Date Published: 04/28/10
28-04-2010 PRESS RELEASE
The collapsed two-storey market plaza in Oshodi, Lagos on Monday!!!
Two days ago; precisely on the morning of Monday, April 26, 2010, a two-storey market plaza (part of the Isopakodowo Market, in Oshodi, still under construction) belonging to the Lagos State Government collapsed, killing at least five persons or more, and leaving several others wounded. This is yet another case of the now frequent Collapses of structures in Lagos State in particular and in Nigeria generally.
Sadly, this particular case might be handled with levity as in previous cases, where a Building will collapse, and dust will just be raised for a few days without anything being done to prevent future occurrences, especially since the Structure in question belongs to the Lagos State Government-the results, no lessons are learnt.
But since this is a peculiar case with respect to the ownership, we are going to watch events unfold; we are going to see how the Fashola Adminstration handles this. We say this because we know from the government antecedents that if it were to be a private property, the government would have moved in swiftly, sealed off the Structure, and even marked off other Buildings around the vicinity for demolition without due consideration (compensations or alternative measures) for the victims-The Fashola Administration is used to marking off Buildings and other Structures for demolitions because of its beautification project without adequate measure to mitigate the attendant effects on the victims of these policies. Testimonies abound to this fact. For instance, a whole lot of the victims of the Tejuosho and Oshodi cases are yet to be compensated. And there are so many others in that category. The little effort the government claimed it is putting in place for these people will never get to them at the end of the day as they cannot afford the exorbitant cost. As an illustration, the government claims it is building some new Shops for the victims of these demolitions, yet the cost ranges as far as a Million Naira which is beyond the reach of a vast majority of these victims. So often, it is the rich and in fact, people that are in no way affected that get these government palliatives. We have asked this government before to reconsider its Beautification Initiative with respect to demolitions as it doesn’t make any sense to deprive majority of the Citizenry of their Homes and Sources of livelihood simply for the sole purpose of the beautification of Streets and Roads. No doubt; Beautification Exercises are good but they are meant for the Citizenry and not the other way round. We know that government cannot solve all of our problems; but it must do that which we cannot, and may not be able to do for ourselves, and that is to cater for our welfare and security in line with section 14 (subsection 2b) of the constitution. And if the government of the day defaults on this sacred obligation, it becomes an aberration.
As an Organisation in the forefront of the pursuit of Justice, Freedom, peace and love, we are particularly concerned about the wanton destruction of lives whenever cases like this occur. Often, these incidences are due mainly to the greed and avarice of the whole of the Construction team (made up of the Architect, the Structural Engineer, and the Site Engineer as well as the Bricklayers), and the failure of the Ministry of Works and Housing (or the relevant Approval Agency) to do what is right. This failure of the relevant Authorities in government to do the needful because of pecuniary gains constitutes grave danger to the lives of the Citizenry. All we hear is just a few days of noise making by government and the culprits are never caught or dealt with or if there is at all any attempt to do something, they are left off with just a tap on the wrist because of their so-called privilege position
The painful aspect of it is the apathetic nature of Lagosians and other Nigerians. We say Lagosians, because the highest occurrences of these sad phenomenons have taken place in Lagos. We live in a country where anything goes and whose government has absolutely no regard or value for human life; no respect for the sanctity of the human person; where there is no accountability in government and public establishments. Everyman appears to be for himself and God for all. We can’t continue like this, otherwise we will all end up in doom, as individuals, and as a nation.
We are too forgetful, too forgiving and too indifferent when the pain does not in away affect us. But we forget that Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere and a threat to life anywhere is a threat to life everywhere. In other words, if you refuse to speak up or do something about this societal ill simply because you feel it does not concern you; do remember that it might be your turn tomorrow. You or any Member of your Family or Friend might just be the next victim. We must learn to resist the temptation to be silent in the face of the glaring contrast of the law with respect to the rich and the poor. This idea of having one set of laws for the privileged and another for the unprivileged endangers our collective well being and our democracy.
To this end, we call on the Lagos State government to conscientiously investigate this collapsed Structure, and ensure that those found culpable are brought to book. There must be no sacred cow. We must learn to respect the sanctity of the human life.
Comrade Eneruvie Enakoko
(CLO Chairman in Lagos)