• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Regulators should be proactive

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One central hallmark of an orderly society is the outstanding quality and depth of regulation provided by regulatory agencies of government. In such society nothing goes topsy-turvy as a routine, and there is a visible presence of order across such society. These agencies fix their regulatory binoculars on their sectors ensuring compliance with set standards. The case of Nigeria is different and disturbing even with a plethora of regulatory agencies gulping a significant part of budgetary allocation every year and after half a century of experience in managing our affairs as a nation.

The way and manner the Standards Organisation of Nigeria dithered on the issues of the differing quality of cement in the market, proper labeling and diverse uses, without being proactive on the matter until civil society cried out, is worrying and shows insensitivity to core issues of regulation. Even now that guidelines on the production and labeling of different qualities of cement are being provided, will effective monitoring be done to enhance compliance and save consumers and Nigerians the needless  confusion and danger?

We must note that the strides that the Central Bank of Nigeria has made in the banking sector in the last decade is an indication that an efficient regulator can turn around situations in its sector, improve confidence and get players fixated on the right things. Those who are familiar with the banking terrain in the 1980s and up to the 1990s will understand that banks in Nigeria operated like cartels, had their own laws, norms and practices against the set best practices and even against the interest of their publics and society. We are witnesses to how hands-on regulation brought sanity and order to this sector.

In the era of Dora Akunyili in NAFDAC, Nigerians for the first time saw how a regulatory agency pursued its activities with a crusading spirit alien to the world of public service in Nigeria. Nigerians also saw how the fear of NAFDAC in that era made fake drugs and food dealers’ tremble. For quite some time, this crusading flavor in NAFDAC’s activities has not been visible.

Regulators should not sit back and watch activities in their areas of supervision deteriorate. The volume of sub-standard goods that have their way into the country and even those that are even produced within is worrying. We believe that it is the duty of regulatory agencies to constantly pry into what goes on under their purview with the objective of sanitizing affairs and ensuring that parties play the game according to the rules.

In Nigeria, we feel the pain of rudderless and weak regulation in many areas. It appears that those who are given the duty to regulate even connive with relevant parties to cut corners. And whenever this occurs, society is short-changed and the people are left to live with disorder and the unpleasant consequences of such.

We call on all those at the helm of affairs in our regulatory agencies to sit up and not be laid back or see their domain as a rent post carved out for their selfish pursuit.

Our political leaders should take with seriousness the process of appointing helms men and women for regulatory agencies. Heads of such agencies must show passion, be focused and not be people who seek enrichment through the back door. And even when appointed, such helms men and women in regulatory agencies must be under periodic review to ensure that society is not impacted upon negatively on account of their poor performance.

The truth is that no society rises above the quality and depth of regulation and governance provided. When regulators don’t pry or turn away their prying eyes, things go topsy-turvy and human society becomes an animal jungle.