By Nkasiobi Oluikpe, Lagos
Passing out with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos, Akoka, he set out on a path that seeks to achieve the common goals of organizations as well as the improvement and protection of the rights and welfare of their workers; basically managing relationships and interactions between both parties.
He could have embarked on a different career path; he could have delved into any other profit -oriented private business venture, but he sought to be the mediator, and the voice of the unheard; he sought to canvass for the wellbeing of the employees while at the same time, striving to achieve good results for their employers. Olusegun Oshinowo, the Director General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) was driven by passion to do what he has been doing and presently does.
Though he worked briefly as a sales executive with the then Universal Business Machines (marketers of Minolta copiers) between 1984 and 1986; his career path actually took off in 1986 when he joined the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) as the research/industrial relations officer. Getting to AFBTE, he displayed the impeccable stuff he was made of and by 1991; he has assumed the headship of the association as the executive secretary.
His power of negotiation was brought to the fore at AFBTE as within a short period of joining the association, between 1989 and 1991, he had become a key member of AFBTE’s negotiating team on the National Joint Industrial Council of the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Sectoral Group.
While still at AFBTE, in 2000, the board of NECA set out to look for a fellow with the needed expertise, rich enough to protect the wellbeing of its members; someone who could stand in the gap between its members and their staff; its members and the authorities; its members and other relevant institutions; and its members and their immediate communities.
Their searchlight led them to no other person, than the man whose presence at AFBTE has earned the organization national and international honour. So in 2000, he mounted the saddle of NECA as Director-General.
Ever since assumption of duty, he has engaged member organisations of the association in various training programmes for their workers; providing consultancy/advisory services for them and disseminating topical industrial and economic information to them; all in a bid to ensure their continuity in business, for the wellbeing of the larger society.
Having a burning concern for the growing number of unemployed youth on the street, Oshinowo took a step further and sought of ways of getting these younger generation meaningfully engaged, knowing that the much sought-after white collar jobs do not exist.
NECA under his leadership, in conjunction with Industrial Training Fund (ITF), partnered with Ruff’n Tumbles Clothes on how they can train interested youth that have a passion for fashion at no cost, so that they can have a more meaningful life to themselves after the training.
While speaking on the essence of the programme, Oshinowo stated that it is aimed at taking the unemployed youth out of the streets and giving them technical and vocational skills with the purpose of being self-employed.
He said: “We will make the training open to the public so that the process will be fair. The training will also be free and the trainees will also be given some stipend”.
Also in conjunction with the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), NECA under his leadership championed the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) in order to provide adequate and timely compensation for employees who suffer injuries/diseases in the course of their employment.
In addition, the ECS also provides rehabilitation for injured employees in work places and replacement of loss of productivity to the employer.
Still on his desire for ensuring a better and conducive working condition for the workers, Oshinowo not too long ago, engaged the private successors of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) on a talk to allow room for workers right to unionization and collective bargaining, as anything short of that would spell crisis in the sector and dash the hope of Nigerians to enjoy stable power supply which is the main objective of privatizing the PHCN.
On this he said, “Those new employers must first of all recognize the rights of the employees which includes the right to be unionized which is in line with ILO Convention 87 and the labour law in Nigeria. Any failure to recognize that right will throw spanners to the entire template of guaranteeing regular power supply.”
The NECA DG, however said he regretted that nobody talked about the industrial relations perspective in the electricity reform plan.
“Now that we have over 20 new employers as against the only one, PHCN before, will the workers union now engage the employers in units?” he asked.
One sterling qualities of this NECA boss, is understanding the value of setting boundaries in every endeavour in life. As the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) set out to prosecute its member companies, being the helmsman of the umbrella body for private employers in the country, he emphatically warned the CPC against taking up roles beyond its jurisdiction.
Protecting its member organizations further against the CPC, Oshinowo emphasised: “CPC lacks the competence, and cannot on its own institute criminal prosecutions against corporate organizations in Nigeria. While it is in order for the CPC to denounce any form of consumer rights abuses in any sector of the Nigerian economy, the fact, however, is that prosecution of companies for such lapses are outside the scope of the agency’s roles as assigned to it by its enabling Act. The CPC cannot on its own institute criminal prosecutions against corporate organizations in Nigeria”.
The co-editor of the book ‘Cases on Human Resource Management in Nigeria’ holds a Masters degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, also from the University of Lagos. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management, Oshinowo has held many international positions as member of the Executive Board of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) where he was IOE vice president for Africa between 2007 and 2011.
He was also on the Governing Board of the International Labour Organization (ILO) from 2005 to 2011; he is a faculty member of the International Training Institute of the ILO, Turin, Italy. Oshinowo has travelled widely to represent Nigeria and NECA at international conferences, seminars and study trip and has been to 20 countries in Africa, 16 countries in Europe and two Countries in the Americas.
He equally represents NECA on a number of government parastatals which include National Pension Commission, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nigeria Labour Advisory Council, National Orientation Agency (NOA), the PPPRA, to mention a few.
In addition, he is a member of the governing board of International Labour Organization, and Pan-African Employers Federation.
Oshinowo enjoys writing and boast of 30 publications on human resource and industrial relation.
Source : Independent