…By Babatunde Lucas for TDPel Media.
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has voiced his criticism of the recent demolitions carried out by the Lagos State Government at the Alaba International Market.
While acknowledging that some demolitions may have valid justifications, Obi expressed his concerns regarding the impact on ordinary citizens who might have been unaware or misguided.
Government’s Responsibility: Obi’s Perspective
In a statement issued via his verified Twitter account on Tuesday, Peter Obi emphasized that the primary responsibility of any government is to care for and protect its citizens.
He questioned the need for punitive or insensitive actions when dealing with planning or zoning violations.
Background on the Demolitions
The Lagos State Government, through the enforcement team of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Task Force, commenced the demolition of distressed buildings in the Alaba International Market, located in the Ojo Local Government Area, on June 16.
The government justified these actions as preventive measures against potential disasters.
Obi’s Stance: Opposition to Unexpected Hardships
Despite the government’s explanation, Peter Obi maintained that Nigerian citizens should not bear the burden of unexpected hardships resulting from these demolitions.
He expressed his belief that in a country grappling with a housing deficit and unmet housing needs, some individuals resort to self-help by constructing structures for homes, businesses, SME offices, and stores.
He acknowledged that while some of these structures may have been unauthorized, they were often built with the tacit collusion or approval of local authorities.
Appeal for Compassion and Humane Correction
Obi respectfully appealed to various governmental authorities, urging them to enforce compliance with regulatory regimes while considering human feelings and exercising necessary compassion.
Given the challenging circumstances faced by Nigerian citizens, including income stagnation, inflation, unemployment, and high living costs, Obi emphasized the need to avoid adding additional stress and hardship.
He called on concerned governments to consider compensating those who have lost properties and livelihoods in the demolitions as a means to alleviate their suffering, citing the principle of eminent domain applicable to properties and assets acquired or demolished in the public interest.
Government’s Primary Duty: Caring for and Protecting Citizens
Peter Obi concluded his statement by reiterating that the primary duty of any government is to care for and protect its citizens.
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