also when there are issues to work on to recognise that we are on the same page with respect to brand confidence. That flows from the point I want to make with respect to fake products, we can approach that in a collaborative way in the sense that we would like to protect the integrity of your brand so that we are sure consumers are getting the right products”, he added.
On the importance of the association, Irukera observed: “If there is any association that its members are in every home as early as , it is your association. If there is an industry that affects humanity more than any other, it is yours. Every single person in the country is eating or drinking something. So for that reason, I thought it is vital that I immediately prioritise meeting with your association. From a strategic stand-point and from a road-map or blueprint standpoint, your industry is number one”.
He emphasised that regulatory work is more effective when there is collaboration, noting that “the interesting thing about consumer protection is that both the operator and the regulator have the same focus, which is the consumer” and that if the regulator and the operator have the same objective of making the consumer happier, “then we are likely to always have a meeting ground than we have now”.
Earlier, the AFBTE’s President, Mr. Fred Chiazor, had appealed to the Council’s new director general to collaborate with the association with a view to getting faster and deeper enforcement of consumer protection regime in the sector.
According to him, “our major plea is that if there are issues that come up as time goes on, that we be notified immediately through our association. We want to help the CPC to succeed. We are usually very proactive and if there are areas you want us to work with you, we are ready to do that.
“Currently in some agencies, we have a joint committee where we look into issues jointly because we don’t believe in a police and criminal kind of relationship, and we are not saying we want to partner to make you overlook certain key things. No, we will do the right things, and that’s why we said we should come on this visit and tell you about ourselves most importantly, to welcome you on board and we are happy you are here and believe that it’s like divine intervention and God keeping us all alive, we will see that this agency succeeds and does what its mandate is supposed to be” Chiazor added.