The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says Nigeria needs more regulations to ensure that consumers are protected in the country.
Babatunde Irukera, FCCPC chief executive officer (CEO), said this in his keynote address at the commission’s maiden seminar held in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme, ‘competition and consumer growth in the Nigerian business landscape,’ Irukera said a regulatory framework has become essential at a time when consumers’ role in the country’s business landscape has become pronounced.
He said besides ensuring consumers get value for their spending, a good regulatory framework engenders healthy competition needed for business growth.
The FCCPC chief dismissed claims consumer protection stifles business growth.
“It is a tragic paradox to say consumer protection stifles business growth. We have got businesses that believe their survivalbility and sustenance is about the quality of their products and competition in satisfying consumers. How can that same business argued at the regulatory framework which protect what is considered the sustainability becomes bottlenecks? How do know that an economy is doing well is through consumer spending. Consumer spending is a key index to measure how well an economy is performing,” he said.
“Consumer spending is as much a matter of consumer satisfaction as it is to disposable income. Disposable income is not the only reason people spend. People spend because they are satisfied and they spend again and so any regulatory framework to ensure that that is happening is not a bottleneck, rather it is an enabler. So, there is nothing more fallacious than the perception that consumer protection to the ease of doing business. If you look at the United States which has the freest commerce in the world, there are multi-levels of regulatory frameworks and oversight in the consumer protection space, whether it is security or safety. So, it is pure rhetoric to say consumer protection frustrate business growth.
“We in a time where quite frankly, we must look inward and see how our people are sufficiently protected, their rights and respected, their needs are what businesses provide and that our businesses can also thrive. One of the things I found out in my short time in office is that both appetite, audacity, knowledge and competence are absolutely available in the Nigerian businesses, perhaps at the level you can find in the best environment. In any organisation that are succeeding well in the world, you will be amazed at the key roles Nigeria play in pushing their successes. And so, if we have that appetite, we have those skills, we must contribute to the framework that provides us if not the competitive advantage, at least a level playing field.
“It is important that we work together so that we can create that framework, that will not only continue to make us an incredibly attractive market, but one that democratizes profits so that we can can benefit from both consumer and market sides, we can benefit from our markets as much as those that we opened our markets to. And what Holla is doing is therefore is commendable and most in. FCCPC today has its headquarters in Abuja and nine offices across the country, six in the geopolitical zones One in Lagos, Kano Abuja for obviously reasons. And this is dealing with about 200 million Nigerians in 774 local governments. In the absence of watchdogs like Holler! How much ground can we cover? That is why is an extremely important effort, especially by people who comes from commerce and understands consumer protection not just from a cynical activism stand point, but purely from a commerce and business stand point. Therein in that combination lies the stability and the hope of better protection and better businesses.
On his part, Peter Bamikole, director, enterprise development centre, Pan-Atlantic University, asked the FCCPC to think of ways of making its activities known to Nigerians.
Bamikole, who was a panelist at the event, said many Nigerians are enduring several challenges in their day-to-day transactions with businesses but lacked knowledge of where to channel their complaints.
Goodluck Obi, another panelist at the event, who spoke on ‘how to win in the Nigerian consumer landscape’, said companies in Nigeria must leverage on the growing market in the country by providing value and satisfaction to consumers.
He said it was essential if they are to successfully navigate the competition and threats inherent in the country’s business landscape.
“How consumer markets companies can thrive in the midst of competition and threats is to define brand ambition and vision, be where the customer is, attract the right talent and internalise regulations,” he said.
A highlight of the event was the launch of the ‘Holler’ website — a free online customer and consumer review platform.
”Holler’ interface is where customers can review the services they receive, know that the review will be available to them as required and can be viewed for reference and channelled to the organisation and appropriate authority for immediate remediation,” Marie-Therese Phido, chief executive officer (CEO), Elevato and Associates, said.
“Organisations and service providers can also use the site to see what their customers are saying and use this feedback to provide better service and gain more customers and loyalty.
“The Holler platform works with organisations and key stakeholders to ensure that the customer and the service provider relationship in Nigeria is optimal and focused on better customer experience for all.”