The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), Nigeria chapter will from March 17-19, 2022, hold its Annual Professional Development Conference (PDC)/Exhibition. In this interview with HSENations’ John Ogunsemore, Presient of ASSP Nigeria chapter, Shehu Kabir explains the uniqueness of this year’s programme and also shared his thoughts on several issues affecting the HSE profession in Nigeria. Excerpt…
What’s the conference about?
It is a developmental conference to enhance members’ professionalism and also for greater interaction. Furthermore, it will boost members’ CV and is also an awareness programme to the public.
What’s unique about the conference?
It is unique in that there is a change of scenery; that is, the environment. By the change of environment, we’re just trying to follow up with our global body’s way of doing things. Like each and every PDC at the global level, the environment changes. Last year we’re in Austin (Texas) but this year we will be heading to Chicago (Illinois) and next year could be Colorado. So we thought that in Nigeria, why can’t we follow such example, because previously we held our conferences in Lagos. It was only in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic that we held our PDC in Abuja. So, I’ll call it unique because constant change of environment has come to stay. When we do this one in Abuja, the next one might be in Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, or other places.
You’re halfway into your tenure as President, ASSP Nigeria chapter. What have you achieved at the helms so far?
Great increase in membership, spreading of ASSP’s existence to both industries and government. Also, another thing I can say I’ve achieved should be the knowledge imparted and knowledge sharing. We’ve shared knowledge to members and to the public and it really makes me happy to see that ASSP Nigeria is impacting the lives of Nigerians. Also from our members, Nigerians and others in the diaspora have really got a lot of knowledge sharing and impartation. Also, strong networking is an achievement. You unite this and that and people are coming out across many organisations and various aspects of life to unite based on this. Among our members, it is very interesting.
As the Nigerian president of ASSP, can you say the society is achieving its objectives?
Definitely, I will say yes.
One area that membership-based organisations appear to be lagging behind is in the area of cooperation with similar bodies. There seems to be this unspoken rivalry among organisations for relevance. Is ASSP, Nigeria chapter guilty of this?
ASSP Nigeria is affiliated to the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON). So if there is anything ASSP likes in the HSE profession, it is cooperation and collaboration with similar bodies. It is the same common goal we share with all the similar bodies. To be frank with you, ASSP Nigeria is not guilty of this. We’re a bridge builder in that direction. We’ve collaborated in so many ways, even in our activities. Presently, with this our upcoming PDC, I engaged most of my similar body professionals so that one way or the other I give assignments to some of these bodies. It’s for common goal for us to achieve safety awareness in Nigeria and the world as a whole. We always feel happy to have these similar bodies working for a better and safer Nigeria and ASSP.
What do you consider to be the greatest impediment to the growth of the safety industry in Nigeria, and how can this be tackled?
I will say weak legislation, mostly focused on profit rather than safety and non-adherence to standard. The way to tackle those is that we have to strengthen our legislation effectively; safety should be first before we talk of any profit. All standard procedures are supposed to be followed accordingly.
There is this belief that safety programmes/courses are overpriced. Do you subscribe to this belief?
If you can remember a saying that goes: If you think safety is expensive, try an accident. I will leave you with this.
What advice do you have for stakeholders in the safety industry that seem to be fighting among themselves all the time?
My advice is that they should reinvigorate their commitment to a better and safer Nigeria.
You come across as a very busy man. How do you relax when not implementing or evaluating safety management processes?
As I said during my inauguration speech, I was born and raised My Safety. That’s why it’s very difficult to separate my life from safety in that direction. To me, life entirely is a definition of busy. But if you’re referring to how I find my leisure after work, definitely I can say adequate sleep, exercise and food. I don’t joke with these.