Nigerian consumers have been told not to allow themselves to be taken for granted any longer as they should wake up to their rights.

The Lagos State Consumers Protection Agency, LASCOPA and the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN made this call during the Brand Journalists Walk For Consumers Awareness organised by the Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria, BJAN as part of activities marking the 2018 World Consumer Rights Day, with the theme ‘Making digital marketplaces fairer’.

Speaking at the headquarters of Lagos State Consumers Protection Agency, LASCOPA where the journalists had terminated their march for the consumers which they had embarked upon from the Manufactures Association of Nigeria, MAN Building in Ikeja, Lagos, the LASCOPA Board Chairman, Mrs Funmi Falana said consumers protection is very paramount to the state government.

“Our business here is to protect the right of consumers for the products and services they get. We want to make sure that the standard of goods and services brought into this country or produced in this country commensurate with the standard they can get all over the world, that is, international standard.

According to Falana, where anyone falls below the standard, the agency would not fail in prosecuting offenders.

Welcoming the brand journalists to the agency’s headquarters, Falana said,
“We are glad to have the brand journalists with us. Basically, we understand that what you do is to report on brands and consumers issues. That is very similar to what we do. As a matter of fact, part of what we do here is to protect the rights of consumers.

“We are glad for this visit on a day like this to celebrate and commemorate the World Consumers Protection Day . We are glad you are here.

According to the LASCOPA boss, “Complaints are received free of charge. People can contact us by submitting hard copy or send mails to us online or call us on phone. We are here for the consumers of Lagos state and consumers in Nigeria in general.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Kayode Oluwasona, President of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, who also joined the journalists in the march said the AAAN decided to be part of the walk because they believe in the cause that BJAN was pushing.

“My being here is to represent all the advertising agencies in Nigeria showing that we are partnering with BJAN because we believe in the cause that they are pushing.”

Speaking further, the AAAN President noted that the walk was symbolic as he said; “I always say something. When you walk for, you are saying a lot of things in communication. What you are saying is that you are standing with. What you are saying is that you are sacrificing, supporting the consumers. When you walk for the consumers, what we are saying is that we are supporting the consumers. We are standing by the consumers and we are sacrificing for the consumers.” Oluwasona said.

According to him, “We could have been in our offices even if we don’t have work to do. We could have been sleeping or we could have just been hanging anywhere. But we are out here taking a walk in the sun all because it is in our interest. And why did I say it is in our interest? There is what we called enlightened self interest. All of us here are consumers. I am a consumer and you are all consumers. So when you are doing anything in support of the consumers, you are doing it for yourself. ”

Reiterating the needs for consumers to always ensure that they get value for whatever they are paying for, Oluwasola said, “What we are doing here today is to create awareness for the rights that you have as a consumer. Don’t ever think or believe that you do not have anywhere to go when you have been cheated or your rights have been infringed upon.

“You buy something and they don’t give you enough change, it is very common in Nigeria, but is it very wrong. When your N5, N75 is with them. It happens a lot at the filling stations, supermarkets. It is your right to pay exactly what you have to pay but it is has become what we live with in Nigeria. It is not right. It is not normal.

To Mrs Sola Salako Ajulo, a consumer protection activist, every consumer has the right to complain and to be heard.

“You have right to complain. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to consumer information so that you know how to purchase whatever you need.

“As Nigerians, you have right to complain against any bus or Marwa that is not road worthy because such violates your right to safety. Any time, you buy any good and you later find out that it is fake but you believe you don’t have anywhere to go and complain, that is not true. You have place like Lagos State Consumers Protection agency to go to. ” she said.

While thanking Mrs Ajulo for her support and being a lone ranger standing with Nigerian consumers over the years, BJAN chairman, Mr. Goddie Ofose said journalists covering the brands and marketing also see it as a duty to make sure consumers are protected and given value for their money.

“We see it that as a body of journalists covering brands and marketing, it is our duty to also help consumers apart from reporting news and the analysis that we do, in our newspapers, radio and television as well as blogs, we also have the right to go out and create the awareness for consumers that they actually have rights.

“We have been doing this since 2013. We have always been doing it indoors, but this year, we felt we should also take the campaign to the average consumers on the streets.

“When we were walking from Ikeja to this point, a lot of people were looking at us and some of them were actually appreciating us for educating them about issues relating to consumers.

In his reaction to the LASCOPA boss address, Ofose urged the agency not to shy away in its responsibilities especially when it comes to helping consumers.

“We know that you have the capacity to help consumers. We know that unlike the status quo that we used to have that the consumer council is always there to fight for the rich, we believe that your agency is set up for the interest of the common man or the masses. We believe that we would get that from you.”

Frowning at what he called insensitivity of companies not treating consumers as kings, Ofose said he was surprised that unlike what happened recently when most companies were placing adverts in newspapers to celebrate women on international women’s day, none of them see it as priority in placing adverts to celebrate or appreciate the consumers.

“On Sunday, when I opened several newspapers, I saw that all the brands in this country from banks to telecoms, were all celebrating women’s day. But today being the most important day for the consumers that have kept them in business, none of them has been seen putting adverts to congratulate or salute the consumers.

“This is a message to all the brands to be aware that there is what is called International world consumers day. We want Nigerian consumers to be celebrated, respected and be treated well.” Ofose submitted.