Maduka Nweke, [email protected]
Although different authorities, and organisations have pledged to support victims of the Abule Ado explosion to cushion the effect of their devastation, those would hardly be enough to cover the loss suffered in the incident. The major problem in this case is not in providing food mainly, but majorly in the area of providing shelter to the thousands whose houses were destroyed The Lagos State Government through the Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo- Olu, has pledged to help rehabilitate those whose houses were effected in the debacle many are already afraid that the condition that only those who have Certificate of Occupancy (C o O) would benefit from the compensation will deny most property owners the opportunity to be resettled more so as the area has now been excised from public occupations. But that notwithstanding, the opinions of some people in some quarters point to the fact that it could have been a planned action to eject the occupants who eventually went beyond management.
Experts opined that successive authorities assigned to handle the matter variously compromised and created opportunity for the area to be occupied illegally.
They argued that the grave calamity that befell the residents of the sleepy community of Abule-Ado in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State could have been averted if the authorities did what they ought to do at the initial period.
According to them, the explosion that rocked the community could have been managed from the planning perspective and so minimised in terms of the high number of human casualties and colossal property damage.
It is therefore worrisome while counting the number of houses affected, it was found that about 86 houses were damaged with about 40 people dead in the incident that rendered 10 thousand people homeless. However, some people close to the corridors of government stated that at the critical time of the Abule-Ado explosion in Lagos, one cannot avoid keeping quiet in the face of sweeping planning infractions and open breach of extant planning laws.
According to one ananymous commentator, one is guided by sound reasoning and the dictates of Murphy’s Law, to wit: “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong…and at the worst possible moment.”
These set of people believed that if the Lagos State Government in times past and now exerts its authority over the enforcement of physical planning laws, the tragedy could have been avoided. They noted that the professionals in the Ministries of Environment, Physical Planning & Urban Development and the Infrastructure Development Agency equally share in the blame. “They either condone illegality or compromise their integrity as professionals, they argued.
Usually, the Lagos State Government professes the necessity for good urban planning and environmental sustainability but lacks the political will and moral courage to practice what it propagates. In most cases, those in the corridor of power encourage environmental abuse. They adamantly push for and turn blind eyes to physical planning abuse with impunity. Many spirited individuals among the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have, however, blamed the incessant explosions on the disagreement between States and Federal Government on ownership of land. While commending the Lagos State Government for the attention given to the place, the Chairman, (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, promised that such issues would be addressed going forward. He announced a donation of the sum of N200 million on behalf of the Nigeria Governors Forum, and expressed satisfaction that a more decent and modern community will evolve from the misfortune. He said the governors sympathise and commiserate with those who lost loved ones and properties destroyed by the unfortunate incident and expressed hope that it never occurs again.
However, the most important of it all is that cost of accommodation in that axis of Lagos will skyrocket as these people will first of all look for shelter to cover their heads. If government of Lagos State can provide emergency housing for the victims of the explosion, then the gesture will go a long way in ameliorating the impact of the disaster while the victims take time to make way for a permanent abode. It is necessary to remember that some of the buildings affected by the disaster were plazas where building materials are sold. In this way, when both the house and the materials to renovate it with is burnt, the rebuilding of the property will become more expensive. It is necessary that after the dust has settled, government should set a commission of enquiry to find out the immediate and remote causes of the disaster of the Abule Ado inferno. Investigation into this will help in dispelling the already impression going on in the social media. One of the landlords whose property was destroyed told the press even though he pleaded anonymity, he said that he saw some people around 7:00 am of that fateful Sunday morning drove a long tipper into the bushy part of the area before the main road. According to him, the tipper drove five meters into the area and stopped. “We thought that the tipper sunk into the mud so when they were bringing things from the tipper and pilling them into the ground, we thought they were trying some strategies to remove the tipper. Little did we know that they were putting something on the ground. We started panicking when we saw them signal to some soldiers around there and they took off. This swelled the rumours making round that the disaster was a planned onslaught targeted at ejecting the residents from the area,” he said.
Although, Zenith Bank Plc, donated N100 million to the Emergency Relief Fund set up by the Lagos State Government for the victims of the Abulo-Edo explosion, the concern now is that the money may not reach the real victims and different criteria will be brought to bear at the time of sharing.
The Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, made the pledge recently, when the Management of the bank visited Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the State House, Marina, Lagos to condole with him and the people of Lagos State on the unfortunate incident of March 15, 2020 which led to the loss of lives and properties at the Abule-Ado area in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of the state.