Yesterday, a church in Akwa Ibom collapsed leaving an unascertained number of people dead in the wake of the disaster. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that over 60 were removed from the rubble putting the popular figure for the casualty recorded around 50.
The church, Reigners Bible Church located along Uyo Village Road, was celebrating the consecration of its pastor, Akan Weeks, as a Bishop when the tragedy occurred. The Governor of Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, seated in the front row at the church when the incident occurred has been congratulated by the President for escaping unhurt.
But a saved governor regardless, the collapse of church building appears to be something to seriously consider in Nigeria considering the similar occurrence at The Synagogue in 2014. In this instance, witnesses say the Reigners Church collapsed from the middle of its roof.
While there are no conclusive reports yet to show the specifics of the cause of the Reigners Church collapse, two things jump out of every eyewitness account:
“The Church was under construction”
“The Church was filled to capacity”
No one has said anything about any military aircraft hovering above the building nor offered any other explanation as to the cause of the collapse. Only that it collapsed. From the middle of its roof.
If the trend in Nigeria is anything to go by – and we believe it is – then if not properly handled this time, collapsing churches will become a staple event in Nigeria. The inconclusive nature of the Synagogue incident if allowed to influence the way that this one is treated will bring in a new era of collapsing buildings.
Earlier this year already, a house linked to Lekki Gardens had been sealed by the Lagos State government for lack of compliance with necessary building requirements ha been illegally reopened and construction resumed. Not long after, on March 8th, the building collapsed leaving over 30 victims in the wake of the incident.
These matters fade from public consciousness. And that is a problem.
The collapse of The Reigners Church in Uyo yesterday must not only serve as another tragic incident to be sad about and mourned with official condolence messages or visits, it has to serve as a reminder to us of the other two unresolved cases and a catalyst for finding a lasting solution to the menace of substandard construction across Nigeria.
Not enough is being done to check building collapses in Nigeria and this latest tragedy must be taken as a call to immediately fix the situation.
Creative mind. Enthusiast. Learner. Multipotentialite. And here, an assistant editor.