Friday, 27 April 2012



Saturday, 28 April 2012 is the world day for “Safety and Health at Work’’.  The annual event anchored by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has this years’ theme as “Promoting Safety and Health in a Green Economy”.   This theme is coming in these times when according to the ILO, ‘’there is a shift in the world to a greener and more sustainable economy’’.  Sustainability as we know, dwells on (among other components), social development and environmental protection and in the thinking of the ILO, these should be closely linked to safer and healthier workplaces and decent work for all.

The Green Jobs initiative is a joint initiative of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).   In the UNEP Green Jobs report of September 2008, the initiative defines green jobs as ‘’decent work which contributes directly to reducing the environmental impact of enterprises, economic sectors or the economy as a whole by reducing energy and resource consumption, reducing emissions, waste and pollution and by preserving or restoring ecosystems’’.  The document further states that ‘’Green Jobs need to be decent work; i.e. good jobs which offer adequate wages, safe working conditions, job security, reasonable career prospects, and worker rights’’.

In its paper published to support this years’ observation, the ILO SafeWork office documents that the notion of ‘’Green Jobs’’ as only those jobs involved in the protection of biodiversity and the environment has been broadened to include the creation of jobs contributing to resource efficiency...... as well as occupations which play central role in ‘’greening’’ industries across the economy’’.  Continuing, the paper notes that ‘’Green Jobs include new job opportunities across a wide spectrum of occupations, from managers and scientists to technicians and farmers, and for a wide range of job seekers in rural and urban populations, including slum dwellers’’.  The paper also documents that ‘’the main areas of economic activity that have the best potential for generating new green jobs are: renewable energy, construction, transport, recycling, forestry and agriculture’’.

What has caught my attention here and which agitates me is the whole idea of ‘’Green Economy’’, ‘’Green Jobs’’ and ‘’ Decent Work’’.  In order words, the evolution of green economies (the current focus), will generate associated green jobs – jobs that protects/preserves not only the environment (which is paramount anyway), but assures good or decent life and safety for the people, the workforce.  Come to think of it, the people need to be safe (alive) and healthy (strong and virile over long years) in order to continue to man, drive and sustain the production processes that assures an even greener economy.

Nigeria’s ‘’Vision 20-2020’’, foresees a robust economy, in the league of the top 20 in the world by the year 2020.  This will suppose a green economy, in line with the focus of the world.  I believe this is achievable.  We have the strategy document, we have the people – so I believe – we only need to get working.  My concern on this day and at this time is the need to begin to give serious thought to the ‘’Green Jobs’’ paradigm as we match towards ‘’Vision 20-2020’’.  In saying this, I am thinking of all sectors of the economy and owners of enterprises – oil and gas, banks/financial institutions, manufacturing, telecommunications, waste management, construction, transportation (land, air and sea), government parastatals, etc.

From one sector to another, one office or work area/site to another, lots of Nigerians work in environments and under work conditions that can be said to be far from ‘’Decent’’, the type envisaged/articulated by the Green Works Initiative.  Aside from the oil and gas industry, where the safety and health of staff and personnel have in most cases been elevated to another level and used as one of the indices for measuring overall business performance/success, the same may not wholly be said of other sectors.  In greater instances, it is considered a great favour that you have a job in the midst of huge unemployed, poor and hungry people.  You are therefore expected to focus on working anyhow instead of complaining on issues regarding your safety and health.

One area of deep concern is the waste management sector, where both government and private organizations are involved. This sector is huge, connecting activities and end processes in almost all other sectors.  While this sector is identified as one of the fastest sources of green employment, it cannot be lost on us that the practices that are associated with this sector and most importantly the conditions under which young Nigerians do the jobs portends greater harm to the people and ultimately the economy as well as the society.  One is aware of the existence of waste management laws in Nigeria dealing with not just appropriate handling, but minimum safety and health provisions for the workforce.  Where then is the enforcement?

Waste Collection & Disposal Operation in Nigeria:
 a ‘’green’’ activity, but how green is this job for these folks.  They are exposed to diseases/infections and possible death from falling off these truck.

Many sad cases also abound in the labour intensive manufacturing industries, owned and run by certain Asians where Nigerians are subjected to very unsafe conditions in their own country.  Such companies operate in complete disregard for any know health and safety or labour laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (and these laws/regulations abound).  Lots of our young people, potential gurus of tomorrow have either been maimed or lost their lives in such blatantly unsafe work conditions and the owners/operators of such factories have gotten away with such avoidable deaths.

The construction sector, involving working at heights is one that has also maimed lots of our young people.  The oil and gas industry regards work at heights (any work from 2 meters above ground) as one major exposure/high risk jobs and takes extra precautions prior to authorizing such jobs to proceed, even though their direct staff are not involved – it is called duty of care for contractor personnel. Sadly, this is not so with the other sectors, where organizations care little about how their jobs ate accomplished.  Again, I am certain that laws and regulations exist for the building/construction industry dealing with minimum safety and health provisions for various construction works.  Again, where is the enforcement?

An Artisan In Construction Work: 
With little or no consideration for his safety & health, this fellow is in danger of sudden fall from height with potential for instant death or permanent disability

The transportation sector is arguably the worst killer.  Here, dreams/hope of tomorrow – future anchors of Vision 2020 - have been cut short, virile manpower maimed or lost and rendered liabilities to the economy and society; and these could have been avoided.  The tragedies from this sector have been due largely to the multitude of workers (drivers) with little or no instructions on the basics of this sector/their jobs; yet these ones bandy around licenses of all sorts, given by recognized authorities in the country.  These hordes constitute threats to not only their unfortunate passengers, but other decent road users.

Green Jobs, Decent Jobs/Work, assures the preservation of a virile workforce over long periods of time.  It assures that we do not lose our best brains and hands before they have come of age and maturity to be at the helm of the production processes where they will bring to bear experiences garnered over the years growing through the ranks.  It is a backbone to a greener and bigger economy by year 2020.

The theme of this year’s celebration can and should be a wake-up call for all of us; employees, employers and most importantly our government – the safety and health regulatory arms.  We owe it a duty to this country to realize ‘’Vision 20-2020’’ or at least be able to count our good progress by the end of 2020.  But first, the workforce of tomorrow must be preserved through appropriate safety and health practices. 

Have a very SAFE Day and do all in your power to remain safe and healthy each day.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Father God, your humble servant, a youth of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous and arguably most gifted black nation come to you this day on my knees and totally humbled.  I come trembling, confused and fearful – yes father really fearful – as I think of my beloved country which recently reached a landmark age, golden jubilee it is called.  I come knowing that you can do everything and no counsel of yours can be withheld from you’’.

It is clear to me that the counsel of your heart for Nigeria was aptly captured in the speeches and utterances of our founding fathers, heroes past and friends when Nigeria was born nearly 52 years ago - as an independent nation.  These were men and women whom you put your Spirit into at the time, to prophesy concerning the child just born into the world, I mean into the comity of sovereign and free nations. Permit me to say Lord God that they were your prophets.  They were your prophets because they spoke (prophesied) of a great and prosperous child-Nigeria, a nation capable of rising to the status of or even above such great nations as America.  They spoke of a nation which, considering its enormous latent and visible resources, (human, natural, rich diversity, etc), will in no time begin to run and then go on to set great records in the world stage.  Such records were to include: a just and egalitarian nation; a nation whose landscape is decorated with choice and enviable infrastructure – educational, social, etc; a nation of imposing industries, providing more jobs than her well educated and trained citizenry could fill; a nation of men and women who will always recognize that there is dignity in labour – honest, hardworking, incorruptible people.

Father, this popular saying has it that ‘‘life begins at 40’’.  In the case of my beloved country, child-Nigeria, she turned 40 years ago, but is yet to begin life.  I say so because at nearly 52 years, none of the prophesies about her have come to concrete fulfilment and as a youth of this country, this is really disheartening, to say the least.  Father, You and I know that the non-fulfilment of these prophesies are not because they were false or that you have withdrawn your authority on them, far from this. The truth is that the men and women who over the years have received/handed down the baton of leadership from our founding fathers have failed us woefully.

Mighty God, I remember the stories and profiles of our founding fathers.  My late father (who died battered and disenchanted by the Nigerian system in my early university days), told me a lot of the stories and I corroborated most of what he told me from what I read in print.  They were selfless men and women, true statesmen, visionaries, leaders out to imprint their names in the sands of history.  They were people whose words and lives inspired awe, patriotism and hard work.  They offered themselves to serve.  They got into the struggle for a sovereign nation, inspired by the spirit of service and because they believed in the Nigerian cause.  They were not opportunists, looters, liars, greedy and corrupt men and women.  They had their weaknesses, yes, but their spirit of service far outweighed whatever weaknesses they had.  I do not lose sight of the fact that they were mortals.

Father God, I do not wish to bother you with the many things that dishearten and make me tremble about my country Nigeria. I will break down enumerating the details.  During our Golden Jubilee Celebrations, I listened to men and women at different fora speak and enumerate the various reasons for our woes.  They also tried hard to proffer a way forward for my beloved country.   They believed (and spoke out), that we have not lost it all and that we have another 50 years to get restored.   As I listened, I cried and the same time rejoiced. Yes, I rejoiced because I realized all hope is not lost, not with the country brimming with such fine and articulate minds, such as I listened to.  Yes father, there is hope because I sense the crystallization of thoughts and deliberate choices of good people in Nigeria – hearts and choices saying one thing, we can rise up from today and possess it. And I know that you are ever willing to order and prosper our good collective choices.

And so FATHER GOD, I pray you today to please help Nigeria to truly begin life as we set our sights on the so much talked about year 2020, when we would have added another decade to our existence – clocking 60 years.    You waited for us to begin earlier, but we were not ready.  You encouraged us when we turned 40, but again we were not ready.  We have passed the landmark age of 50 years, we are 52 in few months from now and it is still doubtful - yes doubtful to me - if we are ready to start life.  LORD GOD, the tunes have suddenly changed and I fear for the worst. We are no longer just grappling with the heavy burden of corruption, failed leadership, decaying institutions and systems- including a near moribund educational system and the like; it is now the heavier burden of terrorism - brothers killing brothers with reckless abandon as a way of making their points, expressing their grievances or enforcing what they want- whatever these means.  What was never imagined by our founding fathers - your prophets of old has suddenly crept in upon us and is threatening to blow us and our oneness to shreds - so it appears to me LORD.

Questions are being raised all around, most bordering on our oneness as a sovereign, united nation - with peoples of different/distinct cultures and cleavages.  Should the different cleavages go their separate ways?  Should they remain one or may be enter into some kind of arrangement that still portrays oneness?  LORD GOD, the questions are as myriad as they are fearful - yes, really fearful.

In all these LORD, I choose to believe that 2020 will come upon us and so I pray; help us to begin to live.  I can hear the resounding response of the youth of Nigeria, my generation, saying Amen.  I know they are also following recent developments.  Fear, doubt, despondency, etc. are also welling up in their minds.  Nevertheless, I know they want their country to begin living and so I pray.  Help us to begin to walk right, obeying the laws of our country and your Holy laws.  During elections, may we be ready to make our votes count, to probe deeply before we cast our votes.  Help us to reject the use of mundane things and empty promises to fool us, impose mediocrities upon us and further mortgage our future and those of our children. It is easy to decipher empty promises because the pedigree and antecedents of those making such are well known by us.  Yes, these are well known unless we pretend and chose to remain fools.  But father, may you not allow us to. We are ready to hold accountable those that we vote, (yes I mean vote because our votes must count), or those appointed into positions of authority, to help us steward our country’s resources – your good gifts to us.

May we no longer take the position of indifference and just allow people we put in positions to do what they want. No, never again.  May we resolve never to be found wanting again in the discharge of our civic responsibilities first to Nigeria, but beginning from our families and local communities.  May we resolve to engage at all times, in honest job and living, knowing that our labours will never go unrewarded.   May we resolve that come the year 2020, when we celebrate our 60 years of nationhood, we shall be busy reflecting on how great we have lived life.  We shall also be rigorously strategizing on how to consolidate on our great achievements as a united sovereign nation.   

LORD, may it be that in 2020, we will be telling the stories of present happenings - especially terrorism - and how we overcame as a people with your help and mercies.  I have read stories of countries that passed through near crippling internal developments - may be close to or even worse than ours - and yet overcame.

And so LORD, my eyes are on 2020 and I know it s possible with you.  Thank you Lord. Amen.