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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