By TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA
“I HAVE been their pastor for several years and I know them on a personal level. They were more than wonderful people; very nice, intelligent and friendly. They relate well with everybody; but the major problem was their mum. She was so protective of the girls and made sure they are always locked indoors because of the sudden death of their father few years ago.
“Despite consistent counseling, she always made the children feel they have spiritual enemies, especially among neighbours, which was why she failed to heed the warning of her flat-mates that the building was about to collapse.”
This was how Pastor Joseph Adebamowo of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, described the death of two sisters, Toyin and Bukky Coker, after their building – Block M20, Jakande Housing Estate, Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos – collapsed in the early hours of Wednesday. Their mother, Mrs. Coker, who was pulled out of the rubble unconscious and was immediately rushed to the hospital, is already well and stable, according to hospital sources at the estate’s health centre.
The building, Block M20, according to eyewitnesses, started showing cracks and signs of sinking over a year ago. Occupants in Flats 2 and 4 managed to escape barely minutes before the building collapsed. Tenants in Flats 2 and 6 had reportedly moved out some months ago, only for the owner of Flat 2 to lease the flat out to new occupants.
After the incident, youths in the area began a rescue mission. Mrs. Coker in her unconscious state was said to be the first to be brought out from the debris at about 3am and was immediately rushed to the estate PHC. Bukola’s body, in her nightgown, was reportedly brought out at about 5am, while that of Toyin came an hour later, stone dead.
THE collapse of the two-storey building at Isolo has raised calls for urgent structural weakness test to be carried out on the housing estates in Oke-Afa, Ipaja, Epe, Lekki, Iba and Agege built over three decades ago. Some of the buildings had become structurally defective. The communal nature of ownership and the relax supervision by estate owners had compromised the maintenance of the buildings.
However, president of the Jakande Estate Residents’ Association, Oke-Afa, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Olabanji Taiwo, said there were defects in the construction of the building. “After the building collapsed, we noticed that the foundation was very poor, 8mm of blocks was used for the decking and the mixture of sand and cement was nothing to write home about.
“It is unfortunate we have to lose two promising children, but we are baffled with the antics of the Lagos State Building and Control Agency (LASBCA), the agency set up to build and manage these buildings. They promised to be here today (Friday) to conduct integrity test on the buildings, but we were told the test has been rescheduled to next week Wednesday.
“Our position remains that any building that fails the test would have to go, while those that pass the test would remain. But those affected will have to be relocated because the building was sold to them by government.
“The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) was supposed to be with us at the meeting on Wednesday when this incident happened but unfortunately, another building collapsed at Dolphin Estate that same day.
“If it was a private building that collapsed, everybody would have rained curses on the developer, but what becomes of the property built and supervised by government with the multitude of qualified engineers that approved this building. We want our people to be relocated and given another building because this place was sold to them outrightly.
“They sent a text message to cancel the appointment, how are we sure they are coming on Wednesday? The governor must swing into action and wade into this matter. It must not be left for the civil servants to handle alone because we don’t understand them anymore.”
Chairman of the affected zone, Benson Nwandoko, told The Guardian that the affected occupants had written three letters to the government agency for over a year to be relocated. “Up till the building collapsed, there was no response,” he said.
THE low-cost housing estates was a fallout of the 1978 campaign tour of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, first executive governor of Lagos State during which he encountered the squalor and poverty many people lived in then. He discovered that most people within the low-income bracket did not have access to comfortable houses.
Deeply touched by this, Jakande on assumption of office in 1979 initiated a housing policy meant to take care of those who ordinarily would have been unable to build their own houses, particularly the civil servants. By 1980, the first of the housing estates in 16 locations was commissioned at Amuwo-Odofin. Each of the estates was a community of high-rise buildings made up of two and three bedroom flats.
Three decades after, this gesture has been abused and the vision that brought it into existence appears to have petered out. A visit to the estates will make one weep. The picture that confronts one is that of total decay, dilapidation and complete neglect. The estates are fast becoming slums with many of its residents, most of whom are retirees, now finding it difficult to maintain them.
Cracks are very visible, plastering failing, and roofs are leaking. Flooding in these estates has done enormous damage to the buildings, especially in some parts of Isolo and Agege. Dirt, filth, acute shortages of basic social amenities and infrastructural decay has crept in on the once vibrant estates.
Not even the residents’ decision to form associations with a view to tackling maintenance challenges could provide enduring answer to the degradation of the estates. Some residents’ association even partner with private firms to renovate or ‘reno-paint’ the structures, but that still seems far from the expected solutions.
According to a resident of Oke-Afa estate, Ademola Ogunwale, the present state of the Jakande estates is a shame to the occupants. “It is a total affront to the legacy of an administration whose leader is still alive. They look more like a refugee camps than an estate. Government cannot be held responsible for this.
“When my mum bought this place, we did a lot of work and fixed so many things before moving in. It was an outright purchase and once the keys have been handed over to you, the new owner is in charge of maintenance. Occupants should be blamed for the eyesore those houses have become.
“The state government can intervene by repairing the roads in the estates but the onus is on the occupants of the units to come together and give a facelift to the houses. They owe this duty to the elder statesman who bequeathed the estates as a legacy for posterity,” he said.
By Tope Templer Olaiya
A Nigerian, Nurudeen Bakare, has become the first Masters Degree student to graduate with distinction in Computing with e-Business Technology at the University of Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. He was also presented with the prestigious AGD award on last Thursday as the best overall research student in the School of Computing and Technology at the university.
Nurudeen, who hails from Belemure Compound, Isale-Ijebu in Ibadan, Oyo State, is a graduate of Computer Science from the University of Ibadan. Before the commencement of his Masters programme, Nurudeen was a business software developer with three years working experience in business computing industry in Nigeria. He has been actively involved in business software development for some top-rated firms in the country.
Encomiums have, however, continued to be showered on Nurudeen from various quarters on his achievement. According to the Director of Studies of the School of Computing and Technology, Dr. Vicky Bush, “Bakare was not only a committed student but he also played an important role within his course by acting as a student representative. He contributed in class, worked hard and was a pleasure to have on the course.”
Nurudeen had his primary school education at Public Day School, Elekuro, Ibadan, between 1986 and 1992. He later attended Adekile Goodwill Grammar School, Ibadan for his secondary school education between 1992 and 1998. He had a National Diploma from Federal Polytechnic Ede, Osun State in 2003, and his bachelor degree from the University of Ibadan in 2007.
In an online chat with The Guardian, Nurudeen mentioned that his role model in the computing industry is the late co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc, Steve Jobs. On his future plans, he hopes to continue to develop his career in e-business and business computing with focus on e-Banking, ERP and CRM.
By TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA
THE death of nine-month-old Abunene Osezua Emmanuel last week Monday at Masters Ville Children School crèche is not only giving parents of the boy great anguish but also raising questions as to the cause of death in the hands of care-givers at the school located at No 11, Asa Afariogun Street, Ajao Estate, Lagos.
On the morning of November 12 at about 7.00 am, late Abunene, who according to his parents, was in good state of health was handed over to a staff of the crèche. At about 10:05am on the same day, a call was put through to the boy’s mother by the head teacher that young Abunene had been rushed to the hospital. But on arrival at the Faith City Hospital, located few metres from the school on the same street, the mother was informed by doctors that the boy was brought in dead.
While the school authorities say the boy was being fed when he choked and efforts were thereafter made to take him to the nearest hospital, father of the deceased, Mr. Abunene Anthony, is accusing Masters Ville of malicious murder of his son, who doctors confirmed was brought in dead to the hospital.
In a tear-soaked voice, Anthony told The Guardian that his son is suspected to have died from overdose of sleeping pills given to the boy. “Immediately after the incident happened, I was reliably informed by a neighbour who withdrew her daughter from the same crèche when she discovered they usually give children brought to the school sleeping tablets to make them sleep off until when they are ready to be collected.
“This is why I have decided not to let sleeping dogs lie and I am taking this matter to court. Though I have hastily buried my son, I am fighting this course because other people’s children are at risk and children are taken to daycare centres everyday of the week. If the negligent actions of care-givers are not checked, only God knows who next would be victim of their improper acts. Instead of the proprietor of the school to show remorse, they are busy looking for the best lawyers to defend them.”
IN a petition sent to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, a copy of which was obtained by The Guardian at the weekend, Anthony is requesting that justice be done and the perpetrators of the death of his son be brought to book. “We don’t want this matter to be swept under the carpet. This is why we are requesting that the school be closed down pending when investigations and trial of the case in court is concluded and they are judged competent to run a school.
“We also request that the owner of Master Ville School and the staff on duty on November 12, 2012, namely Mrs. Dauda and Mrs. Ijere be arrested and charged for the murder of our son in order to ensure that justice prevails in this case,” the statement read.
When The Guardian visited the Ajao Estate Police Command at the weekend, the DPO confirmed the arrest and detention of the proprietress and care-giver who was on duty on the day the incident occurred, but investigations gathered revealed that the proprietress was later released on health grounds.
By Tope Templer Olaiya
Today (November 18) is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Introduced by RoadPeace in the United Kingdom in 1993 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2005, the third Sunday in November every year is set aside to acknowledge victims of road traffic crashes and recognise the plight of their relatives, who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of the tragic events.
The day focuses on both the overall scale and the devastation caused on individuals by road deaths and injuries, plus the impact on families and communities around the world. It also offers families and friends the opportunity to come together to remember loved ones, highlight the death toll and reflect on what can be done to prevent future deaths.
According to available statistics, road traffic crashes kill nearly 1.3 million people every year and injure or disable as many as 50 million more. They are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years.
Almost 4,000 people are killed and hundreds of thousands injured on roads throughout the world daily.
Many more have to cope with bereavement or the effects of injury and thus become part of the huge group of people affected by road carnage. Every 20 seconds somewhere in the world, a father, mother, son, daughter, colleague or friend is killed in a road traffic crash. For every person killed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates another four will suffer long term life changing injury.
In Nigeria, the day’s commemoration has been muted since 2005 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on governments to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The gap is being filled by nongovernmental organizations, who are using the day to draw public attention to road traffic crashes, their consequences and costs, and the measures, which can be taken to prevent them.
COMEMMORATING this year’s event, Steerite Driving School will from tomorrow till Wednesday hold 90 minutes sessions on the 3Ds of road traffic crashes, which are drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving.
With the theme How Not To Be A Victim, organisers hope to enlighten, create awareness and focus on the needless consequences of road users’ actions, while impacting and sharpening participants’ hazard perception skills, which are crucial to collision avoidance and crash preventability.
The proprietor of the school, Mr. Akinfe Samuel, said beyond declarations, there should be strategies to achieving resolutions made by the world body. “This is the gap we are filling because regulatory agencies are not living up to their billing. As a driving school, we do our best to give qualitative lessons to learners and corporate drivers. After two weeks, they are released to handle the wheel in a hostile environment.
“We decided to go beyond those we train and reach out to the public with free sessions on safe driving because of the inherent danger in releasing learners into a hostile environment like Lagos where there are little respect for road users by drivers and motorcyclists.”
Lagos State Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer, Mr. Gbolahan Toriola, noted that for an accident to occur, three things must contribute to it: the road, vehicle and the driver, “and all lie with the driver, who controls the other factors. Safety lies in our hands and government cannot do it alone.
“While we may complain about bad roads, I think it’s a blessing in disguise because the high spate of accidents abroad is because of good roads, where most drivers tend to over-speed and as a result crash their vehicles, many of which find their way into the country,” he said.
Former military administrator of old Ondo State, Rear Admiral Sunday Abiodun Olukoya (Rtd), called for support for the new Lagos State Traffic Laws. According to him, Fashola has not reinvented the wheel. “He has only added bite to already existing laws, which is all in the bid to make our roads safer. We grew up in an environment where everybody was safe and you could move free on the road because drivers respected the road and other road users.
“The good old days has given way to chaos, a situation the governor is trying hard to redress. And as citizens, we must give him our support on this because for every road crash, there are three categories of victims: those who die, those injured and the many others traumatized by the incident.”
Partnering with the Nigerians Unite For Road Safety (NUFORSA), Steerlite Driving School is using this year’s commemoration to seek the following from government: recognition of the special day for road traffic victims; erection of a national memorial to road crash victims; funding for key remembrance events; ensure crash investigation institutions are functioning; and ensuring justice, care and support for injured road crash victims and bereaved families.
Others include introducing and enforcing speed limits on relevant roads; making road safety a police priority; introducing the strict liability law to protect vulnerable road users with a compensation plan; legislate articulated vehicle operations such as frequent trainings and installing wide-angle mirrors; and allocating funding to organizations supporting road crash victims and post-crash rescue.
Tips For Road Users
Never speed or tailgate (bumper to bumper).
Never go through red lights.
Never drink or drug drive.
Never hit and run.
Never use a phone while driving or any other distractions.
Always wear a safety belt and helmet.
Give more consideration to vulnerable road users.
Install speed limiters in own car.
Provide aids for crash victims on the road.
From Itunu Ajayi, Abuja
‘Give us our daily bread’ is a common saying in Christendom and bread is the primary staple food on the menu of most homes in Nigeria. Unlike in most countries of the world, the quality of bread one eats in Nigeria depends largely on its price, which is a function of the environment it was prepared from and other ingredients added besides flour, fat and water.
It is usual to see truck pushers, wood heavers and other artisans munching away a loaf as they go about their business, which makes it a lucrative venture for those in the business of baking bread.
However, majority of bread found on the streets of cities and villages in the country are produced from doubtful environments unwholesome for human consumption.
One of such places is Divine Grace Bakery in Dutse-Alhaji, one of the satellite towns surrounding the seat of power in Abuja. The bakery is located in a residential area inaccessible with a vehicle and surrounded by filth. Beside the bakery is a toilet and an enclosure where wastewater is stagnated, breeding mosquitoes.
Ironically, most of the people in the area do not really care about the hygienic state of the bakery. According to them, they do not have the means to buy the so-called hygienic ones. They have found solace in the hotness of the bread when it is freshly baked and relish the taste so much that paying attention to the environment is an extra burden that is not worth the while.
A resident, Alero Julius, notes that the environment of the bakery is not different from the filthy state of the satellite town.
“The whole town is an eyesore. I moved in here few months ago when the trouble in Mpape started. The only good thing about Dutse is the major road passing through the area because it leads to Bwari where there are lots of government establishments including the Nigerian Law School, JAMB office and a federal government college.”
Another resident, Adakole Godswill, said the composition of the black race is largely made up of men with strong immunity and as such, dirt or food prepared in unhygienic environment is not capable of causing death. “Have you ever seen anyone killed by dirty environment in Nigeria? I think God knew beforehand that we would have bad leaders, so He decided to give us so much immunity against sickness and filthy surroundings.
“The issue is not about bakery alone. I am from Benue State but I have never seen environments as dirty as the towns and villages around the federal capital. If there were jobs where I came from, I would not be here, but what can man do. Honestly, if dirt kills, majority of Abuja dwellers would have been dead today, leaving behind the big men residing in Asokoro and Maitama.”
Akpan James went comical when he said “man no die, man no rotten, my sister nothing dey happen, we dey chop am, we dey fat inside.”
“Anybody seeing the filth around here would be worried about the outbreak of epidemic, but it is as if God, who is the father of the defenseless, has been good to us. However, we should not outstretch His love. I just retired from civil service and I will be leaving for home soon, at least to breathe fresh air. The whole environment is polluted and the fresh air the president promised Nigerians is nowhere visible in Abuja.
For Solomon Adesina, it is better for one not to see the environment where food items are being prepared in Nigeria. “I don’t know the source of the bread I buy but I have made up my mind concerning bread long ago not to buy any bread not sliced and packaged from the bakery.
“Sliced bread are baked with electric oven and sliced electronically not by hand. Through that, some level of hygiene is employed. Though it might not be 100 percent, it is at least better than the bread being carried around on the back of motorcycles that are not covered. And remember, you don’t get to wash bread before eating, which makes matters worse.”