Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Oyo State: Buildings Demolished Without Provision of Alternative or Compensation

Oyo State: Buildings Demolished Without Provision of Alternative or Compensation

By Abbey Trotsky

In the last 6 months, the Oyo State government has demolished thousands of buildings used for different purposes like churches, houses, mosques and shops mainly in areas like Dugbe, Eleyele, Sango, Challenge, Samonda, and Iwo-road among others all in Ibadan. This exercise has rendered thousands of working but suffering people in the state homeless or devoid of means of livelihood.

It is true that many buildings for residential and business purposes built on the waterways do not only endanger life but are also barbaric. However, it is the utter failure of the successive capitalist governments, both in the state and at the federal level, to provide decent housing, gainful employment, good education that has forced thousands of poor working people to sell on the road or build houses on the waterways.

The demolition of market stalls, shops, houses and religious buildings without prior provision of alternatives or adequate compensations by Abiola Ajimobi-led administration under the pretence of road construction and beautification project shows that the so-called urban renewal policy of ACN-led does not have poor masses as the centre piece of its developmental plan.

No doubt, the beautification project has so far had a quality facelift in Ibadan particularly in areas like Iwo-road, Challenge, Ring-road, Gate, etc. But this has come at expense ordinary people of the state, many of whose stores and homes were demolished without provision alternative or compensation by the state government. Though, the rich were also affected! But while rich can easily cushion the effect, to the poor it is extremely difficult if not totally impossible.

While beautification is good, it should have been at lowest rung in the scale of preference, especially in the face of pressing and enormous developmental challenges confronting the state in the areas of education, health and infrastructure.

The concentration of effort on ephemeral and cosmetic challenges like beautification cannot and will never offer fundamental changes which quality public education, job creation, rapid industrialization, health facilities and provision of other basic infrastructure can produce.

Also, while road construction should be ordinarily welcome the mode and method of the implementation by the state government is simply objectionable and anti-poor, and therefore cannot be applauded. Besides, as Public Private Partnership (PPP) remains the driving philosophy of these road projects, whatever success and development recorded in this regard will only be short-lived. For example, the bridges at Bodija; Mokola; Apete; Oluyole; Odo-Ona e.t.c collapsed in less than two years after their construction under the same PPP policy by the PDP administration of former Governor Christopher Alao-Akala.

As against, the PPP method of road construction whereby contracts were awarded to thieving politicians masquerading as contractors or profit-hunting contractors whose main interest is to loot the state`s treasury, we of DSM argues direct labour method through which ministry of work will be empowered to be in complete charge of rehabilitation and construction of roads, bridges and houses. Various examples of roads, bridges and houses constructed through direct labour method in this country up till 1980s show that any project carried out under this method will not only be cheaper, without sacrificing quality, but also help to create thousands of gainful jobs among mass of growing unemployed youths in the state.

Various acts of corruption and mismanagement that characterize various government ministries (ministry of work inclusive) have been seized by the apostles of PPP as why government ministries cannot directly implement project. To us in the DSM every government ministry is capable of efficient and sufficient delivery of various social services and utilities needed by the people provided the decision making bodies and processes are placed under the democratic control of the elected representatives of workers and communities (end users/beneficiaries of the projects) who are subject to recall.

But calling on pro-capitalist governments like that of ACN who are in power to enrich a few through contact system and direct looting at the expense of the poor masses to put projects and ministries under democratic control of the working people is like asking for the moon. This is only possible under a government of workers, poor and peasants. This is one of the reasons the working people need their own party built on socialist program to contest and win political power in order to use the resources of the society for the benefit of all. We therefore call on workers, youths, traders, peasants, artisans in the state to join with the DSM in creating the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) in order to build a formidable mass working peoples’ party.