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HomeNewsYemi Oke: Datkem Plaza: Saving lives is not politics

Yemi Oke: Datkem Plaza: Saving lives is not politics

Because Nigeria is a clime where almost everything is given a political coloration, the partial demolition of Datkem Plaza, Ijebu Ode, a structure owned by Mrs Olufunke Daniel, the wife of an ex-governor of the state and the senator representing Ogun Central in the National Assembly, Gbenga Daniel, was always going to be seen by many through the lens of politics. They have been conditioned by experience to see things through that lens. However, it is crucially important to go beyond politics in unraveling the present development. This is because a careful consideration of the facts of the case will show that the demolition is about law and order and public safety, and nothing more. There is no way a partial demolition that took place after more than 12 months of unheeded warnings can be seen as playing politics simply because those contravening the law are highly placed political persons. Indeed, it is absurd to see ordinary citizens who have suffered such fate as fully deserving of it and politically exposed persons as not. The idea of citizens potentially suffering as a result of the actions of highly placed individuals in the society organizing pity parties for them (highly placed people) after they have serially broken the law is not only absurd; it in fact amounts to self-abnegation.

It is an open secret that the collapse of buildings has claimed thousands of lives and caused incalculable damage over the years. In April this year, a seven-storey building collapsed in the Banana Island area of Lagos, with workers trapped under the rubble. There is no way Nigerians are going to forget the November 1, 2021 tragic episode in which a 21-storey building being developed by Fourscore Homes collapsed in the Ikoyi axis of the state. The gory incident claimed 46 lives, including that of Femi Osibona, the owner of Fourscore Homes, while 15 others were rescued. In February 2022, a three-storey building collapsed in the Onike area of Yaba, leading to several casualties. In May of the same year, the collapse of a three-storey building in the Ebute-Meta axis of the state claimed at least eight lives, while in September 2022, a seven-storey uncompleted building collapsed at Oba Idowu Oniru street, Lekki. There have been many such incidents across the country.

Indeed, in January this year, the Building Collapse Prevention Guild indicated that over 271 buildings collapsed in the last 10 years, while at least 531 persons have died as the menace of crumbling structures continues to plague Nigeria’s building industry. The incidents were linked with professional ineptitude. The houses collapsed because of excessive loading, the use of substandard materials, faulty design, poor workmanship and weak foundation. The most tragic of the incidents was the collapse of a part of a multiple-storey building inside the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), which left more than 80 worshipers dead, while several others were critically injured. One can go on and on, but the point is that the collapse of buildings is a potent threat to life and property that no reasonable government can afford to ignore because of personal friendship/relationship with people.



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