The collapse on Monday 1st November, 2021 of a 21-storey building on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi Lagos intended as luxury apartments where 42 dead bodies have so far been recovered is one more incident in the ugly history of building collapse in Nigeria.

Any one who has attained the age of 40 and above,  living in Nigeria all along would testify to the fact that the incident of building collapse in Nigeria with more records in Lagos was not a common occurrence some 25 or 30 years ago.

We have nothing against democracy as a system of governance which Nigeria returned to some 21years ago, but it is regrettable to say that so much impudence and irresponsibility have become the hallmark of governance at every level.

How do we mean? Since the dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1999 the door of deceit, greed, primitive accumulation and brazen display of disobedience to rules became widened.  Speaking specially about the collapse of building, one would like to say that during many years of military rule, there was little or no record of such incidents. If it occurred at all, it had to do with aged buildings not housing anybody.

Regrettably, the civilian administration of present time that began in 1999 came with it, enormous display of unfaithfulness in the housing industry. Between 1999 and present day, many buildings particularly those at construction level have  collapsed and in many cases killing innocent people.  We have had cases of relatively not too old buildings collapsing and killing inhabitants obviously due to structural defects.

Almost hundred percent of the buildings which collapsed at construction stages were as a result of structural defects like weak foundations,  inappropriate use of rods for pillars and other things. The engagement of unqualified builders some of whom are mere bricklayers but go in the name of building engineers contribute a lot as the house owner want cheap labour to avoid much cost.

If the governments are resolute in their supervisory functions concerning building constructions, building contractors and their clients would not have field day adopting shot cuts or cutting corners in the quantity and quality of materials.

Revelations so far in the Gerrard Road Ikoyi incidents point to the fact that the initial approval given to Femi Osibona’s Fourscore real estate company was for 8-storey building before it was reviewed upwards for 15-storey with some approval from the Lagos State Government.  Whether the story is true or not, is what remains controversial even up to the point where State Building Task Force officials came for physical inspection of the building some time last year.

A trending video showed that Osibona, his security details and other associates resisted the Task Force officials’ attempt to enter the premises which ultimately resulted in the arrest of Osibona by the Task Force officials.

The effort became fruitless as in less than ten hours, Osibona had secured his freedom due to what has been described as “Orders from above”. That is the Nigerian way.

The same building was reportedly upped to 21-storey contrary to the earliest approval and irrespective of the standard requirements for foundations.  The construction was allowed to continue due to orders from above which in the long run, has taken the precious lives of no fewer than 42 persons and still counting as some people are yet to be rescued from the rubble.

If we are in a clime where government officials keep to terms with standard rules and procedures as stipulated by laws of the land, how possible could it have been for Osibona to manipulate his way out of the accusation of exceeding the approved height of the building?  Who gave the orders from above for his release following the arrest by Task Force officials?

Nigerians are yet to know the truth in this matter and how we wish that Osibona was alive to give account of all what happened.  However, this very incident is different from other collapsed building incidents as emerging information point to the fact that there was power at play even when some stakeholders saw the danger ahead but were brazenly ignored.

As we join other Nigerians to mourn the death of all those who lost their lives in the incident,  let it serve as a lesson for government at levels that using official positions to circumvent the rules has its consequences as manifested in the Gerrard Road incident.

As it is now the Babajide Sanwo-olu administration has both the moral and spiritual burden of proving to Nigerians that it acted in good faith. One of the ways of doing so, would be the revelation of who gave the order from above to release Osibona from detention without prosecution for circumventing the extant rules on building constructions and subsequently returning to site to continue work.

We have had so much spill of innocent blood through collapsing of building built with greed, deceit and evil mindedness.

 

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