HR managers practising without licence are quacks – Group HR Officer, Dangote Cement Plc

Dr Musa Rabi’u

Dr Musa Rabi’u, 60, studied at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and did his National Youth Service in Oyo State in 1985. He started his career as a lecturer at the Department of Economics, ABU, before moving to Human Resource Management practice. He has worked at Shell Petroleum Development Company and Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), and was an independent management consultant before joining the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as a Human Resource consultant. He is presently the Group Chief Human Resource Officer at Dangote Cement Plc.


How long have you been practising Human Resource Management?

I joined Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 1990 after about four years as a lecturer at ABU, Zaria. I started my career in Human Resource Management (HRM) as a Personnel Officer in Shell at Warri. After two years, I was transferred to the Shell head office in Lagos where I worked till 1997, first in HR Policy as Head of General Services. I provided core HR services in Warri until 1999 when I was cross-posted to the Shell Central Office in The Hague, until 2003, as HRM Specialist, visited many countries. I became the Head of Learning and Development for Shell Nigeria after the assignment in The Hague. I took an early retirement from Shell to pursue other career aspirations.

Prior to all that, I was very active in the Chartered Institute of Personal Management, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

I was Chairman of the Delta State branch and served as a member of the Strategic Planning and Implementation Committee of Council and became CIPM Registrar/CEO in 2008 when the Institute had certain challenges and needed to re-engineer its operations. I served till 2010 during which period we strengthened the foundation for positive changes that took place thereafter.

After CIPM, I started independent consulting and later became HR Consultant for NNPC. Along the line, I completed my doctorate degree in Business Administration (DBA) in the United Kingdom, with special focus on Career Management. I left the NNPC to join the Dangote Cement Plc in March 2017.


Of what significance to you is the Office of the President of the CIPM?

The Institute itself is the only body chartered by law to regulate the practice of HRM. The Office of the President is an important leadership position through which achievements have been made.

However, there are still some challenges (e.g. recruitment/talent identification and development, next generation, etc.) to overcome.

The President of the Institute has a lot of responsibility to ensure that things are professionally done, while providing quality leadership to the Institute.


From what you have said, would that inform your aspiration to become the President of CIPM?

I am already a part of the history of the Institute’s leadership, having been a State Branch Chairman, member of Committees of Council, member of the Board of Fellows, Chairman of Ad Hoc Committee on Management National Unemployment Challenge (MNUC) in Nigeria, which report was presented to the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Villa in January 2017.

As a former Registrar/CEO, I think I am well placed to contribute even more as the President of the Institute. I am familiar with the challenges of the Institute and confident to build on what has been achieved by the current and past leaders. If given the opportunity to be CIPM President, I would like to add my own quota to the development of the Institute.


What plans have you formulated to move the Institute forward?

The Institute has a strategic plan based on its vision, which promotes excellent people-management practices in Nigeria. If elected the President, I will align with and drive the vision of the Institute. My focus will be on three major areas, which are governance, capacity building and branding.

Governance efforts will strengthen the alignment of the Governing Council with branches across the country. I will ensure that the CIPM has quality footprint in every state.

I will work with Council to strengthen Committees of Council to be more creative and innovative, and to deliver value. I will also lead the Institute to continue to train and license HRM practitioners. An untrained and unlicensed HRM person is like a quack who should not be allowed to cause damage in the organization. I will apply moral suasion to get practitioners to join the Institute for the benefits available, failing which Institute might in future begin to apply sanctions, which it is empowered by law to do.

Every HR personnel who is practising must have an HR Practitioner’s Licence (HRPL), which is renewable every two years. Whoever practises without HRPL is not compliant and operates like a quack.  We will make membership of the Institute more attractive to the public service. We will continue to improve our membership value proposition. When people join the Institute, they enjoy quality conferences, workshop training, discussion forums, webinars, and more.

In capacity building, we will encourage continuous staff development. Professional members will have exciting mandatory continuing professional education programmes in different areas of HRM practice.

We will improve support for the industry to close any identified HRM skills gap.  We will work with organisations like the Industrial Training Fund, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, National Board for Technical Education and other professional bodies to achieve more.


As the HR Head of the Dangote Group, one of Africa’s largest conglomerates, how do you wish to bring your experience to bear on CIPM in terms of HRM process application?

The organisation I currently work with has presence in 10 countries, so my experience in HR covers 10 countries in Africa. This experience will benefit the Institute because our mission is to be the best people-management Institute out of Africa.


What are some of the constraints you have identified both while working at the Institute and thereafter that you want to work on?

The three areas of governance, brand and capacity building are the identified constraints I will work on as priorities. Already, the CIPM is encouraging corporate organisations to include the CIPM Diploma as a professional qualification prerequisite for hiring HR practitioners in job adverts. This will help reduce quackery in the industry and enhance professionalism.


The term ‘Personnel Management’ now sounds archaic as practitioners are now referred to as Human Resource Managers. Is there a chance that there would soon be a name change in the Institute?

What’s in a name? Our Institute got its name 50 years ago. In other climes, it is known by different names. In the UK, it is called CIPD (Chartered institute of Personnel and Development). In the USA, it is called the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). Depending on the country, the name reflects what it is. The profession itself evolved as Personnel Management, then moved to HR Management, then later to Strategic HR Management and now we are in the era of Human Capital Management.


With your vast experience and travels, what are some of the HRM practices done in other parts of the world but are yet to be embraced in Nigeria?

The CIPM is already globally aligned in many of its operations in respect of ‘best’ practices. A programme on global standardisation of HRM was launched last year at the Annual National Conference in Abuja.

I am aware that the CIPM is committed to ensuring that the standards are fully put to practice in Nigeria. It’s a long journey to realise the gains, but the CIPM has already started it.


Can the Institute’s Diploma in HRM be a basis for admission into a Master’s degree programme?

I am aware that the Institute’s Diploma is already regarded as equivalent to a first degree in our higher institutions of learning.

Before someone can obtain our Diploma Certificate, such a person must have passed through the examination route and later done an industrial attachment. Such a student who has passed through our Diploma programme will find it easy to practise HRM as they are already exposed to both theory and practice.


From your point of view, is it possible that all those practising without licence (quacks) will be compelled to get a licence?

The CIPM’s training programmes are very attractive and more people are joining the Institute. It has the practitioner’s route and the examination route. HR Managers in various organisations need to have HRPL and whoever doesn’t have it can be regarded as a quack. The law is very clear that the Institute can enforce it. The change should be step-by-step because changing people is not easy as they are bound to resist the change even when it would benefit them in the long run.

When CIPM remains focused and consistent in its mission, we will achieve the vision.

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