MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR GENERAL (Download copy of the CPC 2016 Annual Report)
It is with great pleasure that I present the maiden edition of the 2016 Annual Report of the Consumer Protection Council which is a reflection of the work we have done to promote and protect the interest of Nigerian consumers. In executing its mandate in that wise, the Council in the last three years under my watch has made considerable progress in protecting consumers in several sectors of the economy towards combating consumer abuses, curbing impunity of business operators and generally ensuring consumers get value for money.
Due to the huge consumer abuse in virtually all sectors of the economy, the Council in developing its 2013-2017 strategic plan, identified a tripod stand for a fast track delivery of its mandate via sectoral intervention, enhanced consumer awareness and collaborations with other sector regulators.
The sector intervention, envisages identifying the major player in a sector with pervasive consumer abuse, investigating and issuing orders to redress same. It has the attendant effect of modifying the behavior of other businesses in the sector towards self-regulation.This maiden report highlights the Council’s most significant achievements and interventions for the year 2016. We continue to aggressively focus on our mandate to provide speedy redress to consumer complaints and have deployed the sectoral strategy in the Satellite TV service, Food and Beverage (particular reference to beer industry), Banking, Hospitality, Aviation and Electricity sectors.
I am therefore very proud of our achievements in this wise as the Council in 2016 has issued orders for refund and compensation to the tune of about N2, 500,000,000 which includes $31,948.87 and €1,406. The sectoral intervention adopted in the strategic plan enabled such result and provided speed and spread to consumer redress.
The intervention of the Council in satellite TV service, focused on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, the dominant provider of direct satellite broadcast service under the name of DStv in Nigeria. Consumers of that service can now enjoy improved services including contemporaneous release of service upon payment for renewal, access to toll free lines, one free to air channel when subscription expires and suspension of service for a limited period when absent from base, among others.
Our focus on the banking sector led to the order to First City Monument Bank Plc to refund N1,542,775,841.58 to Bauchi State Government being unlawful bank charges and other deductions. While the matter remains subjudice, the sector is now mindful of such exploitative behaviour.
Our intervention in the hospitality sector focused on the VIP Express Tourism Limited, a travel and tourism company that offers vacation accommodation services in the time share model. The Council ordered the refund of N25 Million to over 60 subscribers of this service due to the exploitative nature of the contracts they were made to sign which waived their rights to rescind.
Our intervention in Telecommunication and Food & Beverage is to safeguard advert/promo/information that are deceptive or misleading. In this wise, the foremost provider of telecommunication service in Nigeria, MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd and also foremost producer of beer in that industry, Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc came under investigation.
Consumer Education also received great attention in the year under review even as we continue to impact consumers through the weekly Television and Radio programmes. The Television programmes which are produced from the in-house studio of the Council by trained staff, is a cost effective initiative of the current administration.
This year the Council made conscious effort to expand its reach to the grass root, by embarking on several sensitisation programmes that have far reaching effects on these consumer groups. We also intensified the awareness activities to schools while the Young Consumer Clubs continue to grow.
The visibility of the Council has grown considerably this year. This is evident in the increase the Council has noticed in its social media followership, website visits as well as the number of complaints received. The print and electronic media have also followed the Council keenly this year, as news on the activities of the Council is frequently featured, keeping Nigerians abreast of consumer issues.
Despite the financial and human resource challenges, the Council is determined to improve on the achievements recorded in 2016. Provision of prompt redress to consumer complaints must be a given. Business exists thanks to the consumers not at their expense.
Finally, I want to thank the staff of the Council for their doggedness in protecting the interest of Nigerian consumers, despite the institutional challenges and resistance from businesses. I am confident that there are better days ahead for Nigerian consumers.