Honour for Safety Professionals

Maikanti Baru

Prominent Nigerians like Maikanti Baru, Oguntominiyi, Babagana Mohammed and Abubakar, Daura amongst others, who have distinguished themselves in the field of safety engineering were recently conferred the fellowship of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers, Adedayo Adejobi reports

At the 2019 Safety lecture and dinner hosted by the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers, held recently at the Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, the nation’s most successful safety engineers and other individuals who have contributed immensely to the practice were honoured.

On the roll call of the fellowship conferees were Dr Maikanti Kacala Baru, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; Engineer Oladimeji Oguntiminiyi, Director, Highways (Construction and Rehabilitation), Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing; Engineer Babagana Mohammed, Deputy President, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Major- Gen Bamidele Ogunkale, the Director General, Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria; Prof Idris Abubakar, Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Nigerian Ports Authority; Engineer Salisu Daura, Director of Engineering Services, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria; Engineer Akin Olateru, Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB); Engineer Bayo Adio, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Thorium5 Limited, Engineer Benjamin Olamijulo, Managing Director, Accord Engineering Limited, and Engineer Funsho Adebiyi, Regional Director(South-West), Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

In the words of the Chairman, Board of Fellows, Engr. Dideolu Falobi, “The unique essence of this special event of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers is to honour deserving individuals and professionals who have distinguished themselves, by the award of Fellowship of the institution.’’

Speaking on topic, ‘‘Safety in Public Service Institutions– A Case Study of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing ‘’, Engineer Oluyemi Oguntominiyi, Director, Highways (Construction and Rehabilitation), Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, said: “I feel honoured to be called upon to give a speech at this occasion for the Conferment of the Distinguished Fellowship of a most unique Institution of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.

“I use the word unique deliberately as we all know that a major essence of engineering is safety. Virtually all aspects of engineering – from Civil to Mechanical to Electrical to Chemical, and to all other fields of engineering – require safety. All engineers, as part of their training, are required to incorporate safety in their design, operation and maintenance procedures in order to protect the users that they design for. Having an Institution that focuses specifically on Safety Engineering is therefore one of the most significant developments of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.

“I salute the founders of this great Institution and of the Nigerian Society of Engineers for taking this noble step. Public Safety, Health, Security and Environment is a major priority for Governments, and the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, is no exception. Public Sector organisations therefore remain committed to doing their best, given their available resources, to provide citizens with desired security as well as assure them of their safety. It is therefore good to have a sense and understanding of how Public Sector organisations tackle their responsibility when it comes to Health, Safety, Security and the Environment.’’

Further speaking on how Public Sector Organisations are tackling their responsibilities in public safety and especially how the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is doing so when it comes to road safety, he said: ‘‘ As many of us are aware, the role and responsibility of the Engineer covers the Design, Construction, Operation and Maintenance of systems, products, processes, facilities, infrastructure and equipment used for various physical activities for the benefit of man.

“ Engineers are taught to make sure that safety is an integral part of any project, production, department or whatever value chain in the delivery of engineering projects they are engaged in, so as to ensure that public safety is assured. There must be standards that ensure that the design will achieve a product or system that is safe for the use of the public and is fit for safe operations for the purpose for which it is designed for. Safety engineers also have a role to play in policy and regulation to ensure public safety through the formulation of suitable regulation and the enactment of enabling laws that will assure public safety.”

Giving a peep into the achievements of his agency he said: ‘‘Public interest on the issue of road safety has also increased greatly at this time in view of the security challenges facing the country. Road safety is also of great concern now because of the demonstrable impact of road accidents on the economy. Ensuring safety on the roads is therefore not just an enduring social obligation but also a commercial obligation.’’

According to statistics of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and made public by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria was ranked 191 out of 192 countries in the number of deaths caused by road crashes. The findings further claimed that 162 out of every 100,000 Nigerians die from road accidents. This is a cause for serious concern and concerted efforts are required to minimise road crashes in Nigeria.

The Nigerian road network is currently estimated to be 194,200km and its distribution is as follows: Federal Government 17.6 per cent (34,120km); b) State Government 15.7 per cent (30,500km) and c) Local Government 66.7 per cent (129,580km). Even though the Nigerian Federal roads network accounts for less 18 per cent of the road, it carries more than 70 per cent of freight and services in the country and is responsible for 90 per cent of the socioeconomic activities. Unfortunately, not all federal roads are in good condition. It is therefore important that we keep improving road infrastructure in Nigeria, especially the Federal roads.

‘‘In the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing, it is noteworthy to confirm that the current Permanent Secretary has very visibly demonstrated his commitment and support of safety by giving timely approvals and release of funds for any safety related programmes. The Permanent Secretary had also given approval to commence quarterly inspections of project sites for HSE Compliance.

“HSE requirements form a major part of the checklist of the Ministry’s tender documents and contractors have to perform satisfactorily on before the award of a contract. The quarterly inspections will ensure that the desired level of HSE performance is maintained throughout the life of the project. ‘’

Sharing some of the strategies that the Federal Government is implementing which are aimed at mitigating road crashes on our roads, he added ‘‘These strategies are: a) Deployment of Safety Officers to construction sites b) Quarterly road safety audit on all on-going project sites c) Consistent Budget Allocation for Federal Controller of Works for timely maintenance of Federal Roads d) Rehabilitation of Road Furniture.

“With the current activities of government as it concerns the safety of our roads, I am pleased to say that recent developments show that progress is being made. While this progress encourages us, we will not let ourselves become complacent but will strive to put in more effort. Three of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 deal directly with what we do – SDG 3 on Good Health and Wellbeing, SDG 9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and SDG 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities. We will continue to do all we can to ensure the protection of good Health, safety, security and the Environment.

“ We will also do all we can to reduce the rates of occurrence of any form of disaster to the barest minimum and ensure that, when they do occur, we are in a position to minimise the impact or loss of life and damage to property. It is gratifying to note that safety issues had already been introduced in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools in the country. This however needs to be strengthened so that school children at their tender age will have safety consciousness inculcated in them from an early age.”

In his parting remarks to recipients of the Fellowship and other practising Safety Engineers, he charged: “I encourage the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers to redouble its efforts in supporting Public Service Institutions in Nigeria in promoting safety in the workplace. I also call on the institution, as a Division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, to use its position to step up its safety advocacy and promotion of safety engineering practice in Nigeria. This will be for the ultimate benefit of our country and the society as a whole. ‘