The Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) and the Directorate of Physical Development, Works and Services (DPDW&S) has received sensitization on safety management, from members of the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP), Thursday March 16th 2023, at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) headquarters, Abuja.

The ESMP team sensitization workshop is meant to inform ACETEL,  DPDW&S and the university management, on major safety rules required for the proposed World Bank building project.

The ESMP plan is a major requirement for the ACETEL, in order for them to be able to earn funds for the construction of its building.

ACETEL centre Director, Prof. Grace Jokthan, in her opening remarks, welcomed all that were present at the workshop.

She stated that the ESMP sensitization workshop is the first of its kind, as the ESMP team has never been involved in other projects in the university.

“We have never had to go through the rigours of an environmental safety management plan and all that is required.”

“It has not been an easy task, but we appreciate the consultants for creating the time to actually go through all that is needed, and these are mandatory processes as far as the World Bank is concerned, for us to have the building of ACETEL in place.” She said.

Prof. Jokthan said by having the ESMP sensitization workshop, ACETEL is fulfilling one of the regulatory requirements and also to gain personal knowledge.

She urged everyone at the workshop to pay attention to all that will be said.

“As end users of this building, we need to be aware of all the safety rules and regulations that they will guide us through, and we also wish to appreciate them for their time and resources that they have put in for this meeting.”

The Social and Environmental Safety Officer, ACETEL, Dr. Petu Ibikunle, while giving a general overview of the proposed ACETEL building, said, to get the World Bank project done, the requirements must be met.

Speaking further, Dr. Ibikunle said that at the end of the workshop participants will understand World Bank project work ethics.

He stated several stages that the environmental unit handles in ensuring the World Bank requirements.

He said, “The soil survey, the site survey was done and of course the foundation survey.”

ESMP consultant, Dr. Linda Akpami, presentation stated the do’s and don’ts of safety management.

She enlightened participants on the need to caution contractors to abide by safety rules, in order to avoid air pollution, potential risk of health harzard, ensure proper waste management, prohibition of child labour, prohibition of sexual relations, conflict between workers and the community and school members etc., so as to prevent the project from being suspended.

She said the major goal of the ESMP in Projects like the ACETEL/World Bank project, is to ensure sustainability of the project.

She said “the World Bank funded project wants to be sure that the components like ACETEL or NOUN that is being supported, will make sure that they comply to relevant environmental and social standard, because they believe that this is key to any sustainable development.”

Going through various slides to enlighten participants, she emphasised the need for contractors to be informed on the code of conduct while on site.

She called for the availability of a clinic in case of emergency and also the inclusion of people with disability, by including ramps in the building, toilets (for PWD, table height) etc.

Dr. Akpami also emphasised that the roles and responsibilities in the ESMP implementation and monitoring be engaged.

Environmental Sustainability Specialist, Mr. Jesse Ojobor, who is part of the ESMP team, while making his contribution, urged ACETEL to highlight areas that are necessary for the centre to take on.

He stressed the need for trainings to be done and that trainings that have been done should be indicated as this will increase the ranking of ACETEL.

A member of the Directorate of Physical Development, Works and Services (DPDW&S) team at the workshop, said the Directorate is ensuring that contractors who take on building projects in the university, do the right thing by following the right processes.

A copy of the ESMP report has been submitted to DPDW&S to keep the Directorate abreast of activities regarding the proposed ACETEL building.

Representatives of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) management, Deputy Registrar, Council, Ms. Wosilat Ainodion and Deputy Registrar, Human Resources, Hajia Fadinatu Fufore, were present at the sensitization workshop, to give ACETEL support and to gain necessary information and requirements regarding the ACETEL/World Bank building project.

ACETEL student counsellor, Dr. Sefiyat Omuya, gave the vote of thanks, she said she learnt from the workshop and reiterated that it is necessary to be sensitized about safety management, as many people are not conversant in that area.

She thanked the ESMP team and everyone else present at the meeting for coming.