We strongly believe Nigeria has come of age to operate within the confines of globally accepted standards. Occupational Health and Safety has been made so crucial in functional systems in virtually every parts of the world with enabling laws guiding processes and policy formulations. These are in the true sense of it not necessarily local laws but careful implementation of numerous contents of several ILo conventions being domesticated into the local laws for safety of lives and properties in a given Nation. This is a global standard as obtainable in most countries of the world.
In our Nigeria context, we are groping in the dark, maiming and incapacitating the present and future active workforce of the country. Work places have become death traps, loss of loved ones to Occupational accidents are increasingly high without simple accident reporting of detection mechanism. Employers of labour are cashing on the lack of interest from our legislators to set up companies without a single safety policy or principles. The Asians investors who are known for owning and running production factories in Nigeria have so taken advantage of this at the expense of the Nigerian work populace. The saddening part of it all is that there is no law in place to prosecute these set of murderers of even press for claims, it is a common saying that "where there is no law there is no offence. This is a clear situation of the Nigerian system. Multinational Oil and Gas companies introduced Health and Safety into Nigeria and in our ignorance we thought it was an idea borne out of the magnanimity of these companies little did we know a "safe work place is a human right". The presence of these oil and gas companies is strong in the Niger Delta region so safety has a better representation in this region even though skeletal.
We were so elated when the modern-day thinking Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola took the initiative of calling all stakeholders in the state to come for a forum on the discuss the setting up of Lagos State Safety Commission we were all happy but it has been quite a while now and nothing has been heard on that. We are also of the opinion that the whole idea must have met a strong brick wall because there are no enabling Federal Laws to support his initiatives.
We have a continuously sick President who i personally feel cannot withstand the pressure of his office based on his State of Health and this has become issues of national concern but if we have through Occupational Health and Safety model requested pre-qualification medical fitness test for all politicians before registering to get the ticket to run in an election, this present problem would not have caught up with the Nation Nigeria. During Etteh's saga we lost a member of the House of Representative to Cardiac arrest and unfortunately the late legislator was a qualified medical Doctor, a number of such cases abounds. We are itching for a National Safety Commission which will house and regulate other safety agencies under its operations such as Nigeria Occupational Safety and Health Administrators (NOSHA), National Hygiene Administrators, Hazardous Material Handling and Control Board etc. The Nation has a lot of revenue that can be derived from this but we have a set of slumbering leaders.
Time will not fail me to talk about the embarrassment we receive when we are writing international exams in health and safety and you are given a task to accomplish and you are told to liken it to the existing Occupational Health and Safety Laws of your country and you have no choice than to tell the institute you country does not have such laws. You do not know the shame.
In conclusion, I suggest the legislative arm of government takes a closer look into the ILO conventions and the Occupational Health and Safety Laws initiated and agreed upon by member nations including Nigeria. The law is supposed to protect the right of every Nigerian worker but they are all dying in droves.
A stitch in time saves nine goes a common saying.