The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it now receives over 100 complaints daily from consumers regarding poor services by firms and service providers, a figure that is relatively small for the whole country but significantly higher than the past.
The agency, formerly the Consumer Protection Council, said before now it received an average of 50 complaints monthly, indicating low consumer rights awareness.
“As of today, we receive nothing less than 100 complaints in one day. This is because Nigerian consumers are becoming enlightened day by day,” FCCPC’s director of administration, Mohammed Aliyu, said on Tuesday during an engagement with consumer-related civil society organisations in Abuja.
Nigerians frequently accuse service providers and private companies of mistreating customers and violating their rights. Yet, few follow through the process of filing complaints and seeking redress. The banking, telecoms and aviation sectors are the usually the most criticised sectors.
In February, airlines in the country raised flight tickets in the country 100 per cent to N50,000 against anti-competitive laws and have not reversed or moderated the rates despite complaints from passengers and a directive by the FCCPC.
The government said it is doing more to raise awareness amongst customers about their rights, and will do so working with civil society organisations. The FCCPC met with 30 CSOs in Abuja on Tuesday, the first of such engagements.
Mr Aliyu said the number of complaints has increased from 50 received quarterly or monthly previously as a result of “enlightenment for the consumers”.
He urged the groups to engage citizens through consumer rights awareness campaigns to broaden their knowledge on rights.
“We have to collaborate with you to see that Nigeria consumers are not cheated. We have to organise programmes like these workshops, seminars, so that this programme will serve as a train the trainer whatever you learn here, go back to your various destinations and enlighten Nigerian consumers,” he added.
The consumer agency assured it will employ stiffer actions against businesses that breach the consumers data privacy.
The head, Surveillance and Enforcement Department of FCCPC, Omagu Nwachukwu, said the meeting was to help minimise the number of complaints received by the commission and possibly resolve them.
“You have the power to resolve complaints through mediations, you also have the power to resolve some societal issues through advocacy in your localities without even coming to the commission,” she said. “We want to have a holistic approach to complaints resolution.”
Cecilia Powl, the executive secretary of the Non Governmental Association for Literacy Support Services, which works to enlighten consumers on their rights, said consumers find it difficult to engage owing to illiteracy and ignorance.
She called for more opportunities to engage consumers while encouraging her colleagues to continue engaging with rural consumers on their rights.