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.
NiMet predicts cloudiness, thunderstorm across Nigeria
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted cloudiness and thunderstorm from Sunday to Tuesday across the country.
NiMet`s weather outlook released on Saturday in Abuja predicted sunny skies with patches of clouds over the northern region with few thunderstorms over Taraba in the morning hours.
According to it, there are prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Taraba, Adamawa and Kaduna later in the day.
“Partly cloudy skies are anticipated over the North central region with prospects of thunderstorms over part of Benue during the morning hours.
“There are chances of thunderstorms over parts of Kwara, Kogi, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory in the afternoon to evening period.
“Isolated thunderstorms are expected over some southern states like Ondo, Edo, Imo, Enugu, Ogun, Osun, Delta, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Lagos in the morning hours,“ it said.
The agency forecast thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Ondo, Osun and the coastal belt of the country later in the day.
NiMet envisages partly cloudy to sunny skies on Monday over the Northern region throughout the day with prospects of a few thunderstorms over parts of Taraba and Adamawa states in the afternoon and evening hours.
It anticipates cloudy skies with intervals of sunshine over the North central region in the morning hours.
“Further into the day, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kwara, Benue and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The inland and the coastal cities of the South should be cloudy with prospects of thunderstorms over Bayelsa, Cross River, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states in the morning hours.
“Later in the day, there are prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Ondo, Edo, Enugu, Ogun and the coastal belt of the country,“ it said.
NiMet predicts partly cloudy to sunny skies over the Northern region throughout the forecast period on Tuesday.
It further predicted partly cloudy skies over the North central region in the morning hours with isolated thunderstorms over parts of Benue, Kogi and Kwara states in the afternoon and evening hours.
“The inland and the coastal cities of the South should be predominantly cloudy during the morning hours.
“Later in the day, there are chances of thunderstorms over parts of Ondo, Imo, Edo and the coastal cities,“ it said.
WHO reports global shortfall in mental health investment
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new Mental Health Atlas paints a disappointing picture of a worldwide failure to provide people with the mental health services they need.
In a statement made available on Saturday, it said it happened at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was highlighting a growing need for mental health support.
“World misses most 2020 mental health targets; extension of WHO Mental Health Action Plan to 2030 provides new opportunity for progress reading time, four minutes (1003 words).
“The latest edition of the atlas, which includes data from 171 countries, provides a clear indication that the increased attention given to mental health in recent years has yet to result in a scale-up of quality mental services that is aligned with needs,” the global health agency said.
According to WHO, the Atlas is a compilation of data provided by countries around the world on mental health policies, issued every three years.
Others are legislation, financing, human resources, availability and utilisation of services and data collection systems.
According to the global health body, it is also the mechanism for monitoring progress towards meeting the targets in WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.
“It is extremely concerning that, despite the evident and increasing need for mental health services, which has become even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, good intentions are not being met with investment.
“We must heed and act on this wake-up call and dramatically accelerate the scale-up of investment in mental health, because there is no health without mental health,” it quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, as saying.
The statement said that none of the targets for effective leadership and governance for mental health, provision of mental health services in community-based settings, mental health promotion and prevention, and strengthening of information systems, were close to being achieved.
It said that in 2020, just 51 per cent of WHO’s 194 member states reported that their mental health policy or plan was in line with international and regional human rights instruments, way short of the 80 per cent target.
It said that only 52 per cent of countries met the target relating to mental health promotion and prevention programmes, also well below the 80 per cent target.
WHO noted that the only 2020 target met was a reduction in the rate of suicide by 10 per cent, but even then, only 35 countries said they had a stand-alone prevention strategy, policy or plan.
It said that steady progress was evident, however, in the adoption of mental health policies, plans and laws, as well as in improvements in capacity to report on a set of core mental health indicators.
It said that, however, the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has scarcely changed during the last years, still hovering around two per cent.
Vigilante Group Kills Imam, 10 Others In Sokoto
Gunmen suspected to be members of the outlawed Yan Sakai, a vigilance group in Sokoto State, have killed 11 persons, including an Imam, at Mamande village in Gwadabawa local government of Sokoto State.
Our reporter gathered that the victims died on the spot while four persons who sustained gunshot injuries were taken to a hospital by the local government council for treatment.
The Imam who was identified as Malam Aliyu was said to be leading prayers in one of the daily prayer Mosques in Salame.
The incident happened at about 3:30pm on Thursday.
The victims were said to have come from different Fulani settlements around the area to purchase food and other items at the weekly Mamande market.
The Yan Sakai were said to have stormed the market from Goronyo Local Government Area, attacking the victims whom they accused of aiding banditry.
A relative of the Imam, Abdullahi Riskuwa, said his brother was killed unjustifiably because he never had any criminal record.
“He is sound in religion knowledge and had been leading prayers in one of our mosques in Salame town.”
“His only sin was that he belonged to the Fulani tribe.”
According to Riskuwa, Imam Aliyu only went to the market to buy goods when he was killed.
Among those killed at the market, he said, were children and the Yan Sakai went away with their animals.
He called on the government to investigate the matter with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
The state chairman of Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, could not be reached for comment as his telephone line was not reachable when our correspondent attempted to speak with him.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Gwadabawa local government, Aminu Aya, confirmed the attack, saying the Yan Sakai were not from Gwadabawa.
According to him, the deceased were deposited at the Morgue of Specialist Hospital, Sokoto, and some of their relatives went there to recover their corpses.
He however, said that, normalcy was restored in the area.
When contacted, the Public Relation Officer of Sokoto Police Command, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, said he had not briefed about the development but promised to get the details and call back.
However, he had not done so as at the time of filling this report.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal had prohibited the activities of Yan Sakai in the state.
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