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National Building Code is like a toothless bulldog without NASS backing



Mr Alih Ogwu Hassan is a chartered builder and President of Rotary Club, Omole Golden. In this exclusive interview with Associate Editor, Dada Jackson, he bares his mind on the National Building Code and building college, among other topical issues. Excerpts.


What is your take on the issue of incessant building collapse across the country?

Thank you very much for this all-important question. The issue of building collapse is one of the most difficult challenges facing construction professionals. It is a worrisome development which needs to be addressed urgently. Over the years, buildings have continued to collapse and now it is time to take the bull by the horns. Professionals in the built environment have been brainstorming on way out of this quagmire. Let me make it abundantly clear here that buildings that are yet to be put in place can equally collapse. You may want to ask me, how. This can happen from the design stage. If there is an error in the design process, you are bound to have a defective structure which may likely collapse.

How do we stem this ugly tide?

The way out of this ugly phenomenon is located in two broad aspects. First, government has a role to play; and second, we as professionals equally have our own role to play. On the government part, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria(SON) should wake up to its responsibility by ensuring that quality building materials are allowed into the country by importers of building materials. They should insist on monitoring the types of materials that are imported into the country. Officials of the agency should censor the materials that come into the market. By so doing, the developers who patronise these markets would be availed with quality materials instead of substandard ones. On the part of the professionals, the right professionals should be engaged in the construction process to avoid building collapse.

It should be pointed out here that another factor that should be urgently addressed is the desire to maximise profits on the part of businessmen also known as developers who engage in construction. This quest for profit sometimes leads to cutting corners by using substandard materials, thereby endangering the lives of the people.


What is your take on the National Building Code that is taking eternity to come to pass?

It is something that as construction experts, we have been agitating for over the years. Let me make it abundantly clear that without the backing of the National Assembly, the NBC will just be like a toothless bulldog. The draft code needs to be urgently looked into by members of NASS with a view to giving it a speedy passage if only the country cares about mitigating the effects of building collapse in the country. The NBC is a beautiful document which defines the role of each professional in the built environment.

What do you think is stalling it from seeing the light of day?

A lot of interests are involved but the most important of these is the issue of having businessmen and some powerful politicians going into the construction business. Since the code defines the roles of each professional in the construction process there is the tendency for those who are not core professionals to wanting to stall its passage. My plea is that politics should not be allowed to stall this beautiful document which is like a Bible to professionals in the built environment.

Do you subscribe to the view that there should a resident builder at construction sites?

Yes, absolutely. This is very germane to the construction process. With a resident builder at any construction site, there is the likelihood or at least a tendency for minimal fear of an impending building collapse because his presence would ensure that the right things are done and the tendency to wanting to cut corners by the developer would be largely minimised, if not totally curtailed. So, I am in total agreement with the school of thought which advocates that a resident builder must always be at construction sites.

Is there any rift amongst the professionals in the built environment as to who leads the process?

Not that I know; there is no need for that because each professional’s role is clearly defined. There is no need for any tussle as to who leads the team.

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LASG stakeholders review Osborne Foreshore Residential Scheme 11 approval order



By Dada Jackson

It was a case of disagreeing to agree as Lagos State Government and stakeholders of Osborne Foreshore Residential Scheme II eventually came to terms on the review of the approval order of the porch estate after much deliberations in which they agreed to allow the process to continue.

Speaking at the Stakeholders’ Meeting/ Presentation on the Review of the Approval Order for Osborne Foreshore Residential Scheme II at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Secretariat, Alausa, the  Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, said that residents of Osborne Foreshore II, conceived as a low-density residential scheme, had clamoured for the  review by approaching the Ministry to decrease the permissible height among other changes to the previous approval order.

He said, “Consequently, several discussions were held with their Representatives, which culminated in the meeting with Mr. Governor and ultimately the ongoing review.”

Salako noted that the crave for the review of the extant approval order was not unconnected with the observed disparities in the Approval Order of Osborne Foreshore II and that of Banana Island, Ikoyi Southeast and Ikoyi Southwest, despite being of similar status and character.

He pointed out that the need for the review of the Operational Development Plan could not be overemphasized as it would afford timely bridging of identified gaps and inadequacies such as omissions or commissions, in order to make the Plan more comprehensive and effective.

His words: “In essence, Plan Review is a conscious intervention to make an operational Developmental Plan more effective for the Plan Area to be more functional as best possible”.

The Commissioner emphasised that the Ministry was statutorily empowered to prepare Development Plans for different areas as well as provide Approval Orders that were more specific on the intended use, density and operation of the identifiable segments of an area.

He said, “In like manner, the ministry is also statutorily charged to review the existing Development Plans which have been adjudged to be outdated or no longer relevant to achieving the stated goals. Indeed, this is one of the powers of the Hon. Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development as stated in Section 5(1) (a & c) and Section 6 (1) of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2019 (as amended), which allows for the review/amendment of Development Plans every five (5) years.”

Salako reiterated that the ministry as a government formation was charged with the mandate for sustainability of the physical environment, while the power of development control was vested in the state government and not in any other entity such as the residents association.

“It is therefore noteworthy that the Operative Development Plans are sacrosanct and that the use of any space within the plan area can only be altered through due process of an official review,  contrary to which a change in use becomes illegal. There are provisions in the law for sanctioning of erring development/developers,” he said.

Stating that the government had the obligation to ensure that every part of the state was committed to appropriate use, in order to achieve common social good, economic viability and environmental sustainability, Salako said that the Operative Development Plans had been prepared with due cognizance of the socioeconomic dynamics and the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2019 as amended.

Residents of the estate include the Chairman of the Board of Trustee of the Residents Association, Sir Steve Omojafor, and a seasoned public relations practitioner, Mr Kola Ayanwale, expressed confidence in the ability of the state government to come up with a plan that would be fair to all sides, while urging developers and investors in the estate to balance economics with the environment.

The Chairperson, Osborne Foreshore Residents Association, Chinwe Ezenwa, enjoined the government to consider leaving the estate as low- density to forestall slumming, while others who were mainly developers expressed preference for increasing hieght and density of the estate.

Other notable figures at the meeting include the Chairman, House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development, Hon. Nureni Akinsanya, Member of Lagos House of Assembly representing the area, Hon. Gbolahan Yishau, Former Deputy Governor of Kogi State,   Arc. Yomi Awoniyi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Abiola Kosegbe, and Deputy Director, Urban and Regional Planning, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Mrs Catherine Ozonde.

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Lagos moves against illegal building conversion in govt schemes



By Dada Jackson

The Lagos State Government has restated its commitment to restoring government residential schemes in the state to their original plans as it communicates its intention to commence a week-long monitoring and enforcement in Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1 and Magodo Residential Scheme I and II.

It says it will focus on those who have indiscriminately converted their buildings from residential to commercial.

The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, who dropped the hint in his office at Alausa, stated that government schemes ought to remain residential with provision for services as planned but the schemes had been bastardised by indiscriminate conversion of buildings from residential to commercial by some of the residents.

He added that if the pervasive lawlessness in these estates was allowed to go on, the future would spell doom for the carefully designed upper-income residential schemes.

Salako noted that well-meaning residents had inundated the state government with complaints and sought  a redress of the untoward situation.

The commissioner recalled that the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development had engaged and dialogue with residents of the estates severally with a view to righting the wrongs.

“It is noteworthy that engagements with Magodo Phases I and II Residents Association produced the Revised Magodo Scheme I and II which has since become effective”, he said.

He emphasised that indiscriminate conversion of government schemes from residential  to commercial would not be tolerated in Lagos State and urged those liable of any unlawful conversion to brace for the ministry’s enforcement activities.

“Our monitoring and enforcement team will be visiting all other government schemes for similar action in due course. I hereby urge that every part of the state should take a cue from this by desisting from undue conversion of properties without approval of the appropriate authorities,” he said.

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LASG denies violation of planning laws in Osborne Foreshore/Magodo estate



By Dada Jackson

The Lagos State Government has denied a social media allegation that it is condoning the violation of physical planning laws by some developers in both the Osborne Foreshore Phase II and Peace Valley Estate, Magodo.

The Lagos State Government’s position is contained in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako, in Alausa.

One Mr Yacoob Abiodun, who claimed to be an urban planner/planning advocate, had taken to the social media alleging that residents of Osborne Foreshore Phase II and Peace Valley Zone, Magodo, were unhappy with the activities of some developers “whose developments on the two estates violate the extant Operative Development Plans and the Approval Order for the localities.”

While expressing his displeasure at the twist of facts by the writer, the Physical Planning Commissioner said that it was important to correct the misinformation to disabuse the minds of Lagosians.

Salako said contrary to the insinuations, the residents of Osborne Foreshore Phase II had  influenced the increase in height of the area from the original 4/5 to 10  floors, while Phase I still remained 4/5 floors.

He explained that the review of the Approval Order for Osborne Foreshore was precipitated by the continuous agitation of the residents as original allottees had brought about increase in the height and density of the estate.

He added that the government only came in to ensure a proper review for the benefit of all concerned.

Dismissing the allegation of noninvolvement of residents in the review, he stated that the ongoing review process was borne out of several consultations and engagements with the resident associations in line with the extant regulations guiding development planning in the state.

The commissioner added that the review could not have been more inclusive, having met with residents of the estate for more than 10 times, the outcome of which was the ministry’s encouragement of the residents association to engage a consultant, Messrs MOA Planners to prepare a revised plan along with the review sent by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

The revised plan would still be subjected to stakeholders’ engagement before final approval, he stated.

“It is therefore disheartening that despite repeated dialogue, the latest of which was held with the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, three weeks ago, the best that the Osborne-Foreshore Residents Association Phase II (OSFRA) could do was to resort to the social media to intimidate and embarrass the Lagos State Government,” Salako said.

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