Economic Cost of Lingering ISPON Crisis

 

Recent figures from research conducted by Safety Record Newspaper highlighted the huge economic cost of the persisting crisis in the country’s apex safety professional body, Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON).

According to this unpublished research, by the end of the year 2017, ISPON would have lost at least N171 million as a result of the internal crisis it has been enmeshed in. The institute’s training fees and annual dues were used to determine figures for the year in review.

The research showed that as a national body that has 13 branches all over the nation, each of which, conservatively, trains 50 trainees yearly, ISPON would have raked in over N51 million from training programmes and generated over N120 million from an estimated 10,000 members all over the federation from annual dues in 2017. The later estimate is built on the premise that the institute inducts new members once or twice in its branches all over the country, and, with over 10, 000 active members, it would have lost over N120 million.

This huge sum of money estimated to have been lost during this period of crisis, if invested into expanding the scope of safety in Nigeria, could at least have been used to set up more branches in remaining states of the federation. Also, ISPON could have partnered with well-meaning organisations to set up departments of HSE that will improve Nigeria’s lagging occupational health and safety (OSH) system. This is mind-boggling indeed.

However, an earlier research covering the same period, also conducted by Safety Record Newspaper, showed that the figure was grossly underestimated, and so the financial loss to the institute as a result of the crisis was much higher than N120 million. A governing board member of the institute in an interview revealed that the institute has about 25,000 active members.

This is besides the corporate membership dues, and sundry means the institute utilises to generate revenue.

It is agreed that the figures are merely an estimation, and not exact figure, of financial loss suffered by the institute. Nevertheless, there is no disputing the huge economic effect of the lingering crisis to the safety body, even though ISPON is not the only body that is experiencing such internal crisis, as its factionalised leadership has consistently declared. The truth is that the impact of this crisis on a chartered institute empowered by an Act of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is profound and needs to be checked.

Consequently, accumulative cost of running the daily activities of the institute in the same period under review did not help matters either. The research further revealed that in the dragging crisis, branches are still paying staff salaries and maintaining properties, while the warring factions in question are consistently spending on court cases and paying lawyers to advice and represent them in court. The consistent police (security agents’) involvement cost money, just as endless monies have been expended on travel expenses by the executives on their several journeys as direct fallout of the crisis.

For instance, a member of the institute’s governing board in the last Lagos state branch membership induction exercise in September revealed that the institute was not able to conduct its annual conference for the year because it lacked funds since members have not been paying their dues as a result of the lingering crisis. An ISPON annual conference affords its members the opportunity of professional development at the Professional Development Conference (PDC) it conducts.

Delta, Lagos and Rivers branches are suffering the most financially during this crisis. Reports suggest that the Rivers branch (which has been shut down), the Delta branch (which recently got back on its feet after a faction of the institute sprang up form an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) that purportedly produced a new president and governing board), and the Lagos branch (save its recently-conducted induction ceremony) have not been generating revenue as they should since the beginning of the crisis. These branches, according to the institute’s records available, have always taken the lead in generating revenues for the institute.

Undoubtedly, there are too many unresolved issues within the leadership of the institute, which is tasked with regulating the conduct of safety professionals in Nigeria. And as a result of the crisis, the leadership is entrenching permissive unprofessionalism within the ranks of the safety professionals and perpetuation of unsafe practices in the nation since the leadership no longer drives the institute’s vision as a result of factionalism.

Altogether, all levels of leadership at the institute need to be reminded that there is a correlation between unity and productivity: the greater the unity, the higher the productivity. This cannot be achieved in a situation of crisis; ISPON needs to come to the roundtable. As a professional body, it is time to seek unity, place better value on the oath everyone took to solemnly and truthfully devote their lives to the service of mankind, and respect the opinion of others.

A safety institute in a nation where OSH practice is still at its teething stage and has a consistent record of accidents leading to loss of lives should stop indulging itself in endless crisis – it is an