By Josephine Ogundeji
The Chief Executive Officer of Interstate Architects, Olusegun Ladega, has attributed the foundational cause of building collapse in Nigeria to impunity.
Ladega disclosed this in a media chat themed “The future of architecture in Nigeria” as part of activities to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary.
He said as long as the country continues to have a culture of impunity, where some people can get away with breaking the law, or some people are able to show that they are above the law without getting sanctioned, building collapse would remain prevalent in Nigeria.
“So, if I was trying to carry out my job as a conscientious civil servant, I got there to enforce the rules and regulations, then the big man threatened to show me ‘who he is’ when I want to execute what I was sent to do by the law. Then, the man-made some calls that birth incessant threats for doing his (civil servant) job right, and he felt he was not getting sufficient protection from the system. What do you think the civil servant would do?
“It is one of two things. He would either have to walk away from that system or choose to fight and know that there could be dire consequences. One thing in Nigeria if you decide to champion the course of doing things rightly, the first thing the big men would do is to issue a stern warning to your relatives.”
According to him, in some instances, the bureaucracy may not work at the speed at which it works to enable those who are supposed to do the job to perform. In other instances, you have powerful interests that the whole economic interest has served by subverting the system.
The CEO of Interstate Architects noted that there were several contributory factors to building collapse in the country, adding that it has to be agreed that the bureaucracy of the Nigerian architectural system needed to be rejigged.
“Also, sufficient resources have to be made available. Most importantly, there is insufficient manpower, and the manpower issue is one that needs to be handled with care. You don’t flood the public sector with personnel because there is a need at the moment. Whatever happens a decade down the line when you may have plateaued at a certain level of activity and you then need help, this is where I think the public-private partnerships have to come in, particularly in the area of monitoring, to be able to make up for the manpower gap,” he explained.
In the same vein, the Chief Executive Officer of Riel Homes, Kolade Adepoju, noted that the Nigerian system has become one of “man know man.”
He said, “When you have people in government who tend to think you can get away with so many things which actually is true, then there would be no consequential fear of what might happen.
“Knowing that a system frowns at the violation of laws irrespective of whom you know, even if it is the president who is found culpable, and appropriate sanctions meted accordingly, the defaulters and lawbreakers would reduce drastically.
“So, impunity is one of the major reasons buildings have been collapsing amongst many others.” (Punch)