FCCPC:Nigeria Needs More of Bababtunde Irukera-Abdulraman Ibrahim..

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When all sectors of the Nigerian Economy, National Commissions and Agencies are practically lagging or better put, failing, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC under the watch and leadership of Barrister Babatunde Irukera has continued to thrive in achieving daily milestones. This makes many wonder the manner of intellectual competence dissipated by Irukera that distinguished him and distinguished the agency he oversees.

Babatunde Irukera as the Chief Executive of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC (formerly Consumer Protection Council), began to chair the operationalisation of the Commission when the government enacted Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act in January 30, 2019. He oversees the daily management and leadership of the Commission in fulfilling its responsibilities of market promotion, competition, protection of consumers and securing remedies when consumer rights are violated.

As aptly put by the commission, ‘his record of advocacy and representation in competition and consumers’ issues is exceptional and provides the clarity that both the Commission and industry need in addressing issues of customer service/protection, promoting a level playing field in the Nigerian marketplace, and ensuring regulatory stability. He has been in active legal practice for almost three decades. His varied experience ranges from being In-house Counsel to General Counsel, Managing Partner in a law firm, and advising senior government officials as well as key government institutions. Over this diverse career, Babatunde gained considerable experience in transactions, civil rights and commercial litigation, regulatory work, government relations and practice management.’

When Pharmacist Dora Akunyili died, we lost hope of having someone that could fill the vacuum created in Nigeria. Only then Barrister Babatunde Irukera surfaced and was appointed Director General of the Consumer Protection Council. The Council of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) hailed the appointment of one of its members as the new Director General (DG) of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) looking through the pedigrees and impeccable track records of Irukera.

It is a development we thought was a mere demonstration of comradeship with the esprit de corps, because the CPC itself was a mere shadow of itself, a mere appendix of ministry of commerce. CPC as it was called wasn’t known to be effective. It lacked necessary venom to invoke fears in the minds of those intimidating and directly taking advantages of the fact that most Nigerian consumers don’t even know their rights because of lack of necessary awareness.

Irukera, who is also the Chair of the Consumer Protection and Competition Law Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL), replaced Dupe Atoki at the Council and assumed office in April. He instilled new spirit into the organization so many of us considered to be in comatose.

Babatunde Irukera faces oozes but with humility, modesty, patriotism and a deep concern for the present and future of this beautiful country. In a brief interaction with Babatunde Irukera as a man of wealthy experiences, he admitted that sovereignty belongs to the people, hence for the CPC to be more effective, it needs necessary ingredients which include remodeling and more power from the people through their representatives. That led to his aggressive push for remodeling which led to the introduction of a codified set of competition rules into Nigeria’s regulatory oversight framework which came as a long anticipated change, to ensure that market distortions across all sectors are minimized and rules of fair play are respected in the market place.

Nigeria is one country that is dominated with substandard goods and or services. Unfortunately, it’s something which every customer will have to go through at some point in time. Now, while the law in Nigeria might not be able to prevent it from happening, it can however provide recourse for you and a way to air your grievance and potentially get compensated whenever this occurs.

Unlike the defunct CPC, the FCCPC’s oversight extends beyond just consumer protection issues, and covers all entities in Nigeria – whether they are engaged in commercial activities as corporate bodies, or as government agencies and bodies. This Act is poised to introduce ground breaking changes into the Nigerian regulatory regime.

Therefore, specific body like FCCPC as an agency of the Government under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment is set up to help consumers deal with issues where companies have either provided poor service or they have sold substandard goods to the consumer.

Today, I can boldly beat my chest to declare that FCCPC under Babatunde Irukera is one of the visible and vibrant government agencies that boldly communicates the exact languages the sellers and consumer understand. It’s the only agency currently living up-to it’s expectations.

Peeping into some of the remarkable astute moves of Babatunde Irukera in repositioning FCCPC, one would see uncommon display of wisdom and application of inter discipline knowledge.

In addition to recommending, initiating and enforcing several professional policies and regulations, it is noted that Krispy Kreme, a company which was suspended after it was discovered that it was using expired raw materials to produce its doughnuts. The regulator says that the operator changed the “use by” date on the raw material to “best before” date, without NAFDAC safety approval.

That was not the first time the CPC under Babatunde Irukera would come to the rescue of consumers. Sometime in 2019, it was reported that Rice depot stores and Warehouses were shut down for selling substandard bags of rice in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. While the stores and the warehouses were closed, the perpetuators were brought to book for selling harmful products to unsuspecting consumers and putting the lives of customers at harmful health risks. Similarly, the agency was also reported to have carried out an unscheduled spot inspection at the production facilities of Caraway Africa Limited (makers of FreshYo Yoghurt) and FrieslandCampina (makers of Peak Milk).

His recent contributions like POS charges reduction and other consumer right protection interventions are too numerous to mention. His consistent intervention on substandard drugs dealing and violation of consumer rights like the one that took place in Lagos recently are remarkable,

Currently FCCPC Under Babatunde Irukera, CEO, FCCPC, prosecuting of H-Medix, Faxx Stores, Ebeano Supermarket & Bakan Gizo Pharmacy over alleged price gouging such a big and giant supermarkets/pharmacies at FHC, Abuja, over alleged price gouging, with the Irukera himself leading the legal team, to show the seriousness of the case

Just this month he also received EXCO members of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Abuja, on a courtesy visit, this solidarity visits aiming at enjoying synergy between a powerful union body in our health sector and FCCPC.

Seeking synergy between NAICOM & FCCPC Inter- Regulatory leadership to advance complaints by insurance policy holders, new coverage products for fleet operators & seamless merger review for insurance sector consolidation of carriers, this is not just unique but capable of addressing some notable challenges in that sector.

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection (FCCPC) has promised to Partner Standard Organization Of Nigeria(SON), National Agency For Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), against price gouging, this marriage is worthy of celebration, closing the gap between the various agencies and parastatals of government aiming the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection (FCCPC) Partnership with Standard Organization Of Nigeria(SON) and National Agency For Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), against price gouging. at promoting the consumers interest, indeed, is applaudable and must be encourage by various stake holders.

A German news magazine, Spiegel, wrote this about Irukera “there are days when Babatunde Irukera feels like nothing can go wrong — not with the evidence that he has gathered, the letters, reports, protocols and all the witnesses. On days like this he believes that, after 11 long years, justice can finally be served for the children of Kano, for his homeland Nigeria, and for Africa.” No doubt, if Nigeria could replicate Irukera in most agencies and political offices, we would mature into a developed nation very quickly. It’s a thing of joy for such a man to have hailed from Kogi State. It holds that there is hope for the people of Kogi and Nigeria at large with such an uncommon man living with us.

Abdulraman Ibrahim,
Journalist and Social Commentator Written from
Kaduna.

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