LETTER TO THE EDITOR! Consumer protection and post-product monitoring


Sir: It is undeniable that most Nigerian consumers are unaware of their rights, which makes it even more challenging for them to pursue restitution or compensation if a product causes them harm.

Evidently, the problems of inadequate sensitisation, low literacy, and regulatory laxity lie at the core of this reality. Even for the well-informed, the customarily drawn-out process of seeking justice for a product danger through either traditional courts or regulators’ resolution processes is a significant deterrent. Given this situation, it is reasonable to say that the majority of consumers do not receive the desired value and satisfaction from the use of the product or service. Although a responsible manufacturer is supposed to guarantee the security of its customers, regulators have a greater responsibility to guarantee adherence to production and safety requirements.

But what is evident is that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC), the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and the National Agency for Food Drug and Administration (NAFDAC)—the three main consumer protection regulatory bodies—do not effectively monitor products after they are manufactured or certified for public consumption. Perhaps for lack of adequate funding. The truth is, a manufacturer will rather spend less to produce a product while hoping to reap a bounty of profit, thus the tendency to compromise product composition and stipulated specifications even after obtaining certification or approval of such product.

What is more concerning is the amount of subpar or uncontrolled consumer goods—particularly imported dairy and cosmetics —that are flooding the Nigerian market. There are instances where the labelling on these products is printed in languages other than English, endangering the purchasers’ right to information and ultimately knowledge of what is fit for their health. In the event that the aforementioned scenario results in product harm, it is implausible that a consumer would hold the producer accountable or that the regulator would be able to call for evidence about the product in question.

The Centre for Consumer Concern Initiative, in this wise, advocates a stricter post-product regulatory oversight by authorities. This is predicated on the belief that strong product safety enforcement is necessary to safeguard Nigerian consumers, and a similar vein, promotes fair competition, encourages innovation and instills consumer confidence in safe items that reach the market.

Muyiwa Ayojimi.