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The Director General (DG), Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Barr Babatunde Irukera has declared that the council under his watch must ensure that the lot of the “ordinary people” who he said in reality are extra ordinary people, is improved.
The DG who made this known on his social media page on Thursday said the CPC under his stewardship does not play to the gallery in carrying out the function of protecting the “ordinary people” whom he described as the “real people” from exploitation.
In doing this, Barr Irukera said he had in the last three weeks carried out initiatives that might either be pro or anti-elitist like the launching of the Bill of Rights (PBoR), closure of an internationally recognized food franchise and securing an injunction against DStv, without minding the consequences.
He emphasized that the real concern of the council is the Nigerian masses, saying everything must be done to ensure that they are protected. “To me, if our work at the CPC does not improve their lot, amplify their voices or empower them, not only have we failed a nation, we are waste and a waste of resources,” he said.
Irukera noted that the Nigerian masses cannot be left at the mercy of the forces of demand and supply, stressing that they must be protected from exploitation as the “bulwark of the nation.”
He explained: “Interestingly, these efforts none were populist, but in part consistent with populism, yet in some quarters, they were not popular. That is to be expected; they were not populist because they were not conceived or perceived from political ideology.
“They were in part consistent with populism because even though not the motivation, they were more considerate of the real (otherwise sometimes described as ordinary) people. (I prefer real to ordinary, because I believe that the people we routinely characterize as “common” in Nigeria, are actually incredibly uncommon, or “ordinary”, are actually extraordinary).
“They are the bulwark of a nation, and they get the short end of the stick, yet they trudge on anyway- abused yet happier, lacking yet more satisfied, serving, yet more gracious, exploited, yet still loyal, despised, yet still dependable, outplayed, yet (sadly) not outraged.”
The DG said their bewilderment most time is that the CPC’s major critics for carrying out people’s friendly initiatives are some members of the social commentators who claimed to be protecting the same people.
He explained further: “So when for each of these initiatives, we have received not just knocks, but ferocious and extreme derogation and denigration from sections of society, our initial confusion is explained and understood.
“The part that belies understanding though is checking the profile of some of the most prolific and outspoken people who derogate and denigrate us, they are self-professed, and sometimes societally respected social commentators and folks who claim or appeared to have cut their teeth on protecting the vulnerable or holding authority and power accountable on behalf of the weak and society.
“It is when a section of elites who seemed really lettered, well-heeled in vocabulary, respected and possessing a platform fail to recognize the battle for the soul of a nation and defense of the “Extraordinary” Nigerian that we must really recognize and understand how dysfunctional our society has become.
“Where pontification or hatred for government sufficiently obliterates what is important. When people argue, characterize us at the CPC as “disgrace” and “disgraceful”, “lacking in brains”, “bureaucratic area boys”, “buffoons”, “grand standers’, “players to the gallery” “fame seekers”, “blackmailers” or corrupt people seeking brown envelopes or looking to shake companies and people down or score cheap political points, then we must examine and re-examine what we stand for, what we fall for, and what we are about.”
He said the initiatives carried out, particularly against the DStv were within the jurisdiction of the council, urging the people and corporate bodies to join hands with the government against “smart people” in ensuring that practices that are inimical to the wellbeing of the people are dispensed with.
His words: “When ‘smart’ people argue that we were “gestapo” or lacking in powers or rational basis to interdict and confiscate contaminated rice in Uyo, I am stupefied by their reason that I have not tested the rice, when on the face of it the rice is inedible.
“It is folks like that who bolstered the confidence of suspects to challenge CPC in court, and even walk into my office seeking to explain and plead that I release the rice. Soon they will hear from us at the CPC. We will be defendants where they are plaintiffs, but they will be defendants where we are prosecutors; it’s the beauty and allowance of our legal system and process.
“Same ‘smart’ people challenge closing a doughnut shop when there is ample and apparent evidence that ingredients had exceeded their shelf lives without credible or regulatory acceptable documentation certifying such products as safe to consume. And, yes, doughnut is actually most popular among children.
“You may elect not to take yours to the doughnut shop, but make no mistake about it, a child in school will bring some to the class. My sense of it, is that with respect to food, even the remotest possibility of adverse effects of consumption call for zero margin or any benefit of the doubt.
“Our most recent work against DStv has been deliberately misconstrued to fit the only possible academic argument or narrative to condemn regulation and regulator, while allowing predation and predator, by arguing that CPC is engaging in price control. It is untrue. Our statement below helps context and perspective.
“We owe a duty to protect all, even those engaged in the robust and sometimes very contentious debates with, or against us. We welcome and embrace both that obligation and the debate. I commend another of my remarks to our social commentators who are staunchly in defense of corporate behavior that is less than ideal for consumers, and that is : “Ultimately, what counts most is not the difference in how much we make, but how much difference we make.”
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