Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

DEMOLITIONS IN OSUN STATE: For Adequate Compensation for the Victims and

DEMOLITIONS IN OSUN STATE: For Adequate Compensation for the Victims and

Democratic Planning of Development Projects

(By Alfred Adegoke, Protem Chairperson, Osun State SPN)

Osogbo, the Osun State Capital has become another huge demolition site, no thanks to the Aregbesola-led/APC government’s so-called road expansion and town beautification. This demolition has led to displacement of hundreds of poor people, who are trying to make both ends meet. However, despite all the mantra of “massive” road construction, only a tiny fraction of roads, not only in Osogbo, but across the state are being constructed or rehabilitated, while several roads, mostly local, that are plied by most poor people are left unattended to. In fact, many of these road constructions, especially at the local are being abandoned, or unduly elongated.

Aside this is the lack of priority by government, which concentrates on prestige road projects, especially in the state capital, at highly inflated rates, while roads (and other social services like education, health, potable water, etc.) that have direct bearing on the economies and living conditions of the majority are being left unattended to. While huge amount (running to several billions) are given to private contractors, who are cronies of politicians in power, poor people whose means of livelihood are being destroyed with these demolitions are hardly compensated. Save for some handful few, who are close to the government, most property owners have not been compensated.

The demolition started with the pulling down of poor people’s shops along old Garage/Railway area now renamed Freedom Square, in a purported claim to make the roads and railway lines accessible. While those people displaced were not given any reasonable resettlement, the roads, upon which the shops were demolished, are still marred with heavy traffic, as a result of lack of proper planning.

After the regime got through the Old Garage demolition through the co-operation of some so-called leaders of opposition, it went on rampage with unwarranted demolitions of any shop or structure where the poor traders and artisans are trying to make a living around the city claiming it want to expand and beautify roads. This is only a ploy to attack the living conditions of the poor and send them parking from the areas where the rich moves about thereby displacing the entire livelihood of several thousands. Indeed, the government was only prevented from demolishing one of the main public secondary schools in the state, Fakunle Comprehensive High School, by spontaneous students’ protest. Currently, all buildings close to the school have been demolished, thus laying the plan for the demolition of a school which thousands of students attend.

While Ogbeni Aregbe parades some market women at rallies to sing nostalgia songs of motherhood, it is just a smokescreen for demolition of the existing market structures and replacing them with high-prized government shops often located far off from the popular areas all in a bid to recoup resources through rent and rates from the poor market women and men, traders and artisans.

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) calls for immediate and full compensation, and resettlement of all those displaced and whose properties/livelihood were affected. We call on people whose properties and livelihood were and are being affected to form community committee, which will organize mass actions including protests, rallies and sit-ins to compel government to end the mindless demolition without compensation, resettlement or alternative. We in the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemn and reject attacks on the living conditions of the poor and working people, who are currently struggling to survive the terrible economic conditions in the country.

While we will support any genuine effort at development, we reject the anti-poor and exploitative constructions being carried out by the Aregbesola/APC government in Osun State. We reject so-called construction, dictated by the greed of politicians and their crony contractors. We believe that genuine development will involve democratic and collective planning by people from workplaces and communities. Government cannot be claiming to be developing the society by destroying the livelihood of people who are supposed to be beneficiaries of such projects. We stand for massive development of the society through democratic planning of the people that will be directed at improving the lives of the people, both in the immediate and long term. We stand for the refurbishment of the Public Works Ministry to undertake government projects as against the current fraudulent contract system that diverts public resources to private pockets. These genuine programmes require a democratic socialist government committed to the interests of the majority and not profit-making interests of few millionaires and billionaires.