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Consumer Protection Council & The Paradigm Shift



I like to start by establishing that this article is not about a person or character, but purely a Public Service initiative, and a commitment to add value through service. It is aimed at contributing to a major shift in paradigm, as we seem to see with the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), going by its present activities. The first time I heard of the CPC about three years ago, it happened like a ‘discovery’, because I was , as at then, one of the over 75 per cent of educated urban/metropolitan population who had no idea there was an institution so-called.

I am yet to physically meet with Mr Babatunde Irukera, the director general of Consumer Protection Council (CPC), but I look forward to a meeting with the DG. The most has been interaction on the social media platform, twitter precisely. From his media habit and usage pattern, as of today, I think he is ready to share his handle freely; he follows-back not minding who comes on, in so far the new entrant adds to the subject of Consumer Rights Protection. He fits in my profile of a certain rating for egalitarian leadership, but certainly a progressive team-player. He seems to be decided on adding value – even if this is outside the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) – as a team leader.

The subject of Consumer Rights Protection should be addressed as an all-inclusive of legal socio-economic subject in an equally inclusive conversational tone; a topical concern, hydra-headed, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional…in our collective responsibility and its implication (on the larger population, The Consumer). Each time I have to single out the mention of the Consumer, I instinctively add the general classification of the consumer, being all of us together. The last part emphasises the all-inclusive nature of the Conversation for Consumer Rights Protection. All-concerned, need to internalise the fact that the issues of concern are for the good of all of us.

There-in lies the need for a shift in the pattern of conversation for Consumer Rights Protection. Firstly, the required change calls for a re-profiling of the target audience for the new conversation, a structural rework of the framework for the conversation, a calibration of the structural dimension of the conversation (that would include choice and use of language in line with the context and essence of its application), structure and stages of public engagement and a careful design of a near-automated feedback mechanism that will be reliable enough to sustain an all-inclusive communication process.

What we have now is a mono-directional information channel, discriminatory in intellectual equipment, language and tone-of voice, communication infrastructure and platform, and open to system abuse. Even as a channel of information, the present model compromises on target audience location, in the sense that it is premium for cosmopolitan followership. Its contents dissemination platform hinges on sophisticated New Media infrastructure, to achieve base-level reach. Those in rural and semi-rural dwellings are left out of the reach-bracket, in absolute terms, albeit that is not the intention.

The foregoing consideration underscores the magical impact of the new direction of the present Director General of the CPC. What I see him do presently is up-end on the value of effective communication as the most efficient channel to optimise the deliverables for Consumer Rights Protection project. To achieve his new goal, I think, Mr Irukera, decided, as is the case with President Donald Trump, to work around the institutional bottle-necks occasioned by the official channels of corporate and institutional communication/information dissemination, and frontally engage with and for the public so that he can up the ante for the benefit of all. So, he took to the social media platform, especially the twitter, developing and posting contents that wouldvaggravate the concern and involvement of all concerned. In no small way, this new strategic decision, has deepened the conversation and opened u a new population of interested parties, directly impacting on the Reach & Penetration level for the CPC,

In what I see as a deliberate effort to implement a paradigm shift. Once again, let us under-pin the basic characteristic value of communication for Consumer Rights Protection…consumer empowerment through education, information and enlightenment. These attendant tools gives fillip to the consumer’s capacity and capability to say No in the face of evident rights abuse at the market place. In our edition for next week, we shall drive this conversation for the reason to appropriately articulate the value touch-point for the conversation for Consumer Rights Abuse, from the perspective of Cognitive Dissonance as a theory. The centre-point of every CPC activity, and its support-organisations (including the registered NGOs), is properly situating the essence and (appropriate) pattern of its public communication. Until that is achieved, we shall keep limiting our potentials at delivering on our collective expectations.

Let us quickly add the global dimension of this issue at this point, to help us articulate its importance to us as individual consumers in Nigeria, Nigeria as a member of the committee of nations, the local institutional stakeholders (versus international counterpart institutions), and the implications on our economic growth chart (particularly for commerce). The implications of all the component parts of the broad communication infrastructure for consumer rights protection come down with telling implications on our rating at the various levels listed above. Since we signed-on to the international movement for consumer rights protection, Nigeria as a whole and its integral associates for the same course, are rated in their performance, in contribution to actualising the global objective of consumer rights protection.

I am certain some commercial brands and corporate bodies are not finding the New CPC so-friendly. Firstly, public awareness is broader, concerns from the primary focus group are growing, instances of consumer rights violation are more and more being exposed, the collaboration is growing wider, adding new recruits to the family of empowered consumers. The present communication strategy is adding value. Who would have expected the CPC to be so instant in dealing with issue of altered flight schedule (flight cancellation) involving Air France and her Nigerian passengers, requiring of redress? That the passengers had the confidence in the CPC to address the issue and reported it as such, expecting a proper redress, says so much for the new posture of the CPC; public/consumers’ confidence is growing.
The various Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOS) and recently, the health service sector, are piqued by the up-scale in affront at what seems a confrontational engagement by the CPC, on the behalf of consumers (all of us).

Certainly the dynamics are changing. Yet, the evolution has to continue, as what we see presently is only the peripheral. From us at MC&A Digest, the paradigm shift should be more comprehensive, taking into account the specifics mentioned in paragraphs three to five above. As we know, our population is largely rural-based, with literacy level being about 38 per cent (if not less), and poor economy with rising inflation; all of the above clearly show that the larger population of consumers are left out in the Twitter-channel of communication and the premium use of English language as the prime-driver of the present conversation. That is our worry. Whereas one can point to a progressive conversation in terms of scope and pattern that promises to support marginal growth in reach & penetration, it is yet grossly inadequate. We shall submit a proposal on how to engage for a more plausible strategic engagement to the CPC, very soon, for her consideration.

The various Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOS) and recently, the health service sector, are piqued by the up-scale in affront at what seems a confrontational engagement by the CPC, on the behalf of consumers (all of us).



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