Safety Professionals Who Made 2017 Eventful

 

-Paul Mbagwu

The year 2017 may not have been a good year for the safety industry in Nigeria, as there were series of crisis in leadership at the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON) which has set the body in disarray, and is shaking the professionals on all sides.

That notwithstanding, 2017 was a fantastic year for some professionals who ended the year on a high note, as they were given recognition for their outstanding works of promoting safety within their respective workplaces and fields at the prestigious Nigeria Safety Awards for Excellence, Hall of Fame (9JASAFE).

As we reflect on the past year’s activities, Safety record Newspaper, in no particular order, brings to you some of those who made the year 2017 eventful.

Benson Adams Otite

Mr. Benson Adam-Otite has been an executive of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON) Lagos branch since 2011 when he took over leadership of the branch. In 2013, Otite was made registrar of the Institute after the expiration of his tenure as Lagos ISPON chairman; until February 7, when he was sent on an indefinite suspension and later sacked by the administration of Dr Nnamdi Ilodiuba, and replaced by Mr. Bola Aborode.

Otitie, however, faulted the dismissal, maintaining that he remains the substantive registrar of the institute. This gained him the support of some members of the institute who formed an alliance which started a movement to correct the perceived ills in the institute leadership. This resulted into series of battles that toppled the leadership of the institute, and later divided the institute into two factions.

In an interview published in the July 2017 edition of Safety Record Newspaper, Dr Ilodiuba insisted that Otite was sacked by the governing board for gross misconducts of breaking into the secretariat office while he was on suspension and calling for an Extra Ordinary meeting (EGM) meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, when he did not have the right to do so.

However, the controversial EGM called for by Otite in Port Harcourt on Saturday June 17 was stalled when an order of the Federal High court in Owerri, Imo State restrained all members from attending it.

Ahead of the EGM, it was reported that Otite had approached the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Commissioner of Police, both in Port Harcourt, to inform them of the scheduled EGM in the state and to seek for the protection of the agencies against any unrest. The DSS after meeting with both parties advised them to have a reconciliation meeting in Lagos, which eventually did not take place.

Undeterred, Otite conveyed another EGM in Warri, Delta State on June 24, 2017 where an election for a “new governing board” of the institute was instituted. There another faction of the institute was formed and he became the registrar.

In August 2017, Otite with some members of Lagos State branch executives were held in custody of the police for breaking into the nationals secretariats, forced out the new registrar and take over the place. They were also accused of making away with important documents belonging to the institute.

This resulted to several police arrests and court cases, which are still ongoing.

Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba

Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba

Dr Nnamdi Ilodiuba is the president of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON). He became president of the body in November 2013, having held the position of Deputy President. His transition as deputy president was automatic, since no elections were held for the position of presidents in the institute.

Under his tenure, a bill on Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria 2014 passed by the National Assembly received the assent of President Goodluck Jonathan, and was passed into law, and in November 2016 the institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Board of Certified Safety Professionals, its American counterpart.

Ilodiuba who was expected to vacate office for his deputy, Mr Yusuf Malgwi, like his predecessor did to him, ended up spending an extra two-year tenure. An election that was eventually scheduled for November 2016 at the institutes conference /annual general meeting in Awka, Anambra State later did not hold, which further extended his time in office. This later stirred up a battle within the institute leadership which resulted in the division of the institute into two factions.

In an interview with Safety Record Newspaper in July, Ilodiuba refuted his detractor’s accusations that he stalled the election to elongate his tenure in office; rather that it was the Delta State branch of the institute who went to court to stop the election, while his lawyer advised that they should not hold the election as a result of the ongoing court case.

On October 28, Ilodiuba was re-elected to run as President for another two-year term during an Annual General Meeting (AGM) held by his faction at the institute secretariat in Lagos. 11 other members of the 13 – member governing board were also elected into office.

Ilodiuba who is a retired officer of the Nigeria Navy enjoys the support of some of the founding members of the institute who were also in the governing board and a large number of the institute’s chairmen who make up the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the institute always giving him visible support.

Hassan B. Hassan

Hassan B. Hassan

Hassan B. Hassan is the group Health and Safety Advisor of Business Contracting Limited (BCL) Nigeria Limited and an associate member of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria since 2015 when he returned back to Nigeria from the United Kingdom.

Hassan has certifications of 11 different professional bodies in facilities management, risk management, environmental health, estate surveying and valuation, among others. He is a facilitator and an accredited professional with the Lagos State Safety Commission. He has served in key management positions outside Nigeria, one of which was as the Facility Manager/Health and Safety Adviser with the Ministry of Justice, Northampton Court, in the United Kingdom.

His passion for safety knows no bounds. His drive for professional excellence and bent for seeing things done rightly has forced him to lend his voice to the ongoing crisis in the institute, which has made him one of those championing the opposition against the President Ilodiuba led faction at the national level, and Engr. Timothy Iwuagwu re-election as chairman at the Lagos ISPON branch.

Said to have been an ardent supporter of the embattled registrar of the institute, Benson Adams-Otite, Hassan was at a time taken into custody by the police for attempts at picketing ongoing training by the institute at the secretariat on claims that they were not qualified to train and give certification on HSE in the country.

In a February interview with safety record, Hassan who refuted allegations that he is involved in the ISPON crisis because he is eyeing leadership positions said that his fight is to ensure a safety body that produces qualified professionals that he can employ and who would require minimum level of supervision on the field.

He was reported to have accused the institute of merging two courses together – General HSE and level 3 for a period of four to five days, and were made to write short tests before being awarded the HSE certification.

On October, Hassan along with other members of the Lagos branch members who refused to recorgnise the leadership of embattled branch chairman, Engr. Timothy Iwuagwu conveyed on the NERDC building in Ikeja to form a factional group, a Caretaker Committee to chart a way forward for the branch. He is a member of the five-man committee member set up to hold forth for the branch working to resolve the issues on ground.

Hon. Hakeem Dickson

Hon. Hakeem Dickson

Hon. Hakeem Dickson was appointed Director General (DG) Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) in October 2016. He is the third DG of the state safety commission since it was instituted in 2014 by the Gov. Babatunde Fashola administration to coordinate matters relating to safety of lives and properties at all levels in the state.

Mr. Dickson, was a former Surulere Local Government Chairman (1988 and 1994) before the appointment to serve as an internal auditor at the now defunct Nigeria Airways.

Hon. Hakeem’s appointment as the helms man of LSSC by Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode generated great controversy in the media and among HSE professional in the state, one of which was that he is not a safety professional – the law establishing the commission of the DG states that the prospect must have put in 15 years of experience as a safety professional in the safety industry.

However, assuming office, the seasoned politician is fast turning into a safety practitioner.

Mr. Dickson under his leadership has set a couple of policies in motion since he took over office in October 2016, some of which are the whistle blowing policy for members of the public to report any unsafe practice spotted to the commission, an enforcement of compulsory construction insurance against building collapse, and a mastermind in the rebranding of the state commission in December 8, to change the perception of Lagocians towards imbibing safety as a culture and for effective and efficient service delivery.