Monday, March 11, 2013


I really get worried over how many Nigerians should die before our Government accords the safety of Nigerians in all workplaces the attention it deserves. Have you ever bothered on the post incident trauma every accident inflicts on both the victim and fellow workers.
I am really sad and just hope and wish we can just do the right thing, show a little concern, this is one case to many. This young man has been demobilised for life. Really sad, you need to take out time to read through this horrifying encounter as reported by Simon Utebor and published in page 9 of The Punch Newspapers of 11th March, 2013. 
Mark Okilla, an engineering mason with Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, Lagos State, whose right arm was chopped off by one of the company’s construction machines, has accused CCECC of neglecting him.
Okilla’s arm was grounded by a pulley machine from the finger to his chest. The machine later tore the arm completely. The stump was later covered by layers of skin removed from his lap. The 26-year-old man said the company merely dumped him in the hospital and since then, had not deemed it fit to check on him and did not care how his family was faring since the incident that left him incapacitated for life. He said, “It is lamentable that a company I have been working for since two years ago could abandon me at a critical point in my life. “The company only deemed it necessary to look into my plight when lawyers threatened a legal action and petitioned the Lagos State Government. “Even at that, the company, in a bid to satisfy the government, paid some medical bills without any official coming around to know how I was faring let alone knowing how my family was being fed.
”Okilla told Punch Metro on Friday that on January 5, 2013, he had left his 3, Ojo Afeje home in Orile Iganmu for work in high spirits but his joy was cut short by the accident. Explaining how the accident happened, Okilla said, “On the fateful day, I was forcefully assigned extra duty in a different department I had no knowledge of to operate a locally-fabricated pulley machine used for removing rubber from the cast beam- after completing my normal day’s job. “This was a technical department that required proper training and safety devices which were not provided. Masons have nothing to do with operating machines. The said machine had been faulty and was fixed a few days previously, but on that day while holding and guiding the wire rope and belt continuously from the machine to ensure accuracy, the machine malfunctioned and got stuck on the other end that was attached to the beam. “The beam being heavier than the machine forced the machine to pull from the base and moved towards me with such a force that suddenly dragged my hand into the machine. The machine continued to drag and grind my hand until my chest, which could not pass through the machine, stopped it. The stoppage forced the right hand to pull off instantly and stuck into the machine.“I was told that I fainted and only recovered after surgery. I continued to suffer in the hospital without proper feeding and medical attention due to lack of money to buy prescribed drugs. “In fact, upon all this, my two months’ salaries were only paid after my relations threatened to cry out to Nigerians for justice. “It was soon after my accident that the company built the normal safety barricade that should have been there before. “Because of the severity of the accident, when my arm was deteriorating and refused to heal, the doctors had to cut some flesh from my right lap to add to my arm. It was such a gory sight! ”He appealed to Nigerian government and Nigerians for justice against CCECC whom he accused of enslaving young Nigerians.
Counsel for Okilla, Mr. Moses Gbagbo, of Kings and Goodman (Solicitors), in a letter demanding compensation from CCECC, said the mishap would have been avoided. He said this was because of negligence on the part of the company which allegedly failed to provide a conducive working environment. He said, “Our client, who is in his prime is now maimed for life and will forever be dependent on other people for his survival. “As it is right now, all our client’s plans have come to nought as he is now handicapped due to your fault in not providing an enabling environment for him to work.”The lawyer has therefore demanded that CCECC pay N1bn to his client for the permanent incapacitation.
Gbagbo said if the company failed to grant his client’s request, he would not hesitate to institute legal proceedings against CCECC.The letter to the CCECC, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent, was also copied to the Lagos State Government, National Assembly and the Benue State Government.When our correspondent contacted CCECC Human Resources Manager, who identified himself only as Mr. Wang on the telephone on Sunday, he asked, ‘Who gave you my number’? ”When our correspondent tried to explain further, Wang retorted, “The problem with Mark is not the problem of the public. It is the corporation’s problem.“Whatever you want to do you can do. If you want to put in the paper, you can do that. Please, do not call my phone again. ”Wang subsequently cut the phone.
Dear readers, as pathetic as the story may sound, i need you to also leave your most honest view on the comments space.
Do you think the Nigerian Government has been fair to Nigerians and Non Nigerians in Nigerian workplaces?
Why can we have agencies responsible for regulations, inspections and conquences/penalties?
Would you really want to blame these Chinese companies who are not safety cultured?
Have you ever wondered why Nigeria has become an investment destination for Asians?
Where there are no legislations, operating standards  or policies, you cannot hold anyone accountable.  What is difficult in Mr. President applying his signature to the Occupational Health and Safety Bill that has been passed by The Nigerian Senate in 2012?
It is really shameful saddening, we can go on this way. No! 
Ehi Iden


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Dear author, good write up and nice concluding question. These laws, policies, plans and implementation are there, but the problems come from the enforcement angle.

    The company: These companies are suffering from poor or collapsed (if it ever existed) Safety Management System, as a matter of fact, I doubt if CCECC delegates safety marshals to any of their sites, where you find tractor and hiab/crane operators with their banksmen not properly kited. Even their Chinese staffs on site rarely put on crash helmets and steel-toe boots not to talk of the Nigerians which I strongly doubt if they underwent a pre-commencement phase induction, specialized trainings, kickoff meeting or hold weekly toolbox talks with.

    The government(On the other hand): Aside the 2012 Occupational Safety and Health bill that hasn't been signed, there are existing laws and acts guiding industries as regards OSH. My opinion, I see the concerned bodies to be highly INACTIVE and DOCILE. They should engage in continuous audit or ensure that companies' safety management system is audited, go through safety reports, incident reports (near misses and accidents), safety meeting notes, induction register, training register etc, and pay unannounced visits to companies and to ensure compliance. There should be both positive and negative rewards, acknowledgment etc to encourage and promote OSH in the industries.

    1. Hello Sylvester, many thanks for your very objective comment.
      I totally agree with you that safety has been poorly regulated in Nigeria and has led to the very bad state we have found our selves which these Asian companies are taking advantage of.
      I agree with you also the law of reward and consequence will also go a long way.
      Please stay in touch and let's keep sharing ideas using this tool.

    2. Thanks so much. I look forward to subsequent topics and issues

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