Atoki: Giving A New Meaning To Consumer Protection | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Atoki: Giving A New Meaning To Consumer Protection

Posted: Apr 4, 2016 at 3:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Tony Ezimakor, Abuja


 For Nigerians, a sheriff, Dupe Atoki, Director General of Nigeria Consumer Protection Council (CPC), has tasked herself on special mission to ensure they received adequate protection and compensation on whatever they consume.

One of the problems of a consumer based economy is often that consumers are disrespected, at times maltreated by service providers interested only in their hard earned money. From paid televisions to telephone calls, to erratic electricity, Nigerian consumers are left to their bear the burden of daily existence usually at the mercy of service providers, leaving many with heavy losses.

In the past, consumers who go to lay complaints expecting to have them treated with dispatch were often left so disappointed. This was blamed on low staff morale.

The staff had poor understanding of the council’s mandate, acute abuse of consumer rights and apparent culture of impunity by business owners.

The lowest point was the frequent poor budgetary allocation to the council. This hampered service deliveries even as staff salaries were left unpaid for months. With lack of work incentives, staff abandoned their statutory responsibilities to fend for themselves elsewhere.
This was the difficult environment Atoki found herself in 2013 when she assumed duty. One thing she accepted was to first accept her assignment as a call for new service.

Known as human right campaigner with exemplary and expertise both at the national and international human rights field, Mrs Atoki went to work by first studying the various challenges why consumer rights were being flagrantly abused.

The revolution started with the overhauling of the state of the council, to reposition it for the renewed vision and mission.
By conducting a study, she commenced an institutional reorganisation and capacity building spanning four years standard communication, advocacy and campaign strategy was adopted to better inform consumers.

She launched sectoral interventions, which involved conducting a full scale investigation into consumer complaints involving a major player in a particular sector, thereby modifying the conduct of the major industry player and setting the standard for other industry players to follow.

Effective enforcement of consumer rights and prosecution of offenders began, which led to business owners taking consumers seriously.

The need to upgrade the council’s work tools received new attention. Staff started having access to the required tools to better serve the public.

 The council started advocacy and public enlightenment programme to educate consumers on their rights and how these rights could be protected and how offenders could be punished.

The steps yielded prompt international endorsement as Ford Foundation funded an in-house audio-visual studio for better service deliveries.

Special training programmes were created to train staff on script writing, shooting, presentation, editing and other areas to aid their television production.

 Because information is power, the council commenced a 30-minute weekly television programme called ”Consumer Voice”, which is produced internally and transmitted every Thursday on NTA International.

In addition, repackaged and recommenced a 30-minute weekly phone-in programme, “Consumer Speaks, transmitted on the network of Radio Nigeria.

 Revamped the council’s website, which was otherwise static, to become more informative and responsive to consumer needs

The setting up of good operation environment started to yield fruits in various sectors.