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EU, CPC partner on consumer rights, support for the poor

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IN order to protect the rights of consumers especially those in the lower strata of the society, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has entered into a partnership with the European Union (EU) to ensure that manufacturers and service providers deliver good products and services to consumers according to international best practices.

Specifically, the partnership, which is being midwife by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), is aimed at strengthening the quality of products of Nigerian industries. The EU also said it would focus more on the rights of consumers and see to what extent they could be assisted in getting justice for any misdemeanour by products and service providers.

Ambassador of the delegation of the European Union to Nigeria Michel Aarion gave this indication yesterday at a meeting with the council in Abuja.

Aarion said the kind of concerns exhibited whenever issues that affect workers, employers, tax payers and business owners are raised cannot be said to be the same as when consumers’ issues are raised. This lopsidedness he noted must be corrected by addressing in concrete terms injustice done to consumers and proffer lasting solutions to them.

“European Union in Nigeria has actually different profiles in different areas of activities, we are known traditionally as a development agency and we are working a lot with agencies like the National Planning Commission implementing projects in the field of development cooperation and also trade related cooperation. We are also developing political and policy dialogue with Nigeria and ECOWAS.

“We need to bear in mind that Nigeria is the headquarters of ECOWAS so most of the European Ambassadors, High Commissioners and heads of Commissions are being accredited to Nigeria and ECOWAS and so we believe that things like consumers protection are also important at the regional level because if you start importing and exporting products which is the active goal of ECOWAS, the consumers are to be protected.”

“When we talk of consumers’ protection, we are not only talking about the economic rights of consumers but basic human rights because we believe that consumers’ rights are integral part of international instruments either at UN level and African Union level, consumers’ rights are part of the social and economic right of every citizens and in particular the African citizens’.

He alluded that the way and manner consumers are being ignored may be due to the fact that they are not sufficiently organised. He said the EU would work with CPC in areas where consumers’ rights are to be protected.

Director-General of the council, Mrs. Dupe Atoki said the high platform of development the European Union had placed the council is one that should be emulated by other agencies and stakeholders noting that everybody in a consumer of either goods or services or both in most cases.

She said the move by the EU to assist the council in its drive to help consumers actualise their potentials of being the driver of any economic is also a wake- up call for all consumers to know that they have the capacity to shut down any business that is not giving them the best for their money by their refusal to patronise such business.

She said consumers’ issue had over the years being at the low level of recognition, which has also affected the budgeting line because the council is not regarded as a prime agency of government. She said the economic role consumer play in the growth of any nation is one that cannot be pushed aside by the wave of the hand noting that any investment coming to any nation is benchmarked on the support of the consumers.

“If every consumer decided to go on strike and refuse to patronise a business, then we cannot talk of investment. On that note I realise that we need to do a lot in sensitising the consumers themselves to know who they are. They are king and they have the right to exercise their royal prerogative not to patronise a service or product. And so when you chose to patronise a business, then you should get value for money. And if you don’t get value, complain and insist on getting value. This will ensure that producers of goods and providers of services are compelled to comply to what consumer desire.”



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