Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, has reacted to the recent demolition of some buildings at the Alaba International Market by the Lagos State Government. Obi said although some of the demolitions might be excusable, they had left many victims, mostly ordinary people who he believed were either innocently ill-informed or misguided.
He said the primary duty of any government is to care for and protect its citizens. In a statement issued via his verified Twitter handle on Tuesday, the former Anambra State governor advised that “necessary corrective measures to planning or zoning violations by governments, need not be punitive or unduly insensitive.”
Recall that the Lagos Government had on June 16 begun the removal of what it described as distressed buildings in the Alaba International Market located in the Ojo Local Government Area of the state.
Daily Post reports that the enforcement team of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA and the Lagos State Task Force embarked on the joint exercise. Following the controversy that trailed the exercise, the government insisted that the exercise was a measure to prevent disaster. However, Obi maintained that Nigerian citizens should not be subjected to the additional stress of unexpected hardship.
The statement read: “Recently, there have been reports of widespread government demolition of so-called ‘illegal’ structures erected by some innocent Nigerian citizens in error. We face a paradox: with a 70 million housing deficit and vast unmet housing needs nationwide, some resort to self-help by building structures that serve as homes, businesses, SMEs offices and stores. Invariably, some of these structures were either not approved or were built with the tacit collusion or approval of the local authorities.
“While some of these ongoing demolitions may be excusable, they have nonetheless, left many victims, mostly ordinary people who erred innocently or were ill-informed or misguided. Necessary corrective measures to planning or zoning violations by governments need not be punitive or unduly insensitive.
“There should always be room for compassion and humane correction in taking any remedial action. I respectfully appeal to various governmental authorities to marry the need to enforce compliance with extant regulatory regimes, with consideration for human feelings and necessary compassion.
“In Nigeria, we live in a time of extreme difficulties for citizens because of stagnated income, spiralling inflation, huge unemployment escalating socio-economic costs and high costs of living.
“Nigerian citizens should, therefore, not be subjected to the additional stress of unexpected hardship. Moreover, the various concerned governments should consider paying compensation to those who have lost properties and livelihoods in these unfortunate demolitions to ameliorate their suffering. Such compensation should fall under the rubric of eminent domain that is applicable for properties and assets acquired or demolished in the public interest.
“It cannot ever be overemphasized that the primary duty of any government is the responsibility to care for and protect her citizens.” (text excluding headline from Daily Post)