From Walter Ukaegbu, Abuja
Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, has asserted that the ministry and the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) need to collaborate to save Nigerians from increasing instances of consumer abuses in the telecom sector.
He made the assertion when the Director-General of the CPC, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, led her management team to pay a courtesy call on him in Abuja to intimate the minister on the relevance of the ministry in activities lined up for the commemoration of the 2017 World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD), whose theme is “Building a Digital Age Consumers Can Trust.”
Atoki stressed the need to step up protection for consumers in the telecom sector.
Enumerating the challenges consumers in the digital age in Nigeria face, the CPC boss said everything has been digitalised, “except for our breathing, because at the touch of a button something just happens, so we cannot avoid being engulfed in the digital system.
“We are looking at acknowledging the benefits of the digital world, examining the challenges that innovations have brought, we are to look at all the peculiarities and take up those issues and try to resolve them.
“For us in Nigeria, we know that there are concerns on online redress, because you can do so many things online, you can purchase a product online, but when there is a fault, you cannot do the same online.
“You cannot get redress online. If you bought a product that is dissatisfactory, the businesses have not created a portal that eases consumer redress.
“We also have online security, where you have fraud. This is where the 419 and the yahoo-yahoo people, as you call them, thrive on the digital system. And so we have so much fraud going on using the various platforms for digital process” she said.
Atoki added that, “We also have the privacy protection issues here, one of which is unsolicited messages that we receive. These are as a result of the digital platforms for which these processes are being put to us, and so it’s either messages or sometimes you are forced to get a caller tune that you are not even aware of, so your privacy is being invaded via these various platforms.”
Shittu stressed the need for more synergy between the ministry and the council because ICT, particularly telecoms, has the greatest impact on the Nigerian consumer community.
He said, “Telecoms and ICT are the biggest influence on human lives, on businesses and even on government. I think that ICT, particularly telecoms, is one area where we can possibly affect Nigerians perhaps more than any other. As at today, we have 150 million Nigerians who use telephones and that shows the only area with the largest users.”