•Falana offers free legal services to prosecute building collapse culprits
By Kingsley Adegboye
The Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), nation wide rounded off its week-long activities to mark its maiden edition of Builders’ Day at the weekend with the message that “Enough is enough of building collapse in Nigeria”, adding that the only way to end building collapse in the country is for the government at various levels and Nigerians to patronise only professional builders during their building projects, and not to engage services of quacks any more.
Meanwhile, in solidarity with NIOB, a renowned legal practitioner and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has offered to give free legal services to prosecute building collapse offenders.
Speaking at the grand finale rally of the builders’ day at Ndubuisi Kanu Park, Alausa, Falana, called on builders to be vigilant to ensure the arrest of quacks and corrupt contractors who compromise construction standards.
According to him, “NIOB has to be vigilant and ensure that fake builders and quacks in the building industry are arrested and prosecuted by government. Henceforth, we are going to work with this institute to ensure that those who are so callous to sacrifice the lives of people because they want to cut corners are dealt with”.
He equally called on relevant agencies of government to wake up to their responsibilities of regulating construction activities in Lagos and other cities to ensure compliance with building laws, insisting that “Unless you are willing to collaborate, your profession will be invaded by quacks and a lot of fake people, including foreigners.
Falana who said his law firm will ensure that henceforth, victims of building collapse will be compensated, stated that “It is the duty of the government to protect lives and property of the citizenry, but since the government is not doing that, and you have taken it upon yourselves to so, we will collaborate with you”. show them the way out. This is the only way to sanitise the building industry in Nigeria”.
In his speech, NIOB president, Kunle Awobodu, said professional builders must take their rightful place in the building production process and strive to meet the expectations of the Nigerian people in the constant and successful delivery of quality, affordable, safe and durable buildings.
“Again, professional Builders must take their rightful place as the managers of the building production and construction processes in all building projects in Nigeria. This is an irreducible minimum to promote sanity in project development and for the overall good of our society. Our nation needs not continue to waste lives and property while it has a stock of specialists with the appropriate body of knowledge for the construction of lasting and sustainable buildings.
“Financial investment in building is huge. Owners of buildings are required to do due diligence, and are also entitled to safe buildings in addition to value for money. Building collapses cast a dent and a slur on our national image. We are here to stop the embarrassment. We enjoin all public spirited individuals and organisations to join in this campaign. Do your part, build right, use the right professional for building construction, engage and support professional builders.
“Any nation bereft of building code is vulnerable to inappropriate building construction. Stakeholders in the Nigerian built environment have, for long, been orchestrating the need for building construction in Nigeria to be guided by the National Building Code”, Awobodu stated.
For Otunba Fatai Isola Osikoya, founding father and former president of NIOB, “Insincerity of purpose on the part of the government at all levels is responsible for building collapse in the country”.
Making this known when the College of Fellows of NIOB led by Kunle Awobodu, NIOB president, paid him a courtesy visit as part of activities marking builders’ day, Osikoya who is the number one builder in the NIOB’s membership register, said “We have been clamouring for use of professionals in the building construction industry.
“In those days, before you start a building project, you must engage an architect for architectural drawings to suit the land. Structural engineer must come in to do structural designs to ensure structural stability of the structure and an engineer must be engaged to do the engineering drawings of the project. All these professionals must append their signatures to the project before it was approved in those days. But now, governments approve building projects without the signatures of relevant professionals”, Osikoya noted.
In his remark, Prof. Kunle Adewahab, a fellow of NIOB, said every professional has his or her responsibility towards building construction, adding that builders must ensure that sub-contractors hired by them carry out their jobs satisfactorily, just as professionals must jointly monitor buildings across the country to ascertain faulty buildings to avert collapse.
For Mrs. Bolanle Araba, Chairman, College of Fellows, NIOB, “The institute has been clamouring for involvement of professional builders in building construction. Let the government see us as the people certified to handle building construction in the country.
Until this is done, the nation will continue to have incidents of building collapse in the country”.