- Inaugurates building collapse panel of inquiry
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Lagos State Government yesterday denied banning the use of hijab in public schools, stating that the issue was still being looked into with a view to taking a broad-based stand on it.
The government’s clarification also came on the heels of the inauguration of a six-man panel of inquiry to look into the immediate and remote causes of the incidents of collapse buildings in the state, which had remained a recurring issue over the years.
Reacting to a media report (not THISDAY), which allegedly credited the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, as writing off the possibility of allowing hijab in public schools, the state government stated that the report was incorrect, sensational and out of context.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, said the government was still making wide consultations on the issue and would only come up with a position after exhausting all the avenues that will allow for a peaceful resolution of the matter.
Ibirogba advised the people of the state, particularly Muslim faithful, not to allow people with diabolic intentions to trivialise the issue of sustaining the peaceful co-existence among diverse groups in the state.
The commissioner explained that contrary to the report, government was still meeting with the stakeholders on the issue as explained by Oladunjoye and had, therefore, not banned or disallowed hijab in public schools.
According to him, what Oladunjoye explained at the briefing was that the government had held meetings with some key stakeholders and would still consult widely before taking a position, saying: “It will, therefore, be premature and pre-emptive to say that government has rejected the use of hijab in public schools in Lagos.”
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, while speaking at the inauguration of the panel of inquiry at the State House, Ikeja, said government would hold public officials responsible for violations of the processes of securing building permits in the districts and regions, which fall under their area of responsibility.
Fashola pointed out that the state government expected the panel to submit its report within three months from the first date of sitting, though gave the panel a window of opportunity to extend the timeline provided that it could not meet up with the specified time frame.
He also canvassed community action, which he said, was critical to averting the disturbing spate of building collapse in the state, urging residents to report any building detected to be unsafe and structurally questionable in the state.
He explained that public officials were going round the state to monitor buildings that “are reported and constitute danger to our society. It is time for community action. Complaints should be sent to the commissioner and even me.”
He pledged “to hold officials in public service responsible for violations that occur in the district and region where they are and sanctions will be unremitting and relenting. We will punish public officials who compromise processes for securing building permits.
“In the same vein, I want to appeal to the citizens that there are processes for building permits and there are minimum standards of engineering design. Soil test and all of those things must be complied with. Sometimes, people complain that it takes time to get building permit. Of course, it take time because we must check.”
Before inaugurating the panel, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeola Ipaye, had named members of the panel to include Mrs. Abimbola Ajayi, who is the chairperson; Mr. Joseph Adewale, Mrs. Roli Craig, Mr. Segun Adedeji, Mr. Moses Ogunleye and Mr. Biodun Rufai.
According to him, “we are to ensure that buildings are constructed in Lagos State only in accordance with our approved plans and to monitor the quality of such buildings in order to avoid the incidents that we are talking about. Further, this is an incident that leads to loss of life and destruction of properties on a disturbing scale.”