The immediate past chairman of the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, Samson Ameh Opaluwa, has called for the enactment of a law to enforce the building code in Nigeria as a governance weapon to stop quackery and building collapse in the country.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Abuja on the rising incidences of building collapse in the country, Opaluwa, who linked the frequent collapses to governance issues, said at the moment, the entire construction works in Nigeria were only based on convention.
“The national building code has been in the National Assembly since 2006, there is no law backing me as a professional so I cannot enter your site and say why are you constructing like this, it is wrong, I can do that now because of the convention, but I cannot take you to the court or police station and say you are contravening a law because there is no law to back the code. All of us in this build environment sat down and drafted it and government through the federal ministry of housing approved it, took it to the FEC which approved it and took it to National Assembly, it’s been there since. We are not saying legislate the building code, we are saying enact the building law to make the building code enforceable.
“There should be a law to say whatever Nigerians have as a code is what must be done, that is governance. And that is why when things like this happen, government is only lamenting because it cannot really bite, and our own laws are only enforceable on our members,” he said.
He described the frequent building collapses as a national economic loss which had become an embarrassment to professionals in the country.
“In 2012, there were 33 collapses in Lagos; 22 in Abuja; in 2013, 17 in Lagos, 20 in Abuja; in 2014. 13 in Lagos, two in Abuja; in 2017, 54 all over Nigeria. But I will make bold to say that in all these collapses we have not found any builder culpable because we are not as a nation developers or those who put up buildings do not engage the appropriate professionals. So when people recognise quacks this is what you get, it is an embarrassment to us as professionals because we are all over the country.
“There must be adequate governance procedures in the country to help us eliminate quackery, there should be regulatory control and monitoring. This is what advanced countries do.
“I feel very bad for the loss of lives, my heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones, the developer and the Lagos State government, I also feel for Nigeria because the international community is watching us,” he said.
He called for accountability on building failures and appropriate government action as even panels are set up after a collapse, the outcomes are hardly ever known.