OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE OCCASION OF THE PUBLIC HEARING BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON HOUSING ON THE NEED TO PROSECUTE BUILDING LAWS VIOLATORS, ON 8TH FEBRUARY, 2017
1. It is my pleasure to welcome stakeholders and members of the public to this very important Public Hearing being conducted by the Senate Committee on Housing on the Need to Prosecute Building Laws Violators.
2. Our people have in recent times endured unacceptable incidences of building collapse which have sadly claimed the lives of a number of our citizens. Many cases of building collapses have been recorded with about many lives lost, yet very few people are held responsible.
3. Cases of building collapses are not peculiar to our nation. Across the world building development practitioners are working hard to reduce these incidences to the barest minimum. The rate of occurrence and the intensity of damage are low in the advanced nations where strict controls, enforcement of the codes and high ethics of professionalism are made imperative. In our country, the principal causes of these collapses are non-compliance to the building laws, use of unskilled artisans, poor supervision, inferior materials, ignorance, lack of maintenance, misuse of structures, conflicts among professionals and corruption.
4. The lack of enforcement of our building laws and flagrant violations is directly connected to the exacerbation of this problem. It could also be said that the non-adherence to this laws may also be linked to the other problems we see now with the constant infernos being recorded at market places across the country and other public places and other housing disasters. Other related challenges includethe absence of planning of towns and cities, dearth of referenced design standards for professionals, use of non-professionals and quacks, use of untested products and materials and lack of maintenance culture.
5. At a time when our housing need is on the increase, we must maintain a modernised, efficient and user-friendly statutory building control regime to meet the housing development needs of Nigerians. As such, the need to review enforcement policy against building problems that are of public concern in order to enhance building safety cannot be over-emphasised.
6. Therefore, we must embark on proactive steps by mustering enough political will to allow the Town Planning authorities perform their functions unfettered. As politicians, stakeholders, the press, members of the civil society organisations and Nigerians, we all have various roles to play in tackling building collapse phenomenon in Nigeria. Building construction is a delicate, sophisticated and complex process; where failures to adhere strictly to laid-down procedures can only amount to an avoidable huge damage and loss of lives. This, we can no longer afford, all concerned individuals in building construction should ensure that they acquire adequate training and knowledge to understand the techniques of construction so as to reduce and subsequently eliminate these housing disasters. The press should also lay more emphasis by enlightening the public at large on the consequences of violating the building laws.
7. On our part as the legislative arm of government we shall do our best to ensure the speedy passage of the National Building Code and make certain that the necessary legal frameworks are passed and more aggressive oversight scheme employed to forestall the continued reoccurrence of this unsavoury trend.
8. Working together we shall all rid our country of this menace, if not in its entirety but bring to the barest minimum the occurrence of these disasters and also very importantly purge the construction industry of all forms of unsafe and negligent acts in the construction processes.
9. Distinguished Senators and invited guests, this forum should provide a platform for us to undertake a detailed and thorough investigation by engaging all the relevant stakeholders with a view of finding possible and lasting solution to these preventable housing disasters.
10. I wish you very successful deliberations as I formally declare this Public Hearing open.
11. May God bless you all and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE