• “It has scattered everybody” – Jerry Akpobari
  • “It has stalled the development of the Institute” – Dare Akinfosile
  • “For peace of mind, young professionals join foreign bodies instead” – Obianuju Okeke
  • “The crisis has been resolved, Dr. Nnamdi is the recognised President” – Nonso Nwaogu
  • “It has caused a deficiency of knowledge among safety professionals” – Kamil Abiodun

Following the long-running crisis plaguing the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON), Safety Record decided to get the reactions of safety professionals in the country on the effect on the profession.

When contacted a safety professional, Mr. Nonso Nwaogu, said that the crisis has “divided safety professionals” in the country.

“The only effect I can see is that it has divided safety professionals. Like I said in the earlier interview which was blown out of proportion, some persons are only interested in their own personal or selfish interest and nothing else. Everything that is just happening with the rebel party is all for their own personal selfish interest — they coming up with their whole cabal and all that.

“I personally do not see any effect. Everybody is still going about their normal businesses, moreover, the National President has been pronounced and acknowledged and it is online there,” Nwaogu, the Head of Operations Lagos State/Head Trainer, World Safety Organisation – Nigerian Chapter, told Safety Record.

Nwaogu seized the opportunity to urge members of the Yusuf Malgwi-led group to comply with the ruling Federal High Court, Owerri’s ruling and recognise Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba as the ISPON President for peace to reign.

“The rebel or factional party has no other choice but to accept the elected National President for ISPON.

“Since the crisis has been solved, if they do not recognise Dr. Nnamdi as the National President, then I think they will face the consequences,” Nwaogu stated.

Another safety professional, Jerry Akpobari, lamented the negative impact of the crisis on industries in Nigeria.

According to him, the saga has left the institute incapable of implementing safety procedures thus causing the industries to work at “a very minimal level of safety standards.”

“It has actually scattered almost everybody. You know, when you have a body or a place where we gather to brainstorm, it does not only bring us together, but goes as far as enabling the successful implementation of safety procedures in the country.

“So, this crisis has taken too long. It has killed so many persons that are not even part of us. If you speak to persons about the ISPON crisis, they don’t want to hear it. I am virtually disappointed that we have not been able to put an end to the crisis so far. It has also destabilised the essence of this establishment in this country for this period.

“For the industries, they are now operating on their own levels—a very minimal level of safety standards—which is part of the establishment of ISPON which is to implement it in the system. But while this crisis has been roaring on, everybody has used the opportunity of the crisis to do what they want and when they want to. It is having a lot of impact on our people in the labour force which happens to be the Nigerians that we are supposed to protect,” he said.

Another safety professional, Dare Akinfosile, described the crisis as “irritating”.

Akinfosile bemoaned a situation where safety professionals could not point to the benefits of being members of the institute.

“Generally, I do not like getting into that ISPON crisis; it is quite irritating,” he said.

“It has stalled the development of the professional body and the professionals and it is of no benefit to the young upcoming professionals.

“Typically, a professional body is supposed to help build and develop professionals and not just the experienced ones, but the upcoming ones tend to benefit more from professional bodies.

“In our own case, ISPON has not served that purpose so one cannot say that this is the benefit of being a member of ISPON. They are not doing anything,” Akinfosile iterated.

On her part, a young safety professional, Mrs. Obianuju Okeke interestingly revealed that the power tussle has affected the membership strength of the institute as prospective members now prefer joining foreign safety bodies in order to avoid the melee.

“I have done their (ISPON) exams and enrolled to become their member before this crisis started, but I am actually not a member of ISPON. The point is that, we are all human beings and we know what crisis entails. When there is no peace, nothing works,” she explained.

“I keep telling people that we young professionals are not finding it funny because where two elephants are fighting, the grass suffers. I will be very happy if I wake up one day and hear, in all sincerity, that it has been resolved. That is my prayer. I was intending to be a member before this thing happened. I wish I really knew what the issue is but seeing as I am not a member, I don’t really know.

“But one thing I do know is that it is affecting membership. Nobody will want to go into a place where there is crisis. Instead, people are identifying with foreign bodies— IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health), NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health), International Association of Safety Professionals, and all the other bodies—to the detriment of our own local body. There is no place that does not have issues but this one is something else.

“The major effect is that no reasonable person will become a member because of the factions there and you will not know which one is which. ISPON would have had greater membership strength if there was peace. Joining IOSH, for instance, is even more costly, but they will not mind because of their rest of mind,” Okeke stated.

A former President, American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) Nigerian chapter, Stephen Udezi, said that the body would remain neutral in the crisis.

“You know I am the past President of the Nigerian chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals?” Udezi queried.

“By virtue of that position, I am also a member of ISPON and that is why I do not want to say anything.

“If I say anything now and it is published it will look like ASSP is taking sides in this crisis.

“That is why as a past President I am not going to say anything on ISPON. No interviews, nothing.

“It is a personal way of maintaining status quo at ASSP,” he pleaded.

Another ex-President of ASSP, Mr. Kamil Abiodun, waded deeper into the saga by pointing out the disadvantages it has had on experienced safety professionals, upcoming professionals and the safety profession as a whole.

“It has had a long-term effect on upcoming safety professionals who are in the middle of a process of getting them registered as members of the safety profession, knowing full well that there is a law that requires all safety professionals to be registered to practice the safety profession in Nigeria.

“The crisis has put some of these upcoming safety professionals unattended to and they in turn do not know which side to turn to. If they register with one side, on the other side, they are telling them that their registration is null and void. This is happening to the two sides of the faction that we have and it is unfortunate.

“Also, it has put the professional development – the continuous development of the safety professional that is required, at a slow pace of getting updated to the industry’s best practice that is required.

“Safety on a daily basis, there is always a change globally, but the Nigerian professionals are disadvantaged because information should have come through the Institute. So, that put our safety professionals at a deficiency of knowledge due to this crisis going on,” Abiodun lamented.

It will be recalled that the Federal High Court sitting in Owerri had on May 15, 2018, decided in favour of the Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba-led governing board as the authentic leadership of ISPON.

Safety Record can report that the institute has fixed October 26 for its Annual General Meeting/Election to hold in Owerri, Imo State.

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