NRG Meeting II

(National Reference Group Second Round Meetings)

In Media – Nigeria

Nigeria: MAN, CEON Task Nass On Competition Law

Daily Independent, Nigeria, January 11, 2010

Abuja — The Consumer Empowerment Organisation of Nigeria (CEON) and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on Tuesday tasked the nation’s lawmakers to put in place effective competition policy to regulate the Nigerian consumers’ market.

The coordinator and founder of CEON, a non-governmental organisation, Adedeji Abiodun, urged the Nigeria’s lawmaker at the second round of the national reference group meeting on the roadmap for domestic competition reforms in Nigerian, held at the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) Headquarters in Abuja.

According to Abiodun, the continued absence and imbalance competition policy in the demand and supply chains in the nation’s consumer market can be attributed to lack of political will stemming from lack of understanding of the benefits from an effective competition regime among those at the political affairs in the country.

He also identified low level of awareness among government and business segments about competition law, and strong lobbies, vested interest and corruption as impending factors and frequent reporting of anti-competitive practices in the media factors that have brought about the unharmonious competition in the Nigeria’s market place.

While regretting the perceived lack of consensus between the different government departments and turf issues, he said: “In spite of the three sets of bills on competition policy put before the National Assembly in the last three years, government is yet to adopt a practicable competition law.

The absence of a concise and effective competitive law, he said constituted why Nigerian’s farmers have continued to rely on the use of old stocks of crops and stocks since they can not afford the price of hybrid seedlings, which later will affect their productivity.

He said: “Lack of competition in seeds and fertilisers markets as a result of high cost of input is also as a result of lack of competition law in the country.”

Adding he said, “We want to have a road map for competition reforms in Nigeria so this is a project that we have started since last year and it involves research and the outcome of this research will be use at different levels to ensure that the country has competition law.

He also noted that at the moment Nigerian is one of the countries without competition law and we also acknowledge the need for relevant stakeholders to contribute to this course.

He said his organisation is working with the CPC, which is from the government with other stakeholders to find a way to win the conscience of government on the need to evolve a workable policy. “And that is why we have come together to strategise on how to go about the issue. This is the second meeting the first was last year and our aim is for us in Nigeria to have a functional competition law and that is the whole essence of this exercise,” he said.

A representative of MAN, Okpe Sunday Adejoh, adduced that the aftermath of the absence of the competition law is severe hardship on the consumers.

According to him, some years back consumers of gas were buying the products at the rate of about N6.00 per cubic liter but today some can no longer afford it as the price has been increased up to about N63 per cubic liter.

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Group stresses need for competition law

Next, Nigeria, January 11, 2010

A non-governmental organisation, Consumer Empowerment Organisation of Nigeria, said market competition has had a terrible impact on Nigerian consumers and urged the federal government to enact a law to regulate market activities in the country.

The group said the only way to check the high price and general imbalance faced by consumers and other players in the market is to enact a Competition Law, adding that today, businessmen who desire patronage, engage in all kinds of shady practices at the expense of consumers and the economy.

Such a law is expected to make the economy prosper, provide mutual benefits to everybody in the market and improve consumer welfare.

Lack of commitment

Coordinator of the group, Adedeji Abiodun who said these on Tuesday in Abuja, at a forum organised to provide a road-map for competition reforms, lamented government’s lack of commitment on the matter and noted that the country is one of the few without a functional competition law.

Mr. Abiodun further said that “perceived lack of consensus between the different government departments about the benefits, opposition from big businesses towards the adoption of the law, low level of awareness among government and business segment about competition issues” are among the challenges hindering the law.

He however stressed that laws governing the market are necessary and applicable to all the sectors in the economy otherwise buyers and sellers will throw caution to the winds.

Mr. Abiodun said, “There is need for continuous advocacy to be able to break that barrier that is the market barrier at the national level. We have two or three bills pending, so we want to keep on pressuring them to see the reason why the bill must be passed. We have already started the advocacy and we will intensify on it to see that the bill is passed.”

Previous law

The federal government had in 1992, established the Consumer Protection Council by Act No. 66 of 1992. The Agency was saddled with the responsibility of protecting the interest of the consumers, providing redress to complaints and sensitizing consumers to act as discerning discriminating buyers in the market.

Director General of the Council, Ify Umenyi, said the agency is collaborating with bodies like National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, to ensure compliance by dealers in goods and services, saying that the council will soon commence the registration of products and services in the Nigerian market.

She also said the council organises radio programmes on radio network, tagged, ‘Consumer Speaks’ and ‘Consumer watchdog’ on the television to further educate and enlighten Nigerian consumers on their right to quality goods and services.

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