NIGERIA – The European Union (EU), through United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), is partnering with the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) with the aim of raising the bar of consumer protection in Nigeria.

A statement issued by the regulatory body stated that the partnership, which is under the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) Project, has capacity building for the council’s staff, consumer awareness and quality training for businesses as its components.

The statement, which quoted the UNIDO’s Chief Technical Advisor on the NQI, Mr. Charles Malata-Chirwa, who spoke at the opening of the training of the CPC workers on the organisation’s enabling Act, said the capacity building was one of the programmes set out under the NQI “to support the council to achieve its mandate”.

Malata-Chirwa, who represented the UNIDO’s Country Representative, disclosed that there are five major components of setting a quality policy and associated technical regulation under the Quality Infrastructure Project. He stated that while some of the programmes would address the supply side of the economy, the support to CPC is to enhance the demand side.

According to him, under the NQI, UNIDO, through the funding from EU, would establish an accreditation body, that would be internationally-recognised, set up a metrology institute, which would also be internationally recognised and “hopefully with the assistance and collaboration of the private sector, we will initiate conformity assessment body”, all of which, he said are on the supply side.

The Chief Technical Advisor stated that NQI identified CPC as a key stakeholder and one of the beneficiaries of the five components of the project because of its relevance to the nation’s economic growth.

He said: “CPC deals with the demand side, the consumers. And we cannot have a quality infrastructure which only looks at the players in the market without also looking at the consumers. It is for that reason we believe that this in-house training will enable us reach out to the consumers in a more structured and in a more effective way.

“Only if we know our strength and only if we know our jurisdictions, will we be able to engage the consumers so that they on their own will be able to demand from the industrialists  and other players in the market, the quality that is required.

So through that process, we see the entire quality infrastructure in Nigeria becoming complete and will be able to compete at the international level”, he asserted, pointing out that “all this is happening through the auspices of the European Union, which has funded the project with around 12 million Euro, about 4.3 billion Naira”.

Speaking earlier, CPC’s Director General, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, commended UNIDO for its decision to include the council in its NQI Project, noting that the organization made a good choice “that is going to give you proper deliverables that will support your investment in this project”. 

The Director General said the capacity building would fill a training gap she identified on her assumption of office last year, stating that the Council’s mandate, “which is clearly explicit in the law has not been translated in the minds and hearts of the staff sufficiently enough for them to be able to move the Council with the right pace.

“We are the apex consumer protection agency in Nigeria and therefore we have all Nigerians as our constituency in terms of protection. Therefore, it is no mean task that we have as an agency and I will like the staff to be well vast with regards to the Act at the end of this training.

The staff need to know how the law has empowered them to do their work, what the powers of the Council are and how they can move to protect consumers.

I am very excited that we have a lead consultant, who has the passion for consumer protection and will bring it down to the knowledge of staff that they have investigatory powers and that our orders must be taken seriously. The laws are there to support us”, she added.

November 10, 2014;