As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate 2021 World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) Nigerian Communications Commission has reiterated its commitment towards providing accurate, adequate and timely information and education that enables the consumer to take informed decisions and feel protected.
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta who made the indication while addressing a World Press Conference in commemoration of the 2021 World Consumer Rights Dayreassured that all activities of the Commission are designed to give assurance to the consumers that their interests are of paramount importance to the Commission.
“This is because without the telecom consumers, there will be no telecom operators and there would be no regulator. Therefore, we seize this opportunity to assure millions of telecom consumers across the country that the Commission will not rest on its oars until the challenges of telecoms consumers have been reduced to the barest minimum”.
Danbatta said the Management of the Commission also takes consumer information and education very seriously, as the commission recently, approved the re-structuring of its legacy consumer outreach and engagement programmes.
“These modifications were made to increase our reach to telecom consumers wherever they are while also observing COVID-19 protocols”.
Some of the new information and education programmes include:
• Telecom Town Halls on Radio, a phone-in dialogic programme to be hosted via radio stations across the country where consumers at the grassroots level will be engaged in their own local language;
• Telecom and The Citizen – a biweekly Twitter Live Chat targeting social media users;• Telecom TV Dialogue – a monthly television-based discourse on topical telecom issues; and
• Telecom Consumer Conversations – which is segmented and targeted at different consumer groups including: The Village Square Dialogue, The Telecom Public Sphere, The Professionals’ Dialogue, Campus Conversation, Market Conversation and the NYSC Conversation.
“The flagship outreach programme, Telecom Consumer Parliament, is still up and running. Similarly, other Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials like digital banners and factsheets in bookmarks format, have been remodeled in a way that deliver lasting value to the consumers”.
“Today, and right here, we are unveiling a new Consumer Handbook – a compendium of consumer information materials compiled to enhance education and protection of the consumer”.
In keeping with global best practice of digital public communication for information and complaints management, the Commission continued to leverage social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, to inform and educate consumers and to use them as complaints channels for the Commission.
In addition, the NCC Consumer Web Portal serves as an alternative online channel for lodging complaints and making enquiries.
According to the EVC, “the specially created toll free number 622 and DND short code 2442, are as active as ever. They are emplaced respectively to enable consumers to escalate unresolved complaints earlier reported to service providers, and to manage unsolicited messages. Just last month, we provided evidence that “NCC’s DND crashes unsolicited SMS by 96.6% in three years”.
He explained that the Commission has ensured full compliance with Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards registration guidelines by the service providers and telecom consumers.
“This is to ensure proper registration to stop the use of improperly-registered SIMs, which usage is difficult to track. Having a credible subscriber database helps in tracing a SIM card to the real owner in case of any criminal investigation.
This will help in curbing the painful rise in tempo of kidnapping, robberies, banditry and similar crimes committed with the aid of the use of SIM cards”.
“We have made arrests and prosecutions in the past in this regard and through this effort, we have been able to sanitize the telecoms ecosystem of improperly-registered SIM cards that pose threat to national security. It is therefore pertinent to say that the linking of SIM and National Identity Number (NIN) database will further help us in this direction toward protecting the consumers and all citizens at large. In this regard, the Commission wishes to echo the voice of Mr. President by thanking all telecom subscribers for their understanding and co-operation in the ongoing SIM-NIN harmonization exercise”.
“The Commission has issued a number of Directions to service providers in order to ensure consumers are not shortchanged by telecom service providers. Some of the directions include: Direction on Do-Not-Disturb, Direction on Data Roll-Over, Direction on Automatic Renewal of Data Services, and Direction on Forceful Subscription to Data Services and Value-Added Services”. He noted.