The Lagos State Branch of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPoN) has inaugurated a seven-member “working group” to chart a way out of the crisis bedevilling the branch.
The decision was made at an Extra-ordinary Monthly Branch meeting attended by no fewer than 40 members of the branch and held on the premises of the National Headquarters of the institute on Friday, January 20.
Embattled Chairman of the branch, Engr. Timothy Iwuagwu, was conspicuously absent at the meeting.
The branch has been enmeshed in controversy since the acrimonious October 7 election to elect state executives.
While Iwuagwu continues to maintain position as duly-elected chairman, some aggrieved branch members insist the electoral committee staged a walk out of the election venue and so Iwuagwu could not have been elected when elections did not hold.
The aggrieved members also claim that Iwuagwu was rejected by majority of the members at the election venue and that there is an attempt by the national leadership of the institute to perpetuate him in office.
The working group comprises Mr Julius Akpong, Mr Lucky Oderhohowo, Mr Innocent Onuoha and Mr Hassan B. Hassan.
Other members of the working group include Mrs Monica Nwosu, Mr Harold Echendu and Mr Femi Abiodun.
According to Nwosu, who moved the motion to establish the group, their terms of reference would include harmonising the members’ positions and making recommendations on the right course out of the internal crises bedevilling the branch.
She further noted that all the deliberations of the members on the contentious issues would end up as mere grandstanding without the group, which would consider the legal, technical, and professional angles of the issues and make recommendations.
In a chat with Safety Record Newspaper, a member of the group, Hassan said that the group would be representative of all members and keep them abreast of goings-on in the institute as it relates to the contentious issues.
He added that the group would also meet the Governing Board to table their grievances with a view of finding a lasting solution.
He said, “The issue raised (at the meeting) was to form a working committee which will represent all members and also whatever that is being deliberated on will be communicated back to the members and those who are not present.
“We were also asked to deliberate together and also get to back to the governing board.”
Also, a member of the branch, Mr Kehinde Ologuntoye said it had become necessary to establish the group to meet with the governing board again as the first meeting with the board on the contentious issues did not lead to a resolution of the crisis facing the branch.
On the rationale behind the creation of the group, he said, “They are the focal point to meet with the Governing Board and let them know that we are here to resolve the issue; that the meeting that we had in October, we are yet to hear a response from them.
“These few, temporary people that were selected were asked to do just that; to ask for a response from them.”
He further said, “We had a meeting last year October (22) with the Governing Board, where we mooted all our grievances and they promised to respond within two weeks.
“Till now, we have not heard anything from them. We felt we had to come together to see how we can meet the Governing Board again to see how we can resolve the issue.
“So, we have not had any meeting since then. They call for a meeting and that meeting didn’t hold.”
Earlier, one of the leaders of the aggrieved members, Akpong urged the branch to liaise with other troubled state branches to call an emergency Annual General Meeting (AGM).
He said the AGM was the ultimate decision-making body of the institute and that any decision taken there would be final and binding on all members.
Akpong stressed that the “central authority” of the institute was in “chaos” and therefore not in a position to lead it.
On the other hand, a member, Mr Francis Ewenla said the branch should constitute a caretaker committee to administer the Lagos branch until another election is conducted.
Ewenla, who is a foundation member of the branch, revealed that it was not the first there would be crisis in the branch.
He said, “Nothing is spoilt yet. We can reorganise it. It is not the first time something like this has happened in the Lagos branch. This is the time to set the foundation on a sure footing.
“There should be a caretaker committee to administer Lagos until another election is conducted.”
Also present at the meeting are erstwhile Governing Board member, Dr. Nicholas Okere; the Institute’s Registrar, Mr. Benson Adam-Otite; the Institute’s Public Relations Officer, Engr. Wilson Arikpo; and others.
Attempts to reach embattled chairman, Iwuagwu to ask why he was absent at the meeting were unsuccessful.
Several calls placed to his known phone numbers were unanswered. He also did not return the calls.