Wednesday, 18 May, 2022

thenewnigerian

Going the extra mile for consumers in Nigeria – Irukera


Exemplary leadership is found, harnessed, and revealed when the integrity of an individual is tried, tested, packaged, and rollout out for people to aspire to follow. In most cases in Nigeria, we struggle to fill the void and or fall short in ticking all the competency boxes of some individuals we put in places of authority when it comes to leadership integrity, other times politics and politicking rob us of these individuals almost masking it like they do not exist. But this is not the case with Mr. Babatunde Irukera.

Babatunde Irukera is the Chief Executive of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC (formerly Consumer Protection Council). He started overseeing the transition and operationalisation of the Commission since January 30, 2019, when the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act was enacted. He is responsible for the daily management and leadership of the Commission in fulfilling its mandate to promote market competition, protect consumers, and secure remedies when consumer rights are violated. 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 inactive 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.

If there’s one thing Babatunde Irukera has taken to the next level via his role in Nigeria today, it is the communication he has directly with the consumers by enforcing, championing, and enhancing their rights.

Mr Babatunde Irukera is committed to making Nigeria better. He has demonstrated this with the platform given to him and has made the council relevant, as many put it, he is a bright star on the horizon and the clouds will clear to reveal him soonest.

As many know the fight against price gouging or excessive pricing is a tough battle in Nigeria as consumers are now fighting back and demanding value for money and are calling out poor services Mr. Babatunde is seen as a true leader to assist in standardising the quality of service. Many of this outburst of concerns and demand for quality can be attributed to the standards enforced by the dynamic Irukera whose methods of addressing businesses that don’t want to behave right has been a bright light in the void of poor consumer standards. Apparently just a mention of reporting rogue traders to him and his team via social media can cause a shift in paradigm.

Many would argue that the last time Nigerians felt so important or entitled to be treated right was under Dora Akunyili who did a great job with our food and drug standards and this is remarkable from Babatunde in comparison. But there is a new sheriff who is doing it on a larger scale, whether food, drugs, telecoms, banking, even with employers, all road leads to the conformity of standards under his watch.

An excited Nigerian reveals, “this is how a country should work. I am grateful for FCCPC and Babatunde Irukera. These times in Nigeria and under Covid19 is a bad time. It’s a time where a lot of people are struggling with depression and many feel worthless, uncared for, unimportant, and unrecognised. I cannot imagine if Nigeria did not have the FCCPC or Babatunde Irukera right now. There are still so many unsolved cases. We have even become so entitled we now complain that FCCPC has not responded or solved a case. We don’t even remember just a few years ago when there was nobody to go to. All we had were consolation prayers like “God dey”, “God will judge us”, “my God will fight for me”. God is judging and fighting for us. He has sent FCCPC as the instrument to fight our battles as consumers.

Babatunde Irukera and the FCCPC are going the “Extra Mile” for us all and it is only befitting to sound a word of praise to him and his team for letting us know that when we are not treated right, it is not normal and it is not the customer’s fault but the falt of those who offer bad service. What the FCCPC is championing under his leadership is priceless and they do it by going the extra mile. Thousands have commended him for his strides in the protection of consumers’ rights leaving others wondering if we could have many more like this across others facets of governance in Nigeria, sighting his as an instrument of transformational leadership

Several people over social media who have testified to his brilliance also indicate that they have seen him go emotional during events when talking about how consumers are being maltreated and others can testify to his sadness on how retailers and sellers are sometimes maltreated. One of the key things that he has made a core mandate is to enforce the rights of every consumer! “Cheating others has become a game, and any argument against it is lame he said. My role and investigations make me know some of their names, so I know we have confused notoriety for fame. Business is for profit, but profiteering is not business. Margin is associated with what we have come to understand and expect as an acceptable difference that translates to reasonable profit for which we commend businesses, for their dexterity, and at the same time contributions to society. But the concept and history of the word margin are steeped in what is considered slim, narrow, fiat, certainly not inordinately wide, almost incomprehensible, and certainly questionable. So you can understand when in the course of consumer protection and addressing price gouging, I discovered that a 60% margin is when business is “bad” in Nigeria. 80-90% is not encouraging or outstanding, 100% is remarkable and above 200% is commendable. In the past months of enforcing laws against price gouging seeing margins from 140% to over 300% is no longer a jaw-dropping outrage to me anymore. It is not something remarkable at all. Things have to change and fast for a better Nigeria.

To imagine that retail prices of Hydroxychloroquine at most pharmacies in U.S for instance is an average of $25-40 (NGN11,250-NGN18,000); and when extremely expensive, approximately $50 (NGN 22500), while in Nigeria, what see is between NGN50,000 and NGN75,000. At some point, we must hold each other accountable, and not just look to the government for appropriate behavior. I rest again tonight exhausted but not tired of the toil, and with a resolve that sleeping now is only to occupy the time between now and tomorrow when we get back on the block and continue the fight we know- the fight that people be treated fairly – Mr. Irukera said.

The services you pay for, are not favours. Service providers and those who sell things to you owe you an obligation. History tells us that the strongest mechanism for regards to our rights is for you to demand those rights and insist on them. “Indeed, our legacies are defined far more by lives touched than lifestyles. No matter how strong the foundations of our properties are, what we build in people are far more enduring than what we build on the land.

Those we build, tower higher than skyscrapers we build”

Babatunde Irukera has also provided capacity-building and advisory services to government institutions and other clients with respect to competition/antitrust issues. He co-authors the Nigerian chapters in a range of competition/antitrust related widely regarded international publications.

His unique combination of advocacy, commercial practice, and reputation provides the required mutual industry/regulatory assurance and balance for a vibrant and robust consumer protection regime that promotes business stability and investment, as well as consumer satisfaction and confidence.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

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