Popular Nigerian journalist and former presidential candidate, Dele Momodu, has said Femi Osibona, owner of Fourscore Homes and developer of the 21-storey building that collapsed in Lagos, did not cut corners.
TheCable had reported the collapse of the edifice that killed over 30 people, including Osibona.
In an opinion article titled, ‘The Unsolvable Jigsaw of the Ikoyi Tragedy’, Momodu said Osibona was an ambitious man and not the “greedy avaricious person that his traducers now suggest he is”.
“I had known Femi for over 20 years in London as an extremely gifted marketer. Femi’s tongue was honey-coated, and it was impossible not to like him,” Momodu said.
“We lost touch after I ended exile and returned to Africa, but he soon traced me to Ghana, and he came visiting. He was so happy to reunite with me. He told me how God had blessed him mightily and had made him veer into real estate in London. Femi was a genius who made stupendous gains from regenerating ghetto neighbourhoods in East London. He regaled me with tales of his exploits in the property business.
“He promised to build the classiest residential apartments in Africa. He said he was out to prove there was nothing the multinational construction companies were doing that his company can’t do. I have never seen such a level of audacity, determination and tenacity. Fourscore was a visionary and a missionary when it came to seeking to excel and do as well as his international counterparts at home and abroad. He had competed in their space, in their countries before, with moderate successes and did not see any reason why he could not replicate the same and attain loftier heights in his home country.
“If he made any mistakes, it was probably that he overstretched himself, but he was such an ambitious man, full of faith. And certainly not the greedy avaricious person that his traducers now suggest he is. In our country, mistakes are never excused, forgiven or forgotten. When you fail, you’re a villain and outcast. When you succeed, you’re a hero, genius and superstar.
“Out of the failing of Femi Fourscore would arise a Nigerian Neil Armstrong who will make building on the sea seem like strolling to the next street. That I believe is Femi Fourscore’s legacy, challenging us to believe that what may seem impossible is indeed possible by dint of hard work and if at first, you do not succeed, keep trying, because your time will come.
“I will never give excuses for Femi. He tried but he couldn’t unfortunately deliver on the tall and tough target he set for himself. I am pretty sure that it was not because he was cutting corners or taking risks. The block that fell was the one he intended to live in. No man would be prepared to be a kamikaze pilot in such a situation.
Momodu said the inquest and investigation ordered into the incident should be done diligently and not hurriedly.
“It must be painstaking and thorough. Such investigations cannot last thirty days as being directed by the government; I foresee that any credible inquiry must take months of arduous diligent work. Various possibilities including negligence, sabotage and even natural or human causes such as the over-dredging occurring in that vicinity must be considered. Dead men tell no tales. They cannot defend themselves, but records and logic abound,” he said.
“Those making claims and allegations which are easily rumpled will soon be exposed. I’d known that In February 2020 the third block was at the beginning of the foundation stage and the other two blocks were merely a few storeys gone. It is interesting that nobody who had any misgivings reported such to the Regulators. I say no more, other than that it is always convenient to cast aspersions when it seems there is no potential for the reply.
“What I know is Fourscore was a self-made man who depended on no godfather. Despite being a cousin of the vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, he was too proud and self-reliant to approach the vice-president or anybody else for favours of that kind. He never sought for or got any government contracts. He relied on his own ability, marketing skills and funds.
“It has been most painful reading how some people reduced Femi’s epic struggles and vision to fronting for the vice-president. For me, this is one of the tragedies of this unfortunate saga. The worst of them would be the number of innocent casualties buried in the debris with Femi.”