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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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The Military Is Paying Today For Undermining The Police Yesterday By Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

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It is an oft-repeated assertion and is certainly true that the Nigerian military is overstretched and overwhelmed because the Nigerian Police is not pulling its weight.

The Police Force has been so debased that, as we have seen in recent attacks against police formations in the country, it does not have the aptitude to protect itself, not to talk of protecting the rest of us. What has not been talked about is how exactly we got here and how we could escape this god-awful situation.

Some military generals last week during a ‘Conference of State and Civil Society Actors on the Intersection of National Security and the Civic Space in Nigeria,’ organised by WISER and OSIWA at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, touched on some of these issues with tender hands in velvet gloves.

It really was interesting listening to these soldiers speak about their relationship with the rest of the country. What comes through is a certain superciliousness about their standing in the scheme of things and a certain scorn about the standing of other demographics, such as the civilian population and especially civil society organisations. But perhaps no demographic is at the butt of this condescension like the Nigerian Police. What was even more painful to watch was the military’s failings to see the correlation between its actions over the years, the near-collapse of the Nigerian Police Force and the current entanglement Nigeria finds itself in.

At no point was this more glaring than during the comment session when a General blamed the civilian population for the persistence of Boko Haram in fermenting trouble in the country. With as much disdain as propriety would allow, he posed some rhetorical questions:

“Who gives Boko Haram food? Who gives them money?”

Valid questions by all considerations but inherently flawed. Flawed because they wilfully failed to take into consideration that the villagers, faced with an armed horde of murderous terrorists, and with no protection from the state, would be unqualified idiots not to comply with the demands of men with blood in their eyes pointing guns at them.

The most pertinent question this General failed to ask, out of mischief or a skewed perspective, is; who gives Boko Haram the weapons they use to massacre civilians and decimate Nigerian troops considering that a good percentage of the weapons the terrorists use today were seized from the Nigerian Army?

A lot has been said about the loss of a number of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, acquired at great cost and trouble, to Boko Haram, which the insurgents used to attack the military super camp in Mainok recently.

Conveniently, this General failed to explain how armed soldiers continue to lose military equipment to Boko Haram and expected unarmed, defenceless civilians not to surrender their food and possessions to the terrorists.

It was unfortunately the same attitude the military brought to its assessment of the problems created by Nigeria’s abysmal policing situation.

In his submission, for instance, one of the panellists, Maj. General EG Ode (rtd), spoke about how the failure of the police to perform its duties has forced the military into the civil space to engage in civil protection, which they are untrained for. Brig. General Saleh Bala (rtd), President of WISER, during my interview with him recently, captured this succinctly: “What business does an air force personnel have on an AMAC task force chasing vendors off the street?” he asked.

Today, the Nigerian military is involved in about 40 operations spread across the country primarily to secure civil spaces, mounting checkpoints and dealing with criminal elements the police should have been dealing with. What the military brings to these operations is their peculiar mindset. Armed with a hammer, everything does look like a nail to it. Thus, an out-of-school boy caught hawking sachet water on the street and a robber are often given a similar treatment.

But why did the police collapse so woefully that they now need the military to prop them up by taking part of the burden off them? The answer has everything to do with the military.

In the 1960s, the Nigerian Police was quite professional with the inherent efficiency of their colonial role models. When the military first inserted itself in the civil arena by overthrowing a democratically elected government in January 1966, the police investigation into the incidents of that night of January 15 remains until today a thing of pride.

But that moment that should have been the police’s finest hour also happened to be the death knell of the force.

First, the intrusion of the military in the civil space, its imposition and enforcement of curfews by itself relegated the police to a secondary force in their main area of operation. To consolidate their hold on power, soldiers patrolled the streets, controlled traffic, and terrified the populace into submission and compliance. They succeeded in emasculating not only the civilian populace but also the police who have to surrender their roles to the military.

In the first 13 years of uninterrupted military rule between 1966 and 1979, and the second stretch of military rule between 1983 and 1999, the police, stripped of their primary roles, became complacent and lost a lot of capacity. Police diligence made way for the crude efficiency of the military, who took over not only the government but also the civil space, shoving the police onto the kerb, reducing them to no more bystanders in the Nigerian State than the civilian population. The police suffered the neglect that would today render it the weightless husk it has become. Of course, in this state, mercantile police officers developed a comprehensive system of further undermining the force for personal gains as amply demonstrated by former police boss, Tafa Balogun’s car farm and massive loot.

It has been two decades since the return of civil rule. Enough time perhaps for the police to regain its mojo. But the lingering tragedy of Nigeria’s convoluted yet hasty return to democracy is the failure of various military regimes in their transition plans to account for the rebuild of the Police Force expected to fill in the gap that the withdrawal of the military from public space would create. The focus at the time was rebuilding a political culture without any thought to resuscitating the custodians of law and order.

And sadly, since the military withdrew from power, there has not been a deliberate effort to empower the police and restore professionalism within its ranks. Therefore, Nigeria has continued to trundle from one disaster to another starting from the civil unrests of the OPC in the South West, the Sharia riots in the North and the secessionists’ agitations in the South East and inevitably to Boko Haram, banditry, communal clashes, kidnappings and the total chaos we are in now.

So if today the police have remained incompetent, understaffed and lacking capacity and the military has to be called in to every village, every market and every traffic gridlock to deal with the situation while also fighting Boko Haram, it is only logical they would be asked to help fill a vacuum they themselves helped to create. Logical only in the sense of it being a short-term solution. But this country has a penchant for making short-term solutions everlasting.

Solving this problem is not rocket science. It is inconceivable to say Nigeria does not have the resources to rebuild the police, recruit and train a significant number of officers in instalments over years, create, train, equip and deploy Special Forces to deal with specific security challenges the country faces. One only needs to look at how much is frittered away in maintaining the political class and their various appendages who have now commandeered over half of what is left of the police force for their personal protection and bag-carrying duties at the expense of the rest of us.

With an army of unemployed youths eager for work, it is obvious that the only thing stopping the rebuild of the police is simply a chronic shortage of political will and long term planning.

 

Eid Mubarak! May Allah keep you all and your loved ones safe.

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Alhaji Alhaji ,Convener Igala In Focus Sue For Peace Among Igala Race,Felicitates With Muslims.

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Convener and coordinator Igala in focus,a WhatsApp platform that discuss the socio-economic and political developement of Igala nation,Kogi state in general,Alhaji Alhaji has enjoined the people of the area not allow their differences overrides the overall interest of the race.

He made this statement in his Sallah message to the people of Kogi east advising all and sundry to imbibe peace,and collective bargaining for the progress of the area.

The convener stressed the need to learn from the lessons of the holy month that preaches patience,love,kindness,tolerance, forgiveness and peaceful co-existence among mortals.

He advised the people of Kogi east to form a quorum to dare the next political dispensation and not to allow differences that can be resolved over shadow the interest of the race.

He said the area had learnt a lot from the political downturn in the last few years and paid dearly for it,saying the need to retrace our step is sancrosanct.

The coordinator congratulated the people of the area,Kogi state for witnessing this year’s event,and prayed for more years on the surface of earth.

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Eid Al-Fitr: Natasha Akpoti Felicitates with Muslim Faithfuls

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As muslim faithfuls all over the world marks this year’s end of ramadan fasting with eid al-fitr celebration, the former governorship candidate of the social democratic party in Kogi State, Barr.

Natasha Hadiza Akpoti felicitates with them on this special occasion.

Akpoti in her message, urged Muslims all over Nigeria to use this special occasion to seek for devine intervention on the deplorable security situation of the country while preaching unity and tolerance among faiths.

“I felicitate with our Muslim brothers and sisters in Nigeria and all over the world on the occasion of eid al-fitr which marks the end of ramadan fasting. Let us use this special occasion to pray for God’s intervention on the deplorable state of our nation while ensuring unity and tolerance among different faiths.

May Allah bless our homes and nation with happiness, peace and prosperity on this special occasion. Happy eid al-fitr!.” Akpoti said.

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