|You are in: Talking Point: African Debates|
Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 15:26 GMT
Lagos explosion: Is anyone to blame?
Last Sunday hundreds of people, many of them women and children were killed in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos after explosions at an army munitions dump.
President Obasanjo has demanded an explanation from the military. But who, if anyone is to blame?
The dump, when it was built, was outside the city; Lagos has grown over the years to encompass the dump.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The incident in part is an antecedent of the legacies of decadent military rule in Nigeria these past years. The present administration though democratic, is more or less an extension of that rule. Hence I say, no one is to blame because everyone is to blame. Or is it the other way round?
Personally, I believe that though the military ought to be largely held responsible for the blast the incident remains an eye opener to all Nigerians as regards our total apathy towards modern town planning and uncoordinated response towards disasters of this magnitude. We should emulate the example of the Americans and how they responded to September 11.
I think that there is someone to blame. We may not know whom, but Nigeria wants its justice back. Nobody, and I mean nobody expected this kind of chaos to happen in my mother's land of Nigeria. It's not an accident. We need to find out who did this to Lagos. We want our justice.
Blame the government. Spending $12 million on ammunition when people are hungry and suffering. To add insult to injury putting them in a residential area. The Government should take full blame
I don't necessarily think that anyone is to blame but I do feel that it is the responsibility of the military to ensure that such accidents are not be included in our history. It is quite disheartening to hear and see pictures of dead bodies and damage it's done. An accident of this nature should never have occured. And please tell me, while they're investigating what's happening to these people, where will they sleep, what will they do now? This event is as bad as September 11. Those people at least had help and some hope. Where will ours come from?
I think the Nigerian Army has taken enough rap from Nigerians. It is interseting to note that those who criticise the army, althogh being Nigerians, are from outside Nigeria. This makes them mere arm-chair critics. The explosion was caused by a fire at a nearby market which got out of control. And yet when the government wants to demolish illegal structures, these same people start crying foul. Let's just pray for the victims and the nation. LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA!
Once more this has gone to show how short sighted the gonernment of the country is. In the first place why on earth would someone think that an army barracks of such importance should be located in the highly bustling area of Lagos, amidst residents and offices. It is has now been proved beyond all doubt that locating such barracks in cvilian areas is risky especially in the cases of catastrophic events like that of the Jan 27th.
The Barrack should be relocated without any delay to save the people of Ikeja further tragedy in the future.
Ken Nwaigbo, Dodge City, USA.
This kind of explosions can not happen in Nigeria without someone masterminding it. It is one of the ways of making sure Lagos is not a secure place. This may be the work of Osama bin Laden's followers in the Nigerian Military.
Fire outbreaks happen all over the world in various places. Why did it take over 36hours to check the spread?
The government in Nigeria is grossly negligent and places little value on the life of most of population. The lack of concern is evident in the mismanagement of all the infrastructure. Nothing works in Nigeria. As long as the federal government continues to micromanage or rather micro-mismanage the entire country tragedies will occur.
How ridiculous. Imagine that London or New York was blown up by a reckless military munitions explosions and then the official response that gets mouthed is "it could have happened anywhere", or "the barrack has been there before houses later swamped it". If the military spokespersons have no words of comfort or a decent sense of unpretended remorse, they are better off mute. Anyone who feels the blame does not fall squarely on the military should tell me why we had military and strategic experts on the defence payroll in the first instance. I feel ashamed that Nigeria is exposing her precarious security conditions to the outside world. I suppose if the Ikeja munition was indeed outgrown by neighboring houses, should it not have been moved, or are you telling me residences should be demolished for munition barracks?
Meanwhile, may I conjecture that several other barracks in dense locations could equally pass off as death zones and those living around such geographies have better count the costs - in Nigeria, terrible history often repeat its self due to the "couldn't care less" syndrome of public officials.
How can a dump, which had such terrifying arsenal, be left in a densely populated area of the city? This is unacceptable. The lives and feelings of the people have to be considered for a change, you can imagine President Obasanjo, a man elected by the people telling angry mourners to shut up and telling them he does not have to be with them! That shows how much regard he has for his people.
This is a very tragic situation that happened in Nigeria. Blaming people is not going to solve the problem or bring back lost ones. I suggest that the government takes measures to compensate families with lost ones and try within its best capabilities to
to ensure that official incompetence does not cause any one their lives. Not only that, I also think that other African countries should help by providing some financial contributions which is much needed and stop relying on the western nations for every thing. Africa is a STRONG nation and we shall overcame.
The whole tragedy boils down to a confirmation of our blatant disregard for urban and regional planning, on the one hand, and for a good maintenance culture on the other hand. In countries where city planning and maintenance culture are given adequate budgetary allocations, and professional planners are allowed to do their job without unnecessary interference, such a tragedy would have been foreseen and prevented many years ago. Unfortunately, most Nigerian cities are nothing short of slums and ghettos where nothing works. Yet, the country is blessed with very brilliant professionals by any standard.
Eyitemi Taire, UK
For an outsider to fully understand the power play in Nigeria is difficult. One will be in power at the same time appeasing other power players to the extent that getting any official to do anything is always negotiated. This has come to the extent that something can be damn too wrong and at the same time respected and allowed. The fear of the unknown, the fear of upsetting certain status quo's, has stolen the show from genuine leadership. Regrettably, that's it for now.
At least for now, nobody is to blame on Lagos' tragedy since till now we have not been told the root cause of the fire. In my tradition we have a saying which goes "The Knowing does not lead"
The disaster in Lagos could be an
accident which can happen
anywhere any time.
However, the Nigerian Government has to
find a way to get out of the issue of
finger pointing and compensate everyone that has suffered losses.
In addition, the Government needs to
come up with concrete plans to
relocate military facilities away from
populated areas of the cities.
Finding someone to blame for this tragedy may be futile, but necessary so as to give the bereaved some sense of closure. The determination of the circumstances behind the explosions is also important to prevent its reoccurrence.
29 Jan 02 | Africa
28 Jan 02 | Africa
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Top African Debates stories now:
Links to more African Debates stories are at the foot of the page.
|E-mail this story to a friend|
Links to more African Debates stories
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>> | To BBC World Service>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy