- Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President of Nigeria, has dismissed Babatunde Irukera, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).
- The President's spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, said that Irukera's dismissal is part of Tinubu's intentions to restructure and reassert important federal government agencies to safeguard the rights of Nigerian consumers.
- In the same statement, Alexander Ayoola Okoh, the CEO and Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), was also fired.
Irukera began serving as Director General of the Consumer Protection Council in April 2017 and became CEO of the FCCPC in December of the same year.
Recent years have seen Irukera take a leading role in Nigerian digital lender regulation, particularly concerning predatory lending practices. In September 2023, the FCCPC delisted 28 loan apps from the Google Play Store.
Following the formation of the Inter-Agency Joint Task Force on Digital Lending Apps by the FCCPC, over 300 digital lenders — among them prominent Nigerian fintech firms like Sycamore, Trade Depot, Fairmoney, Pivo Africa, Payhippo, and Carbon — were granted licences.
In March 2022, it stormed the offices of GoCash, OKash, EasyCredit, Kashkash, Speedy Choice, Easy Moni, and Sokoloan.
On why the President fired Irukera, a statement reads, “In conformity with plans to restructure and reposition critical agencies of the Federal Government towards protecting the rights of Nigerian consumers and providing a strong basis for enhanced contributions to the nation’s economy by key growth-enabling institutions.”
Reacting to his dismissal in a post on X (formerly Twitter), Irukera expressed gratitude to have served Nigeria and assured that he’s leaving behind a strong institutional advocate in the FCCPC and an outstanding team of officials.
Recall that in December 2023, he expressed frustration over his agency’s inability to stop the proliferation and operation of illegal loan apps. There are speculations that this failure may have contributed to Irukera’s current fate.
While explaining why illegal loan apps seem to always thrive despite FCCPC’s best efforts, Irukera explained that there was no way for the agency to stop the operations of these apps. In light of this dismissal, stakeholders are waiting to see if this will change.
In December 2023, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) announced plans to develop a new regulatory framework to address Nigerians' rising indebtedness to loan apps.
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Because Nigerian borrowers on these platforms have been defaulting on their loans, debt has become a major issue. So, the regulator said it would build a central location where loan applications can receive information about individuals and their creditworthiness in 2024.
The FCCPC, under Irukera, also faced allegations of bribery of the agency’s officials by illegitimate loan apps to operate. Although Irukera vehemently decried these unsubstantiated claims, it’s curious, especially considering the timing of the dismissal.