Many Nigerians are very happy with the ninth National Assembly about the Electoral Act 2022 as amended. This is because this beautiful legislation will surely add a new leaf to the electoral system of Nigeria. I am delighted that the senate has again taken another giant step in the process of making another beautiful legislation that will see a change in the work place safety of the nation. It is the Environment and Safety Management Institute bill 2022 proposed by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, the senate majority whip.
On June 20, 2022, First Bank of Nigeria, new Otukpo road, Makurdi, the Benue state capital, witnessed a tragic incident. Mrs Dorcas Mwalaan Liga, head mistress at ECWA Evangel Nursery and Primary School, Kanshio, Makurdi collapsed in the bank while making a transaction and died. The loss may not be unconnected with lack of proper first aid, especially CPR, that was administered to her before she was rushed to Madona Hospital in Makurdi where she died.
The fire incident at Next Cash and Carry super market in Abuja is still fresh in our memory. This is just one example out of too many fire disasters that have engulfed public buildings including schools and government establishments of which even the Central Bank has not been spared. Statistics from the Federal Fire Service indicates that between 2020 and 2021, a total of 4,541 calls were made to the agency nationwide and 378 rescue emergencies were recorded.
Hardly a month passes by without reported case(s) of fire incidents, especially in public places. This portends huge financial damage to the economy by worsening the nation’s poverty indices. I stumbled on media reports that between 2019 and 2021, Nigeria experienced severe fire incidents, leading to 79 deaths out of 68 fires recorded in 18 months.
The issue of fire disasters is not only the safety challenges affecting us. In 2019, Minister of Labour and Employment Dr Chris Ngige was quoted by Premium Times to have said 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases annually, while additional 374 million suffer from non-fatal occupational accidents globally each year!
Other environmental hazards such as pollution, flooding and desertification have had adverse consequences on Nigeria. There is no state of the federation that can boast of an efficient waste management system, not even the Federal Capital Territory.
Definitely, Nigeria is losing a lot through environmental hazards and every well meaning citizen must be concerned. The Environment and Safety Management Institute which Senator Uzor Kalu is proposing a legal frame work for its operation has been in existence since 2016. The institute has been engaging in activities such as organising stakeholders on the need to have a safe and secure environment as well as training volunteers on environmental safety. Such an organisation with very lofty aims and objectives should not be allowed to be operating under a shadow.
I, therefore, commend Senator Kalu for taking such a bold step to legalise the activities of the organisation. I call on all stakeholders such as the ministries of environment, health, agriculture, mines and steel development, disaster management and humanitarian affairs, special duties as well as labour and employment including all relevant agencies such as NESREA, NOSDRA ,among others, to rally round the National Assembly to ensure that the Environment and Safety Management Institute bill is passed.
My prayer is that the 9th national Assembly will write their name in gold with another bill like the 2022 Electoral Act. The Environmental and Safety Management Institute bill 2022 is really a child of necessity.
A PhD student Faculty of Environmental Sciences,
Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nasarawa state