The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has organised its 21st edition of Consumer Town Hall Meeting (CTM) at the Ayo Kehinde multi-purpose Hall at Bukuru, Jos, Plateau state.
Mr. Abayomi Olawoyin of the Initiative for the Support of Consumer Rights of the NCC, while speaking on the occasion called on telecommunications service providers to shun ambiguity in their information to consumers.
Olawoyin also added that the service providers should stop engaging in the use of complex language but should use plain language that the consumers can easily understand.
“We want clear information that people will understand. We don’t want ambiguity. Plain language is the word, which consumers can understand without any stress,” he said.
Dr. Atoyebi Joseph, Deputy Director of NCC, said the essence of the meeting in Jos was to enlighten telecom subscribers on their rights and responsibilities.
Joseph added that the commission wanted the consumers not only to know their rights but to also appreciate their own responsibilities to the industry.
He said: “NCC has been holding consultation meetings with stakeholders on all burning and contemporary issues with a view to addressing them. Some of the policies rolled out by the commission actually came from interactive fora like this, because we take everything here, the proceedings, back home as a feedback and review them and escalate to management through which policies now come out to address issues. So, it is like an input into the efforts the commission is making to make sure we really feel the pulse of the consumers and through which we now come out with policies and initiatives that will address the concerns“.
Joseph also addressed the issue of unsolicited text messages, saying that NCC was not soft on the matter.
He said: “If I may just tell you straight away, the world has become a global village. Regulating telecom in you domain, yes; but to regulate internet across the globe is problematic. Some of these messages come directly from other sources aside from the service providers and which is a fact of today’s technology.
“So, part of what the commission has done is to enforce this ‘Don’t Disturb Me’ and I have the option to stop it. If it is partial DND or full DND, I have the option to take. The commission has done that. The commission has also licensed infrastructure companies to boost the level of infrastructure provisions in the telecom industry in Nigeria. The commission is not sleeping over any issue. In fact, we are on top of it at any time of the day. If you go to our website, you see so many things and other policies, initiatives that the commission has put out to regulate the industry. Regulation is continuous; it is ongoing. It is never final because issues come every now and then and as they come, they are tackled”.
“Because as at today, nobody is regulating internet, but we regulate the services within our domain. If you don’t want any message, you stop it through DND (Do Not Disturb) and send ‘STOP’ to 2442 and it stops.“
Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau of NCC, Alhaji Abdullahi Maikano, said the event sought to educate telecom consumers and other stakeholders on contemporary issues generating interest in the industry.
He also stressed that it was also a feedback mechanism for the commission in making regulatory intervention for the benefit of the consumers and the service providers as well as the industry as a whole.
Maikano also mentioned that the consumers are the target beneficiaries of NCC’s activities where they enjoy primary focus in terms of ensuring that they get good quality of service, value for money spent, timely and fair redress of complaints and protection from unwholesome practices of some service providers.
The general theme for discussion was ‘Information and Education as a Catalyst for Consumer Protection,’ which he said was a topic carefully chosen to reflect one of the cardinal objectives of NCC in ensuring the protection of telecom consumers from market exploitation and empowering them to make rational and informed decisions, when making their choices of services.
According to him, “Consumer education is identified by the commission as one of the most cost effective mechanisms that provides and guarantees consumer protection. Besides serving as a pro-active way of protecting consumers from making wrong choices, it also serves as a preventive measure that protects consumers from being exploited and being defrauded.”
Maikano further stated, “These rights include but not limited to the right to receive correct information on services they subscribed to; information provided should be clear, complete, and accurate and in a language that will be understood. This will guide them to make informed decisions when making their choices. Give consumers the choice of receiving information in a language they can understand“.