Kunle Sadat Omo’ba though not a real name was screaming deep down underneath as a result of the three-storey that collapsed on him few years ago in Lagos, the commercial center of Nigeria and Africa in general. However, the more he screamed on top of his voice calling on people to come to his rescue, the more passersby kept using all the available tools to evacuate the debris of the building that collapsed on him and other occupants of the building that were forcefully and accidentally buried without any trace. In the midst of all this tragic-comedy, a passerby who couldn’t hide his anger as a result of what he went through in the hands of fake civil engineers as we later learnt, was so angry that he called on the Nigerian government to introduce a policy to ensure that proper things are put in place while erecting a structure as big as the very upstairs that collapsed on the occupants.
Honestly, the case of Lagos building collapse is just one out of many. Almost on monthly basis or even weekly, somehow or somewhere, the news of building collapse in Nigeria must appear on Nigerian media platform. Nevertheless, a concerned Nigerian maybe right to ask whether we should continue like that when there are laws already in place to put an end to those who are bent on using sub-standard materials to erect buildings. Of course, we have laws that regulate buildings smin Nigeria. But, some Nigerians who felt they are laws to themselves never care to go in line with the laid down procedure for building a house or structure in Nigeria, rather they use a road side quack with no traceable address whom as a result of idleness and quest for quick money will just wake up over night to adopt a title of an architect or civil engineer what amesmerisation of the architectural and civil engineering profession in Nigeria. To be candid, the whole thing is painful and at the same time laughable. Haba, it’s only here in Nigeria that an accounting graduate who has nothing to do at the building site other than to pay the workers on site, will claim to be the one in charge of the architectural designs and even erecting of the structure itself. What an irony and bastardisation of the agency mandated to regulate building construction in Nigeria.
Well, if I am to talk so much on the unprofessional lifestyles of most hungry Nigerians parading themselves as architects and civil engineers, time will fail me to write on the emergence of Architect Sonny Togo Echono, the 28th National President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects. In all conscience, to say Architect Echono is ably qualified to pilot the affairs of Nigerian Institute of Architects is as good as asking an artillery war commander whether he or she knows how to operate AK47 bazooka gun. Echono is over 100% competent to pilot the affairs of the organisation, especially in view of his current position as Federal Civil Service Permanent Secretary of one of the most highly task demanding, sensitive and most lucrative ministry in Nigeria. I am talking about the Federal Ministry of Education. Echono, as permsec, has in all ramifications used his immeasurable intellectual prowess to transform the ministry across borders ranging from the upgrade of the infrastructure with the ministry covering all the government owned higher institutions as well as public unity schools in all the six geo-political zones in Nigeria. Staff welfare is also not left out as well as numerous other landmark achievements that couldn’t appear here due to space constraints.
This is why when the members of the Nigerian Institute of Architects found him worthy to be their national president, many Nigerians that are aware of his pragmatic leadership qualities never saw it as amazing because of his highly beneficial and life transforming exploits in the past and even at the moment. The landmark exploits have indeed upgraded both the economy and the infrastructural sector of the country beyond imagination. That is why so many of them never hesitate to describe his nomination as the best thing that has so far happened to the association since its establishment in 1960 . Echono, no doubt, will instill discipline and professionalism to ensure strict adherence to standard in the housing sector in Nigeria, which will certainly attract a lot of investors even from outside the country and as well guarantee highly qualitative building materials to be used in building construction. And as envisaged by most of these analysts, Echono is indeed ready to deploy his professional prowess to achieve best results in the housing sector in Nigeria and even beyond in order to avoid incessant building collapse which has caused loss of many lives, properties and huge sums of money.
Meanwhile, the newly sworn in Nigerian Institute of Architect president is an alumnus of the Amadu Bello University with professional experience of over four decades. He has held several life transforming and professionally impact positions even as a public servant. Few among them are; Secretary Implementation Committee on National Housing Policy, Secretary Special Projects Task Force, Secretary Committee on Lands and Housing, Chief Executive Architect in charge of Administration of the Department , Head Council Affairs and Parastatals and as well Secretary Ministerial Tenders Board.
Ekpo is an Abuja based media consultant and a public commentators.