Faulty Regulators, Innocent Victims

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The Nigeria Senate
The Nigeria Senate
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(Last Updated On: 2016-11-29)

Innocent Adulugba

 

There is hardly any government in the world today without a constitution, even In Banana republic there are regulations. Statutorily, in Nigeria, regulations are issued by various federal, state and local government departments and agencies to carry out the intent of legislation. Previously, and even side by side today, the administrative departments – under the Executive arm of government – otherwise referred to as “the bureaucracy,” perform a number of different government functions, including rule making.

The rules issued by these agencies have come to be known as regulations and are designed to guide the activity of those being regulated.

The core purpose of regulations is to ensure uniform application of, and adherence to the law.

Regulations are enforced usually by regulatory agencies , an everyday governmental body that is created by a legislature to enforce specific laws.

The agency is a public authority responsible for exercising autonomous authority over some area of human activity in a regulatory or supervisory capacity.

Nigeria boasts of a legion of regulatory bodies backed by decrees and acts of parliament. Some of them include Standards Organisation Of Nigeria (SON), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Consumer Protection Council (CPC), National Agency For Food And Drug Administration And Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Department Of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).

Others are the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Lagos State Transport Monitoring Agency (LASTMA), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and many others.

The Role of Regulatory Agencies

Regulatory agencies, on behalf of government, serve the dual functions of implementing and enforcing laws. They assiduously ensure that every business is subject to a cornucopia of laws that govern social and economic matters, including income taxation, payroll taxation, environmental laws, occupational health and safety laws, real estate law, employment laws, criminal laws, and laws that are specifically related to a particular industry, such as insurance or transportation, education or environmental pollution as the case may be.

It is on record that these agencies are well funded by their “parent bodies” who submit annual budgets to the State and/or Federal government. Across trans-media reportage, agency staff usually score themselves high.

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However, the quality of service delivery by these agencies is not felt by the masses. Oftentimes, most of these agencies “ambush” the citizens rather than communicate prior notice to avert complicity.

For instance, many road users have been arrested and made to pay heavy fines for violation of one way traffic, even when the FRSC or LASTMA failed to ensure that a visible road sign to that same effect is in place. Thus the road user becomes the victim.

Similarly, a Landlord may be arrested for his collapsed building while the architect or contractor is left at large.

Presently, the quality of many beverage and snacks products is at their worst and SON is yet to comment on this. Fake drugs, foetal and maternal deaths in quack health centres leave families in misery with

Most appalling is the daily situation of damaged electrical appliances such as flat screen televisions, air conditioners, freezers, washing machines, sound systems as well as other up-budget appliances in homes and offices due to sudden electric power seizures by the various power supplying agencies without notice! I am yet to learn that a person sued NEPA, PHCN, EDCs, or that compensation was ever made.

Alas, impunity is the norm the people must get used to! Even a family member or friend will jeer at you when you grumble about such losses. The owner thus bears the burdens alone because, the burden of repair and refurbishments is the responsibility of the victims.

Indeed, the litany of lamentations is as many as they are diverse.

In all, the series of lacuna created by porous regulatory agencies constantly exposes the passivity of the government. The media is awash with pensioners who die waiting for their pensions, and widows of ex-servicemen who wait in eternity for their husbands’ entitlements. Lecturers, Doctors, Civil Servants and Teachers are owed salaries in arrears of twelve months. And with barely weeks away from Christmas, the roads are set to harvest fatalities because of their poor state: whither FERMA?

Another plague pauperizing the populace is oil spillage. In this coastal peculiarity around the Niger Delta, oil spills have heavily contaminated marine shorelines, causing severe localized ecological damage to the near-shore environment. Life in this region is increasingly becoming unbearable due to the ugly effects of oil spills, and many communities continue to groan under the degrading impact of spills such as dead aqua-culture, destroyed farmlands, violence-ravaged settlements.  If not checked or effectively managed, they could lead to total extinction of the ecosystem.

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Interestingly, as from the 2000s, with the sprout of militancy and oil bunkering, more spills were due to sabotage than by accidents. A UNDP report states that there have been a total of 68,117 oil spills between 1976 and 2001, which account for a loss of three million barrels of oil, of which more than 70 per cent was not recovered. Most of these spills occurred off-shore (69%), a quarter was in swamps and six per cent spilled on land. The NNPC places the quantity spills into the environment yearly over 2,300 cubic meters with an average of 300 individual spills annually.

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The largest individual spills include the blowout of a Texaco offshore station which in 1980 dumped an estimated 400,000m3 of crude oil into the Gulf of Guinea and Royal Dutch Shell’s Forcados Terminal tank failure which produced a spillage estimated at 580,000 barrels (92,000m3). Yet the mega-funded NDDC as well as NOSDRA are  working!.

However, despite the ominous, government functionaries like the governors, ministers, senators, heads of agencies and politicians are all living on islands of opulence surrounded by the masses on oceans of poverty!  Our members of the National Assembly are among the highest earners in the world but hey are never owed!  Yet they always get paid on time ahead of ordinary Nigerians who earn as low as N18,000 per month.

While one would expect the government, through the organs of the National Assembly, to groan under the burden of these tacitly orchestrated drawbacks and assiduously work out lasting solutions, the reality is appalling. A cursory look at the plenary sessions of the National Assembly shows scanty attendance (out of a total of 103 Senate members and 360 in the House of Representatives), with a legion of distractions, even when a motion is on the floor. The universal practice is that members of all parties obligatorily attend plenary sessions because of the broad range of burning national issues on the menu. But as far as the seriousness of plenary is concerned, are the heavily funded law-makers playing to the gallery?

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Two cases, both involving the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), readily come to mind. There is the situation with Dino Melaye, the lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District, who alleged that Remita, a payment platform owned by SystemSpecs, is milking the country by charging 1% as fee on all transactions in the Treasury Single Account, TSA. Reacting, the CBN, on December 17, 2013, issued and circulated a letter to all Deposit Money Banks. The letter may have rubbished Senator Melaye’s claim.

More findings revealed that the choice of Remita as gateway, was the result of a rigorous Due Diligence process.

Remita, according to the CBN, is a payment platform and not a company as Senator Melaye would want the upper chamber, and Nigerians to believe.

Only recently, Melaye has yet, again,  raised the allegation that MTN Nigeria repatriated $13.9bn from Nigeria to other countries between 2006 and 2016 with the aid of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Okechukwu Enelamah, as conniving with four commercial banks: Diamond, Standard Chartered, Stanbic-IBTC and Citi-Bank.

The CBN has again refuted any illegality in the funds transfer, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), also absolved MTN of any blame and dismissed the Senate allegation as “completely false.”

This has irked many experts to raise a query on several media  outlets. They are separately united in asking, “Is Dino Melaye a specialist in mis-leading the Senate as well as Nigerians? When will the day come for regulators to take responsibility for mishaps in their application processes so that the masses can be rid of innocent victims?”

Innocent writes from Ojodu Lagos.

 

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