CONSUMERISM IN NIGERIA Dr. Anthony .A. Ijewere (senior lecturer) Department of Business Administration, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State and Stephen .O Obeki Abstract With high corn petition in the business world, manufacturers, marketers and service providers have been known to engage in several unethical, exploitative and misleading practices in their attempts to bedt competition, make profit and stay on in business. These bad practices have caused consumers not only their money but also their life in several cases, hence the birth of consumerism which is an attempt by the civil society to protect themselves against the unethical and bad practices of the manufacturers, marketers and service providers. In this research we examined the existence and the level of activity of consumerism in Nigeria using extant literature, and discovered that unlike what entails in the developed world, consumerism in Nigeria is still at its infancy, with the government and the civil society not doing enough to grow it to maturity. However, this study identfied those factors that are responsible for the slow growth and activity of consumerism in Nigeria and proffered solution. Key Words: Consumerism, consumer protection, unethical practices, consumer exploitation, legal redress. Introduction. Industrialization in many countries of the world as made possible by advanced technologies, especially in the manufacturing, communication and transportation sectors, has turned the world into a global village, thus making business to be more than ever before characterized by high competition among manufacturing and marketing organizations in jostling for consumer’s patronage and loyalty. With this high level of competition comes a major problem in the commercial transaction, which according to Agbonifoh, Ogwo, Nnolim and Nkamnebe (2007), “... is how to ensure fairness of both the buyer and the seller to each other”, as many business organizations have been found to engage in dubious and exploitative practices just to make sales, declare huge profit, beat competition and stay on in business. According to Agbonifoh et al (2007), “the issue of misleading and untruthful advertising is a serious one particularly in a highly illiterate society such as we have in Nigeria.” Hence, consumers, government and nongovernment organizations advocate and insist on best and ethical practices in the business relationship between buyers and sellers. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR, 2009), a body that supervises all activities in petroleum operations and oversees the marketing of petroleum products in Nigeria revealed that many oil marketers in Nigeria were found to have tampered with their pumps, dispensing lower value of premium motor spirit (PMS) to their customers. In a report by the Department, following the inspection exercise it carried out in the Lekki area of Lagos in 2009, customers lose 1.2 litres of PMS in every 10 litres of the product bought in Conoil, 0.8 litres in Oando, and 0.6 litres in Texaco. These sharp practices are evident in several spheres of the Nigerian business landscape, from pharmaceutical products to spare parts of automobiles. According to Omenazu (2010), “the Nigerian consumer remains one of the most exploited in the global village.” Hence
JORIND 9(2) December, 2011. ISSN 1596 – 8308. www.transcampus.org., www.ajol.info/journals/jorind
the protection of consumers against the exploitation and other excesses of producers and marketers form the crux of consumer movement or consumerism, worldwide. With this background problem, this research has as its objectives: 1. 1) To examine the existence and the level of activity of Consumerism in Nigeria in relation to developed countries. 2. 2) To identify the way (if any) by which the Nigerian government and the civil society have attempted to protect the interests of...