NCC Commemorates World Consumer Rights Day, Highlights Consumer’s Vital Role in Business Operations

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The Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Aminu Maida, has lauded the celebration of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day, saying that consumers are the most important part of any business.

He also emphasised that the protection of the consumer is equally of utmost importance.

Celebrated March 15 every year, Maida said the consumer rights day is usually to raise awareness about the right of consumers worldwide, while also protecting them from unfair trade practices.

Represented at the occasion by the NCC Executive Commissioner, Technical Services Designate, Engr. Abraham Oshadami, the executive vice chairman traced the history of the World Consumer Rights Day to 1962 with the introduction of four basic consumer rights by President John F. Kennedy in his speech to the United States Congress

These rights, he said included the right to safely, right to be informed, right to choose and right to be heard.

Maida said in consistent with the above rights, the NCC has over the years, kept faith with these to highlight the important position the telecom consumers occupy in the telecommunications ecosystem in Nigeria in order to uphold the rights of the consumers that have evolved over the years even with additional rights like the right to privacy, right to quality of service, among others.

In alignment with the global trend, Maida said the Commission has adopted the theme of this year’s edition as; “Fair and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the Consumers.”

He described AI as a phenomenon that has captured the imagination of scientists, engineers and thinkers for decades. He said it represents the culmination of human innovation and the quest to create machines that can mimic human intelligence and problem-solving capabilities.

He also admitted that AI has made significant inroads into our lives.- from voice assistants that respond to our commands to recommendation algorithms that suggests what we should watch, read or buy, he said AI is actually all around us and that it is driving innovations in healthcare, finance and transportation and in countless other fields.

Maida maintains that in a bold stride towards embracing the digital era and fortifying communication networks, the Commission orchestrated a groundbreaking endeavor to usher Nigeria into the forefront of 5G technology. With transparency as their beacon, they orchestrated not one, but two globally renowned auctions. The first, a milestone marked on December 13th, 2021, laid the foundation. Then, on December 5th, 2022, they forged ahead, casting the spotlight on Nigeria once more. This saga of innovation and progress exemplifies a commitment to empowering citizens with unparalleled connectivity and fostering a vibrant global community.

In the thrilling saga of telecom auctions, the spotlight shone brightly on MTN and MAFAB as they clinched victory in the inaugural bidding war. Amidst the electrifying atmosphere, Airtel Networks Nigeria stood alone, bold and unwavering, claiming triumph as the sole bidder in the subsequent auction. The stage was set, bids were cast, and in the end, each player carved their own path to success in the dynamic landscape of telecommunications

Maida who believes that in the vast expanse of Nigeria’s digital landscape, a new era dawned with the arrival of 5G service providers. Like cosmic pioneers, they ignited a spark that fueled a constellation of AI systems and services across the nation. Guiding this celestial dance was the Commission, a vigilant guardian, ensuring this technological odyssey traversed the right trajectory. With each digital leap, they sculpted a path that not only delighted consumers with unparalleled satisfaction but also nurtured the fertile grounds for economic prosperity to blossom. Together, they embarked on a journey where innovation intertwined with consumer delight, painting the skies with the hues of progress and promise.

In the vast landscape of technological evolution, the dance between regulation and innovation unfolds with intricate complexity. As the relentless march of progress propels us into the realm of AI and IoT cybersecurity, the challenge of crafting regulations becomes a high-stakes game of catch-up. Every legislative and governing body strives to harness the potential of AI while taming its inherent risks, yet the elusive balance between innovation and control remains a perpetual struggle.

Amidst this tumultuous landscape, a beacon of hope emerges in the form of the Quadruple Helix Innovation model, where academia, industry, government, and society converge in a harmonious symphony of collaboration. It is within this nexus of minds that the seeds of transformative ideas are sown, nurtured by the collective wisdom of diverse perspectives.

In this era of boundless possibilities, AI developers and regulators alike find themselves navigating uncharted ethical waters, where inclusivity and integrity reign supreme. The algorithms that power our AI systems must not only be efficient and effective but also imbued with the principles of ethics and fairness, ensuring that the fruits of innovation are shared equitably among all members of society.

As the narrative of regulation and innovation unfolds, one truth remains evident: the path towards a secure and trustworthy AI future cannot be traversed alone. It is solely through the collaborative endeavors of all stakeholders, bound by a common vision of progress, that we can confront the challenges ahead and inaugurate a new era of technological enlightenment.

In a grand symphony of consumer advocacy, the Commission unfurls its banner of commitment to safeguarding the telecom consumer. With proactive zeal, we have forged an arsenal of consumer-centric initiatives, akin to a knight’s weaponry, poised to confront the initial onslaught of grievances.

Witness the Consumer Complaints Management (CCM) fortress, where myriad channels beckon troubled souls to seek solace in resolution. Amidst the digital labyrinth, a beacon of hope illuminates: the NCC Toll-free line 622, a lifeline open from dawn till dusk, except on sacred Sundays and Holidays.

Fear not, for the dragons of unsolicited messages shall trouble thee no more! With the mystical invocation of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) Code 2442, the deluge of unwanted missives shall be banished to the abyss whence they came.

Venture forth into the digital domain, where the Consumer Portal – stands as a bastion of enlightenment, guiding weary travelers towards resolution. And behold the Commission Consumer X account @Consumersncc, a sanctuary where voices unite, echoing the clarion call for justice.

In this tale of consumer empowerment, let us march hand in hand, for the Commission’s shield of protection shall never falter, ensuring the telecom consumer’s pursuit of equity and tranquility.

Maida articulated amidst the jubilant commemoration of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2024, the Commission declares its unwavering stance: this year’s theme seamlessly aligns with its mission. With AI as the vanguard shaping our future, its potential for societal advancement is undeniable yet necessitates a nuanced approach. Under the banner of Protect, Inform, and Educate (PIE Mandate), the telecom consumer remains the focal point of our commitment. As AI progresses, innovation must harmonize with the preservation of consumer rights, principles, and dignity, forging a path where advancement and protection stride hand in hand.

In his inaugural address at the event, NCC Deputy Director, Consumer Bureau, Mr. Clem Omile, emphasized the paramount importance of consumers in business.

On March 15th, the global stage shines brightly on consumers as World Consumer Rights Day cascades across nations. It’s a day imbued with purpose, where the fabric of consumer rights is unfurled, safeguarding against exploitation, discrimination, and the shadows of unfair practices.

Omile underscores that in this annual symphony of advocacy, the chorus of voices crescendos, emphasizing the significance of safeguarding those who wield the power of choice. From the bustling streets of urban centers to the serene corners of rural landscapes, the refrain echoes: consumers matter.

He elucidated that amidst the whirlwind of modern life, this day serves as a guiding light, steering consumers through the maze of products and services, reminding them of their inherent rights and the duty to demand fairness.

So, on this day, let us raise our voices in harmony, celebrating the essence of consumerism, for in protecting consumers, we safeguard the very essence of our economies and societies.

Embedded within the timeless wisdom of Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” is the profound proclamation that the pulse of all production and services reverberates to the beat of consumption. He articulates that the ultimate goal of any enterprise, whether crafting goods or providing services, is to fulfill the desires and necessities of consumers. Hence, the alignment of interests between producers and service providers should seamlessly intertwine with the noble objective of enhancing consumer welfare.

In the realm of commerce, John Wanamaker, once revered as the American Postmaster General and Advertising Luminary, fervently extolled the paramount importance of the Consumer with his enduring declaration, “Customer is King.” Within the esteemed corridors of the NCC, Telecom consumers reign supreme, as they not only constitute the pulsating heart but also the very essence that drives and animates our endeavors with purpose and vitality.

Moreover, within the dynamic landscape of telecommunications, consumers ascend to sovereignty, and the Commission stands resolute in its pledge to advocate for their rights. Through innovative initiatives, we pledge to safeguard consumer interests and cultivate a culture of empowerment. Consumer education emerges as a potent instrument in this pursuit, galvanizing our engagement with the public through diverse platforms. From the lively Telecom Consumer Parliament to the illuminating Telecom Consumer Conversations, from the bustling Village Square Dialogues to the enlightening Campus Conversations, and extending even to grassroots efforts such as NYSC Camp Sensitization and Town Hall on Radio sessions, we embark on a voyage of dialogue, comprehension, and empowerment, ensuring that every voice resonates and every right is upheld in the expansive realm of telecommunications.

In a revolutionary stride towards inclusivity, our dedication to accessibility transcends boundaries. Not only have we unveiled the Telecom Consumer Handbook, an embodiment of consumer rights, but we have also ensured that even individuals with visual impairments can access its wealth of information through a meticulously transcribed Braille edition.

The Commission stands on the brink of revolutionizing consumer advocacy with the imminent launch of the Automated Consumer Complaints Management system. This state-of-the-art innovation will not only expand the avenues for lodging complaints but also streamline the resolution process, ensuring swift and effective redressals, even at the initial level with service providers. From empowering the visually impaired to spearheading seamless consumer advocacy, we are forging a path toward a more inclusive and responsive telecommunications landscape.

Omile concludes by stating that within the bustling halls of the Commission’s headquarters, a tacit acknowledgment reverberated: without the Consumers, the very heartbeat of the telecommunications industry would dwindle into silence. Thus, akin to guardians of a vital flame, the Commission pledges unwavering allegiance to those who fuel the network’s lifeblood. For in their hands lies not merely devices, but the power to mold the digital realm itself.

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