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The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi has criticized the recent demolitions at the Alaba International Market by the Lagos State Government.
While Obi acknowledged that some of the demolitions might have a reasonable justification, he expressed concerns over the impact on the ordinary people, whom he believes might have been ill-informed or misguided.
According to Obi, the main responsibility of any government is to care for and protect its citizens.
He voiced his concerns on Tuesday through a statement issued via his verified Twitter account.
The former governor of Anambra State asserted that “necessary corrective measures to planning or zoning violations by governments, need not be punitive or unduly insensitive.”
Recall that the Lagos Government commenced the demolition of what it termed as distressed buildings in the Alaba International Market, located in the Ojo Local Government Area, on June 16.
The exercise was carried out by the enforcement team of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Task Force.
Amidst ensuing controversies, the government maintained that the demolitions were preventative measures against potential disasters.
Despite the government’s explanation, Obi insisted that Nigerian citizens should not be subjected to unexpected hardships due to these governmental actions.
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.”