Consumers Welcome to 2018…

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The year 2017 threw up a legion of evident consequences of the underlying intrigues that permeated every aspect of life in Nigeria. If we extricate the peculiarity of Nigerian wahala, the experiences were global; failing economies, uncertain political happenings, wars, and rumors of war, innovative technological advancement, aggravated nay misdirected scientific breakthroughs, manufacture of war machines and equipment of unprecedented destructive capacity…legion!

So, whereas the whole world welcomes the new year with a corporate sigh of relief, a mixture of hope and careful optimism, Nigerians are uniquely glad 2017 finally CAME TO PAST. How else do you explain the sudden industrial action by the Non-Academic Staff Of Nigerian Universities that abruptly ended academic and non-academic activities across federal Universities in the country? From no-where, the fuel pumps dried up the very week of Christmas.

As a section of the population concluded, it was all orchestrated to frustrate Christmas celebration…but it happened that the nation was thrown into a very difficult situation of no fuel.

Yet, life continued.

And the CONSUMERS…!

By our survey, less than 18% of brands in the FMCG segment invested in consumer loyalty reward, an age-old tradition characteristic of brand practices, instrumental in supporting that mutually-rewarding consumer-brand engagement ear-in-year-out; a corporate brand support initiative for which brands usually commit resources for its values. Consumers went through a grueling year-end experience, diminishing the emotional and commercial event rating for Christmas/new year season. Consumers in Nigeria will not forget 2017 in a hurry.

So, as an apart from global experience in the negative based on poor economic performance in the main; and in spite of the particularly further deepened harsh experience of Nigerians n reflection of the contribution of poor quality political leadership and less than impressive economic resource management, consumers in Nigeria had it worse…they even preyed on themselves. Somewhere in Gbagada, Lagos, I saw a horde of women who apparently have no critical need for petrol, mop-up a large portion of the stock in a particular fuel station, set up their own sales & distribution point right beside the exit gate of the station and started dispensing at the rate of N340 per liter (it later rose to N500, as I learnt).

In the dog-eat-dog world borne out of the bad experience, even consumers turned against themselves. But are we not all consumers? Is it not so bad that love took flight when we should cooperate to make us all happy? From institutions, brands/corporate persons, groups, and individuals to the two-member gang of the bus driver & conductor, we all feed on the weakness of the other. What came across as collaborate and collective self-destruction perfectly painted a picture of a jungle in the face of the failure of the political and economic system. How else do you explain a situation where the general public does not know the difference between Nigeria being in and out of recession? One can put a bet to say over 80% of educated Nigerians do not understand what recession means, in its entirety. The small site that knows and understands its technicality have been so unguarded in their engagements, they are already making the business of the general ignorance prevalent, to further impoverish the already compromised.

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So, MMM (whatever that means), came into the economic space, cleaned out on ignorant and hungry prey, closed the website and ended the story. We know that globally, e-commerce and money and capital markets are guided by strong institutional guidelines, which primary objective is to protect investors. These established rules are given to general application, but only to the extent regional and national political leadership can exert them for efficiency. It’s the extent of engagement and effectiveness is dependent on intellectual resource and capacity, leaving the world in-evenly protected, even though the infrastructure exists. We have always stated that governance in the modern global community is intellectually-driven, as against political patronage that throws up intellectually compromised politicians who are practically unfit to manage to make presence in the modern global market (global rating among nations is primarily based on economic power and resources, as against military might as in the past).

Whereas we identify with the technological innovation of the crypto-currency market and its promise of investors’ darling, many Nigerians across socio-economic groups today are hurrying into investor groups, and individually committing their resources into the new market without adequate knowledge and information on its veracity. As we read, billions of Nigeria has already been invested in that new market, from even the barely literate. As was with the MMM, Nigerian investors (CONSUMERS) are again left unprotected. According to global consumer rights protection standards, consumer information, enlightenment, and education (to ensure informed and profitable buying decision-making process is the duty and responsibility of every brand as an obligation, the right of the consumer and the duty of the relevant institution to uphold.

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Sadly, all of these expectations are failed and failing in Nigeria…partly because we are inadequately equipped, and partly because of wickedness; same reason fuel went scarce just before year-end, throwing us all into untold hardship; same unkind disposition behind brands’ unfriendly behavior towards consumers at year-end. One will not be too judgmental of the non-academic staff of Nigerian universities’ members for their present action, but if there was sufficient sense of responsibility, love, professionalism, intellectual ability, the system will not collapse as we have experienced.

So, the joyous welcoming Year-2018 was more particular to Nigerians and consumers in Nigeria!

In all, our experience and report should help stakeholders in CONSUMER RIGHTS PROTECTION set agenda for 2018 engagement. The stakes are high and the task is huge. We should begin to reshape the scope and dimension of consumer rights protection from the traditional base-level commercial environment of buying and selling fast-moving goods, to a more intellectually-engaging concern of global financial market regulation, technology-driven brand-consumer interests such as international trade system management, building enduring sophisticated institutions and legal infrastructures to effectively protect consumers in this market against compromises at the global markets, as evidence of Nigeria’s competitiveness among nations. The stakes are high; MMM should not see Nigeria as one enclave it can just come in a mop-up because our cyberspace is not adequately protected, our NEXIM Bank should be intellectually equipped enough to compete with global EXIMs and financial institutions to exert laws and authorities that will protect Nigeria and Nigerians.

We must begin to upgrade intellectual capabilities, close knowledge-gaps, align with global trade laws and institutions that will place us on the same pedestal for a more rewarding international trade and commerce as with developing nations, at least. We must grow capacity across politico socio-economic spheres for improved CONSUMER RIGHTS PROTECTION of Nigerians.

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Welcome to 2018.

 

Culled from: Guardian Nigeria

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