Abuja the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been hit of recent with disasters that claimed lives and property. Some of these include the three floor building collapse at Jabi District, which killed three persons and injured six others, the recent earth tremors that unsettled the nerves of residents in and around Mpape, Gwarimpa, Garki and Kubwa, as well as the flood disaster in Kobi and Kuruduma settlement that resulted in the death of three persons and swept away houses.
Much as these disasters have been worrisome and unsettling, the reactions and subsequent actions taken by the FCT Administration, headed by the Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, to calm the nerves and guard against future occurrence have been commendable to say the least. To begin with, the FCT Minister, in company of the FCT Permanent Secretary, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa proceeded straight to the Plot 711, Cadastral Zone B04, Jabi District, Abuja site of the collapsed building to do an on the spot assessment of the situation when he received news of the sad incident.
Upon inspecting the scene of the carnage and with the understanding that human lives was of utmost priority, the minister directed the immediate and comprehensive mobilisation of men and machines to the site of the disaster by both federal and FCT emergency agencies to join in the rescue efforts. More than seven earth moving machines were engaged in the operations including support equipment from Julius Berger Nigeria Plc. The Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMCC) and the Federal Capital Development Authority also joined in the rescue efforts and worked overnight with floodlights and other equipments to excavate the rubbles and rescue some of the people that were trapped in the debris.
Officials remained on the site on the directive of the minister, much after the FEMA and other agencies had called off operations, to completely remove the debris. It was as a result of the prolonged operation that the body of one Sadiq Aliu was discovered, vindicating the minister’s directive.
With rescue operations over and done with, the minister set up a panel of inquiry headed by Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Building and Road Research Institute, Prof. Danladi S. Matawal to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the Jabi building collapse and make recommendations within three weeks. The panel was also mandated to assess the level of regulation at the site and recommend appropriate sanction against any person found wanting. This is in addition to the suspension of some officers directly in charge of monitoring the project site, pending completion of investigations.
The FCT minister also demonstrated competence in manner he handled the recent incident of earth tremor in parts of the FCT. The minister who had earlier visited the epicenter of the tremor in Mpape, wasted no time in taking precautionary steps by directing the immediate stoppage of such activities that are capable of setting off disturbances within thin the earth, pending the outcome of investigations. As result, quarrying, mining and borehole drilling activities in the affected areas of Mpape, Gwarimpa and Garki districts of Abuja, were suspended pending when investigations would be concluded. The FCTA and other agencies of government also moved fast to allay the fears of residents by getting experts to confirm that Abuja does not sit on any fault line that could trigger major seismic disasters. The very vital earthquake monitoring seismograms was also procured by government to monitor ground disturbances.
These in my mind, are the attributes of pragmatic leadership. Bello is really an action minister and things are made easier with him on the saddle. To him the Jabi building collapse is a slap on the face and he has vowed to work extra hard in synergy with the building regulation agencies to prevent a reoccurrence of the ugly incident. The minister is also not leaving anything to chance as far disturbances within the crust are concerned.Truly the FCT minister deserves commendation for his personal and official sacrifices to make sure that the agonies that arose from the unfortunate disasters are cushioned.
Also deserving of commendation are the emergency response to the building collapse and earth tremor by officials from the AMCC, the FCDA, the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Road Traffic Service Department of FCTA, the Nigeria Police, the military, paramilitary and ambulance services unit of the FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat who were able to mobilise and carry out swift rescue operations which made possible for those who were injured in the case of the building collapse to be rushed to hospital, while the dead were moved to various hospital mortuaries.
At this point, it is imperative to call on all developers, construction companies and other individuals in the FCT indeed other parts of the country to always ensure that the best standard as provided by regulatory agencies are adhered to, to avoid such unfortunate incidents as witnessed in recent time.