I wonder deeply and same time troubled within me trying to figure out where we went wrong as a Nation so we can factor ways to correct it so the Nation can move on, a number of errors kept creeping into my subconscious and prominent amongst this is the way an Occupational Health error hurt the nation and almost bringing us to a standstill and how President Musa Yaradua continuously suffer incessant health breakdown because of the pressure of his office which does not fit his health status when compared, this is a square peg in a round hole.
Let us start by taking a look at the provision in Occupational Health Law that makes room for intending employees to go through a pre-employment medical fitness test to ascertain health fitness levels before offering employment letters and conditions. Over the years, this has been able to take care of the problem of misfits in employment processes and has saved organizations from direct and indirect cost emanating from workplace accidents, health claims and man-hour-loss. Expected productivity level is achieved while adopting this OHS employment procedure, you may be academically and technically qualified for a job but Occupational Health and Safety Law is more interested in ensuring you are medically qualified and fit to perform the duties of the office you applied for. By this application, the duties you perform are those which have been measured with your health status bearing in mind the health risks and your expected productivity line. This is a global application of Occupational Health laws as initiated by the International Labour Organisation and signed by so many member Nations including Nigeria.
When I refer to office in the context of this write-up political offices are inclusive and I am worried why Nigerians contesting for political offices in any category would not be made to go through pre-election medical fitness examination which I am very sure if applied in 2007 would have taken care of the problem we have at hand now where the Nation has been without a President for such a length of time. Before President Umaru Yaradua was given a ticket to run on the platform of the People Democratic Party, we all knew he was sick and was even rumored to have died while the campaign was going on. Application of Occupational Health Laws would have been a stopper by merely subjecting him to the required pre-election medical fitness test and compare outcomes with the health risk inherent in the political office he is contesting for using a pre-designed health fitness matrix as a reporting guide. This would have saved our country a whole lot such as the health cost being incurred presently, the huge man-hour-loss and other associated costs.
A number of political office holders have died while in offices due to known lingering health problems which could not withstand the pressure of the offices being occupied. During Etteh’s saga, a Medical Doctor who was also a member of the House of Representative slumped and died and a number of other ugly occurrences. This same set of people initiated the Occupational Health Bill which has been in the national assembly for so long and going through a very slow reading when that bill should have been give the attention it deserves to be signed into laws to handle most of the problems currently facing the country across sectors.
Outside the electoral OHS need, a good number of Nigerians both skilled and artisans are being maimed and killed in their multiplied numbers in different sectors of the economy due to work related accidents, absence of Occupational Health and Safety laws and regulations are responsible. Organisations work below acceptable safety standards which Nigeria has not even been able to set, let’s get the law first and we will come together and help Government to set standards as applicable in many parts of the world. The Ikorodu incident is still very fresh in our memory “a stitch in time saves nine” goes a common saying.
1. The Occupational Health Bill should be signed into law as fast as possible
2. INEC should include pre-election medical fitness test for all intending person vowing for political offices
3. INEC should have a few designated health institutions for fitness test in all regions
4. INEC should as a matter of urgency have an advance medical unit for verify medical results and claims
5. Government should set up a National Occupational Safety and Health Administrators (NOSHA) at National Level
6. Government should set up State Occupational Safety and Health Administrators (SOSHA) at State levels