The leadership crisis facing the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON), Lagos State branch, came into sharp focus when dozens of branch members converged on the NERDC Building, Ikeja, Lagos, on Friday, October 20, to chart a way forward for the branch.
The branch has been divided along two factional lines since a failed October 2016 branch election exercise.
Many members of the branch, including majority of the erstwhile state executive body members, have since refused to recognise the leadership of embattled branch chairman, Engr. Timothy Iwuagwu, who is insisting he remains substantive chairman.
The Factional Chairman of the Lagos Branch Caretaker Committee, Mr. Femi Abiodun, said that the meeting was a “turning point” in the branch’s history, and expressed satisfaction at seeing members of “like-mind who desired a lasting solution to the crisis.”
He said the end of the crisis would herald a new beginning of greater things for the Lagos ISPON.
Abiodun said, “I was looking forward to this meeting and I am happy and it is really a turning point in the history of Lagos State ISPON.
“Safety is so wide but because we are so limited everybody is pursuing one thing or the other but I am sure once everything is settled we will get there.”
Also speaking at the event, prominent safety practitioner and former General Manager, Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Safety, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engr. Peter Onyeri said that the “weak foundation” of the institute contributed to escalating the crisis.
“We were pursuing the safety bill then. I said, ‘Once we get this bill, safety will open out and 21st century people will come in and when they come in, there will be issues,’ because the foundation was weak.
“The foundation for running NISP that became ISPON was weak and it is still weak for what was coming.
“I saw a lot of activities in front of us but the foundation was not strong enough and I advised that we should quickly rearrange ourselves to wait for what’s coming,” he said.
Onyeri, who said he was in contact with all the parties involved in the crisis, advised that all the members come together to forge a better institute.
He added, “The world is moving and we need to find a way to resolve this problem…
“I am fully in contact with all parties. At a point I started travelling and I had to cut it and of course people will have different views, but let me assure you that what you are doing I completely support you.
“At long run we will have an AGM that will move all parties together and then we can now move forward as a united body as for me in particular I do have sleepless night on this matter.”
Furthermore, Onyeri vowed to continue attending meetings called by the group as a show of support because the institute had to continue working.
“Anytime you have this kind of meeting, let me have information… I would want to attend.
“Anytime I am not around but I can cancel my engagement where I am, I will want to attend,” he stressed.
Also, Health and Safety Advisor, BCL Construction Limited, Hassan B. Hassan cautioned members of the group against joining issues with other parties but rather use an intelligent approach in tackling the issues at hand.
He said, “If they are blowing hot, we blow cold. This is not the time for us to use fire for fire.
“It is all about using intelligent approach in the war… We need to think in a more professional manner.”
Meanwhile, the branch meeting also featured a practical session and safety tour of a BCL Construction Limited’s site located in Ogba, Lagos on Saturday, October 21.
Conducting the team that also included the Director General of the Lagos State Safety Commission, Hon. Hakeem Dickson on a tour of the construction area, the site’s Safety Supervisor, Mr. Abdulrazaq Adewole, said the company maintained a strict policy regarding access to its project sites to avert accident.
He said unauthorized persons were prohibited from accessing some areas of the site due to crane activity involved at the time of construction.
Adewole further disclosed that the company’s policy specified that all workers put on their safety hat and boot before coming on site, pointing out a signpost being erected at the entry point carrying the safety rules.
He added, “We have the head count. It specifies that every worker registers his or her name before entering the site and if not done, the security will not allow such person into the site.”
He also mentioned that the construction firm has a very welfare package which takes care of all workers at site.
Similarly, a staff of Rated Cranes & Scaffold Nigeria Limited, a notable indigenous construction servicing company, Mr. Lawal Olaifa, showed the group how a scaffold is erected from the base.
Olaifa, who defined a scaffold as a temporary structure meant for workers to work at height, disclosed that a scaffolder must get approval from a certified inspector before a scaffold is erected and put to use.
“If not safe, workers would not be allowed to work at height,” he said.