KOWA party has noticed, with utmost dismay, the appalling manner in which the Lagos state government, under APC, seems to be waging a systematic war against the poor. This government has, unofficially but in principle, criminalise poverty. The best infrastructures are within the highbrow areas of the rich. The best schools and hospitals are out of reach for the poor. Why? Is it a crime to be poor?
Can we recall how many times they have evicted the poor from their area of residence and given it to the rich and wealthy. And each time they do so they make up excuses of forestalling environmental hazards.
This time it is Otodo Gbame, a community they went regularly campaign in. During their 2015 campaign to the people of Otodo-Gbame did they promise to demolish their homes? Did they promise to grab the geographical space they occupy and banish them from it? No, they promised to improve their lives and standard of living.
We know how exhaustive it is being a common man. A large percentage of our citizens can’t successfully fight this sort of gross injustice. Being fully aware of this the Lagos state government has repeatedly and successfully discharged whole communities of people in different places before selling the lands to the rich at very exorbitant prices without putting any effort into properly relocating and compensating the displaced communities.
The state government claims its actions in Otodo-Gbame are justified for some reasons. Firstly it claims that the community poses an environmental hazard to the aquatic ecosystem. Secondly it claims that criminals and vagabonds masquerading as militants use the community as a cover for their nefarious activities. These two reasons are very important and should not, in righteous indignation at the suffering of the people of the community, be dismissed without due consideration. The government also claims that these people are illegal occupiers of the land and therefore have no right to claim ownership of said portion of Lagos state.
While we acknowledge that the precious and delicate ecosystem of our dear waterfront should be protected. Our water bodies are our pride in Lagos and they must be taken care of. However shooting at and killing Nigerians to protect the environment is definitely doing the wrong thing to achieve the right aim. The people of Otodo-Gbame have been living at the waterfront for decades. The ecosystem can and should be their pride. Why can’t the government work with them to protect and nurture THEIR OWN environment? Why can’t the government partner with the local community to ensure that the delicate balance of aquatic flora and fauna is maintained to the benefit of all?
The government’s claim justification of the destruction of the community on the basis of criminal activities going on in there is regrettable at best. Would you destroy my house simply because my neighbour is an armed robber? Surely not! It is only if the government can prove that every single citizen resident in Otodo-Gbame is a criminal then that justification is not tenable in any way. If there is an increase in criminal activities in a community, it is the government’s responsibility to beef up security in the community to protect its law abiding citizens who might be residing or doing business in such a community.
On the claim that the residents of Otodo-Gbame are illegally occupying the land we wish to ask some question. At independence sovereignty over the land was transferred from the colonial masters to the people to be kept in trust by the government for the people. Therefore, was the government waiting for the population to reach its tens of thousands before taking action? Did the government decide it was better to wait for decades, during which Nigerians built a thriving community, before deciding enough was enough? What was the ministry of Urban and Regional Planning doing all this while?
Dear Lagos state government, if you still, for reasons best known to you, believe that the citizens resident in Otodo-Gbame have to relocate from their homes, what alternatives have you provided for them?
KOWA party commends the efforts of kindhearted Nigerians working to alleviate the current untold hardships being faced by the people of Otodo-Gbame. We hereby enjoin all our members in the state to support genuine and well intentioned efforts to bring a little comfort to our fellow Lagosians. The party will also make a formal presentation of our widows mite to our fellow Lagosians formerly resident in Otodo-Gbame because we believe that TOGETHER WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
PRO, KOWA PARTY, LAGOS.
SOURCE: The Nigerian Voice (local news)