Whistle blowing in Nigeria. To be or Not to be

For all it’s worth…. Life is good. A few days ago, 29th July 2015 precisely, I attended the Lagos State Safety Week (LASSWEEK) 2015 event and the presentation by Mrs Ronke Odeneye titled “For all it’s worth…. life is good” was my favourite. She talked a little about fire safety, ergonomics, road safety, electricity and gave some fantastic quotes. I liked that she dealt with these pressing issues and these are some of the problems we currently face in Nigeria especially road safety and electricity which I have written on in the past few months.

The event was a totally different from other events / conferences I have attended. I learnt nothing great (to my disappointment) as when I attend conferences and seminars I always hope to get something from it – something different, something I can immediately apply to my work and life. I was grateful for the experience but I really wanted more 🙁 and I really hated the fact that Yoruba seemed to be the language used to drive a message home. Messages I never took home as I had no clue what they were talking about except the repeated “Eko o ni baje” statement (I knew what that meant but for my readers who have no clue what it means, “Eko o ni baje” means Lagos will not go bad or spoilt or something like that – you get my drift).

I gathered that the most important part of the event was the presentation of safety card and launching of the Whistle Blow Initiative. Safety cards? What’s that about? It’s all good news as you can now have a safety trained Electrician do your electrics in your home and businesses without fear that you are using an incompetent person or getting substandard work and/or equipment. The safety trained electricians members of the Licensed Electrical Contractors Association of Nigeria (LECAN) were presented with their safety cards so feel free to ask your Electrician for his before you get him to work on your property 😉 . Need a competent Electrician? Contact LECAN.

Whistle blowing? Well this involves you challenging a bad or unsafe act when you see one. It is hoped that Nigeria will get to a point where no one tells you to mind your business when you challenge their wrong. It is a brilliant initiative but……..

The whistle blowing made a lot of sense but I had major doubts. Major doubts because this sort of thing works in societies where there is law and the law is easily obeyed whether you see the police or not; whether you are being watched or not. In fact I doubt it would work in Nigeria at this time (July 2015). Why do I doubt it?

  1. Laws. Laws. Laws. I mean the lack of it! Without a regulation in place, this will be ineffective. That brings me to some good news shared by the representative from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity (at the LASSWEEK event) – the Nigerian Health and Safety bill has been signed, we just have to wait patiently for judiciary to do their part. Yipee! Now I am clueless when it comes to serious legal matters but I know this is good news as I couldn’t help but scream yay! when it was announced. Now how true this is? I have no idea but I choose to believe it. I (like other Safety professionals) am desperate for some working regulation(s) in place.

  2. Corruption. Corruption. Corruption. Whether we choose to accept it or not, Nigeria and many of its citizens are corrupt to the core. If you have got some money, I think you could get away with… The truth is there will always be near misses, accidents and fires and those responsible will do their best to walk away without blame or punishment. I think alot of people are corrupt because they are hungry or scared of hunger; they are homeless or fear homelessness; they are poor or fear poverty etc. Many end up corrupt as a way of preventing their fear from becoming a reality. I understand that but if we cannot deal with corruption on an individual level, then dealing with it as a nation will be next to impossible. The truth is you do not need to be watched before doing the right thing. I could go on and on about corruption but the bottom line is we need to constantly be educated and reminded about the negative effects of corruption. The government needs to provide welfare and support the less privileged; businesses need to be supported and taxed less so that they can pay their workers better if not…..

As an individual, how about starting by not expecting a tip for doing your job or helping someone out? How about not forcing civilians to break the law by making them “pay” because you have spent the last hour or so threatening to take them to the police station or for psychiatric assessment when they appear to have done wrong on the road whether they did it intentionally or not? How about helping a lost driver by showing them the right route rather than seize their vehicle for not knowing the way? The list is endless but I am sure you get my drift.

We have to kick corruption out if not, no amount of laws will make any difference or bring about the change we desire. We need to accept that we will be made to face the consequences of our acts be it omission or commission. It is going to be difficult but it can be done. If we could deal with Ebola and Polio together as a nation then we achieve anything we set our hearts to achieve. Yep!