From the Archives: UYO CHURCH COLLAPSE: WILL GOVERNOR UDOM PASS THIS LITMUS TEST?




On 12 September 2014, a guest house inside Synagogue church located in Ikotun collapsed completely killing over one hundred people. On 08 March 2016, a five-storey building belonging to Lekki Gardens also collapsed. At least thirty people died. On 10 December 2016, Reigners Bible Church International in Uyo collapsed during the ordination of the pastor as a Bishop. The Sun newspaper of 11 December 2016 put the casualty figure at one hundred. All the three structures were under construction which means construction was poorly done. This also means that someone or group of persons were not doing their job well or are grossly incompetent.

The synagogue incident happened two years ago, it was a disaster of international dimension because other nationalities were involved with South Africa topping the casualty figures. Till date, no one has been successfully prosecuted. Instead, what we have is a coroner’s report that recommended prosecution and the church rejecting the report. Just like that, case closed. The lives lost regardless.
The MD of Lekki gardens was not as lucky as the helmsman of the synagogue church; he was arrested and detained briefly before he was released. He lacks anointing hence the reason why he was ‘touched’ in the first place. We were told after his release that the prosecution of the contractor and other accomplices would begin soon. Interestingly, the ‘soon’ came in form of the usual political sound bites four days after the Uyo incident. That I must say is a proactive way to shield the Lagos State government of expected backlash because the Uyo incident leaves room for scrutiny of other similar events in the past especially more recent ones.


I was impressed when barely after a week after the incident the state government wielded the big stick against four Lagos State Building Control Agency officials. I thought it was a good move because it will serve as a deterrent to other civil servants who act unprofessionally. It now appears that that the momentum has lost steam. The sacked officials may be the collaborators but shall we make scapegoats out of them alone and leave the real perpetrators?
The Lagos state government said it has concluded plans after investigation to commence the prosecution of the culpable persons. Please note that this is not the announcement of the start of the trial nine months after the incident but an announcement of the intention to prosecute. This kind of quick and efficient investigation just takes my breath away. As usual, the dilly dally has begun, the precious lives lost regardless.

Now to the main reason for this piece, the Reigners Bible church collapse in Uyo. This most recent national tragedy is similar to the previous events I highlighted but also very unique. The state Governor was present and reports have it that he narrowly escaped. While it is not out of place to also be thankful to God for sparing his life while mourning those that died, I think it is of greater importance that Governor Udom takes the lesson and the implications to heart and act accordingly.
I will use the story of Esther, Mordecai and the Jews because I know he will be able to identify with that story. Queen Esther was faced with the temptation of turning a blind eye and giving excuses for not saving the Jews from ethnic cleansing, her reasons where legit because it was not the time for her to see the King and if she broke the protocol, she would be killed. This is the same way that pressure will mount on the Governor to let the case die a natural death as Nigerians are forgetful and forgiving people. Some will even say to him just like the pastor of the church said in an interview after the incident that we can’t question God. True, but God was not the contractor neither was HE the one that disobeyed the ‘stop work’ order served by the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA) in 2014 as reported.

The governor should take a cue from Mordecai who told Esther to consider the fact that she may have become queen for the sole purpose of saving the Jews so no excuse or inaction, no matter how tenable would suffice. The Uyo building collapse presents Governor Udom the privilege to do good, save lives and forestall avoidable deaths in the future, get justice for the dead and change for good the way projects are managed in his state. If he allows this incident to go without commensurate punitive measures to anyone found culpable, we may yet see another event of similar nature in his state just like the Synagogue and Lekki gardens incidents in Lagos. This is not a time to quote Nahum 1:9 out of context which is about afflictions not rising again the second time as I have seen in several posts on social media by gullible people using it as a shield to avoid tackling the root cause and making those in charge of the construction accountable for their actions or inactions that led to the collapse.

If Governor Udom does not want the summary of this sad event to be ‘after a while, the incident was forgotten, no one was prosecuted and just like that, case closed. Lives lost regardless’ he should always remember the lives lost and say to himself ‘it could have been me’. This should spur him to action.

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